secondhand

Salvation Army Vs. Goodwill

When we clean out our closets, move, are making way for new things, or are deciding which items in our lives “spark joy,” there is bound to become a donation bag.

It may be the giveaway pile or donate box, whatever you call it, it has to go somewhere.

The old books you’ve already read can be handed off to a friend looking for a new summer read, sold on Craigslist, or posted on the many Buy Nothing Project groups for someone else to enjoy.

More often than not though, with our busy lives, it becomes just too much work to try and find a new home for your items and coordinate a time to have it picked up. So the items get dropped off at a donation center because you want the stuff out of your house NOW.

Recently, I was asked which was a better place to donate your pre-loved items, Goodwill or Salvation Army? I didn’t have a clear answer, so obviously this became a good blog topic.

Salvation Army

According to their mission statement, “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

They work to meet all sorts of human needs from helping disaster survivors and stopping domestic abuse, to combating addiction and assisting the unemployed. Learn more about what they do here.

Donating clothing and goods to The Salvation Army helps fund addiction rehabilitation programs. You can donate at their Family Stores and drop-off locations or schedule a free pickup. We had The Salvation Army come to pick up our couch once. It was nice that they could take care of that.

According to CNN, the Salvation Army spends 82% of donations on aid and you can check out Salvation Army’s sustainable development goals here.

Goodwill Industries International

Goodwill is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization whose mission is “to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.” They seek to help all job seekers and in 2017, Goodwill helped more than 288,000 people find employment.

Donating your items to Goodwill helps create job opportunities by funding job training and services and they also claim it keeps billions of pounds of textiles and clothing from meeting their end in the landfill. You can calculate the impact of your donation on their website which is pretty cool. For instance, if I donate 5 shirts, that provides 31 minutes of on-the-job training.

But is that what really happens? This Huffington Post article does a good job of explaining what happens to your clothes when you drop them off at Goodwill. In reality, after the good stuff has been picked out and the unusable has become rags, the rest gets shipped overseas. I was not able to find anything that directly explained what they did with stuff when it didn’t sell, but here is a blog about their sustainability initiative.

What’s the Verdict?

It is up to you! Both are keeping materials from the landfill and helping others in the process. I am sure there are parts of each that some may not agree with, but both are better options than tossing your clothes in the garbage. To avoid having to go through all your clothes and donating every few months, be conscious of your purchases and only buy what you actually need, buy secondhand, or attend a clothing swap.

What are your thoughts?

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FancyFlip Wedding Resale Event

The other week I stood in line for over half an hour with my mom and my future mother in law waiting to get in a hotel ballroom.

At 1:30 on the dot, we rushed in, scanned the room, and ran over to the nearest vendor.

Fancyflip

We were attending FancyFlip a traveling wedding resale event. Those who just got married can get a booth and resell their stuff, and those who are future brides and grooms can buy it!

There were some great booths with some awesome goods! From signs to tablecloths and fake flowers to candles, there were so my options!

The best part is that there are brides who were in the same position you are currently in. They provided advice and suggestions on how they used their items.

Another bonus were the fantastic prices! People just wanted to get rid of their stuff and most likely get it out of their basement. The sellers were motivated to sell!

We ended up leaving with the following:

  • Table numbers from vintage picture frames
  • A dessert bar sign
  • Kraft paper bags for hotel guests
  • A seating chart frame
  • 2 Easels

We made some awesome deals and I can’t wait to turn around next year and sell it again!

10 Most Overlooked Ways to Reduce Waste: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2!

If you missed Part 1, you can check that out here.

10 most overlooked ways to reduce waste.p2

Let’s get right into it.

#5 Vote with Your $$$

Every time you purchase something, you are contributing to its demand. This is simple economics.

Put your money towards products and companies that you believe in. If it is important to you that your items are produced using renewable energy, then support companies that do.

For instance, there is a fair trade shop just around the corner from our apartment and it is currently struggling, so after work today I popped in and used my dollars to buy wool dryer balls and Bee’s Wrap. My dollars did not just get me faster-drying clothes in the dryer but they made a statement that I support these kinds of shops and want them in my neighborhood.

Resources:

#6 Your Pantry and Fridge

Open your fridge.

Now open your pantry.

How much of the stuff in there is going to end up in the trash can/landfill? I am not just talking about food packaging and wrappers, but food waste too.

Keep this in mind when you are at the grocery store. I am not asking you to only shop in the bulk aisle of Whole Foods, but just start noticing.

Once you do it is hard to shake it.

 

CSA week 7

Joining a CSA helped us cut down on packaged produce, but sometimes we still received things in plastic. 

 

Resources for Cutting Back on Packaging:

#7 Wait it Out

When I find something that I want (not need), I bookmark it in my browser under a folder called “Things I Want to Buy.”

And then I leave it there for days, weeks, and months.

If I am still thinking about it long after I saved it, then I will consider it further. If not then it gets deleted, and to be honest, not many things have survived the “Things I Want to Buy” folder.

Basically, avoid impulse buys by having a waiting period for each item. You might find that you didn’t like it as much as you thought, or get home and realize you already have 5 black sweaters.

Resources:

#8 Put Some Effort into What You Already Have

Did something break? Then fix it.

Do your jeans have a hole in them? Sew them.

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The #8 overlooked way to create less waste is also known simply as taking care of your stuff! Wash and dry clothing according to the directions. Store equipment in the proper place. Use a coaster. Give your car regular maintenance. Fix the soles of your shoes when they have worn through.

Putting a little extra effort or elbow grease will make your stuff live a longer life.

Resources: 

#9 Buy Secondhand/Previously Loved

If you’ve followed this blog, you know that the majority of our furniture is secondhand. Everything pictured below has either come from Craigslist, a garage sale, or family/friends.

Not only is it way cheaper than buying anything new, but it keeps pieces out of the landfill. Beyond furniture, I do have some pieces of clothes that are secondhand, but the majority of my wardrobe is not. It is something I am working on.

Resources to get your secondhand shopping on:

#10 Don’t Give into Trends

The fashion world likes to tell us that we need new styles of clothing every few months. If it is not the 70’s bell sleeves, the chokers, or those “cold shoulder” shirts, it will be something else tomorrow. That way you can buy, buy, buy.

Don’t give into that crap. You don’t need any of it. I like to think that the clothes I purchase will be something I wear for a long time, so I stay away from trends and keep my closet pretty neutral.

Whatever the next ridiculous trend is, pass on it, and just wear your regular sweater that covers your shoulders with pride!

More Resources:

 

What else would you add to the list?

A Table Fit for Four

It has been a bit of process getting our kitchen table. At first, we were going to go secondhand, but as with shopping secondhand, what you are specifically looking for is not always available at the time you want it.

So, then we decided to just design our table instead. With my dad having the access and the know-how on woodworking we sent him a picture of what we were looking for and the custom dimensions we wanted for our small space.

And then we waited.

Months later (he’s a busy guy!) our table started to come together.

dining table

With every new picture update, we got even more excited!

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Before we knew it, K and my dad were finagling it up the stairs to our apartment.

And BAM!

We suddenly had a real kitchen table.

That more than two people could sit at.

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It is glorious and more beautiful than anything we would have ever bought in a store (and way better because I get to say my dad made it).

We are so cautious with it now, whereas with the old table we just threw whatever on it. Now everything must be gingerly placed on a placement or coaster.

At the time we received the table, we only had the 2 IU library chairs to sit on, so instantly inviting people over was not an option. Luckily, I had perused Craigslist the night before and inquired about a set of West Elm chairs that I have been pining over for ages. Each of those chairs retail for $249 A PIECE!

Thank goodness I acted quickly and followed up that I could pick them up the next day because I got all 5 chairs for $200 total!

chairs

Within two days we went from tiny garage sale table that fits two to the amazing custom table and bargain chairs that fit four (actually 5 but we cant fit that chair anywhere right now).

Come on over for dinner!

It is finally starting to feel like fall.

Finally.

It has been a bit too warm for a bit too long (climate change cough cough).

Now that there is a chill in the air, I can finally fully embrace it.

When the stores become inundated with “Happy Fall Ya’ll” pillows and pumpkin spice candles in August, it can be hard not to go overboard.

I have been trying to keep decorations to a minimum and keep them secondhand, handmade, or natural.

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Both of these pumpkins came from garage sales.

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Last year I knit this fall themed banner with leftover yarn.

fall banner

Halloween can also be celebrated without having to purchase a brand new costume each year. In college, I went as a Jedi solely from stuff I found at Goodwill.

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So go enjoy the season, but do it wisely!

 

Up North for the Grayslake Flea Market

I made a pretty arduous flea and vintage market schedule this spring. Although I have been slacking, for the most part, I  did visit Randolph Street Market last month and over the weekend took a drive North to the Grayslake Flea Market.

Grayslake flea1

It was a pretty cool, but nice, Saturday and I enjoyed walking through the outside vendors over the ones in the main hall.

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This sign caught my eye right away and I just loved it! Old things are awesome and we should enjoy them!

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For instance, check out this awesome wallpaper table. It would look so awesome in an entryway if I had one of them. By the time I made a second lap back through the outside vendors, this baby was snatched up. It was a steal at $125!

I did not end up getting much, but I did find a vendor who used to be a science teacher. She found the below 1970’s science posters in her classroom one year and loved the graphics so much that she kept them.

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Thank goodness she did because I absolutely loved them! The “Our Environment” one caught my eye first.

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After sifting through a pile of them, I purchased my three favorites. K loved all the posters when I brought them home and he was actually upset I did not buy them all!

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That will probably be the only time he will be mad I did not buy something from a flea market. I hope to frame them someday when I have more walls to hang stuff on. Right now we are kind of out of wall space!

No More IKEA

The last piece of IKEA furniture is officially gone!

After much Craigslist searching, I finally found something that satisfied our needs. We have a lot of books and they need a home. This bookcase/TV stand was the perfect answer and at the perfect price, $80!

Within 24 hours, I replied to an ad, got a response, and had picked up our new TV stand.

new tv stand

We finally have a spot to keep all our cookbooks in one location. Before they had been scattered about the apartment wherever they could fit.

new tv stand2

Once it was set up, I was so excited that I just put books in any which way.

After a while, I added a few tchotchkes that were around the house elsewhere.

tv stand1

I am pretty happy with it right now!

Please disregard the mess of cords underneath, we have not gotten to organizing those yet!

Sunday at Randolph Street Market

Yesterday was a glorious day here in Chicago. It was sunny with some fluffy clouds and not stifling hot.

All I wanted to do was spend time outside so after a morning bike ride on the Lakefront Trail, I hopped over to Randolph Street Market to check out the vintage goods.

RSM5

I am always on the hunt for something unique and vintage, so much so that I made up a schedule for vintage shopping. Just like my love for Craigslist, I am fascinated by the fact that you never know what you are going to find.

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I did not end up buying anything, which is totally fine. Making a purchase is not in any way mandatory. You have to make sure you are going to LOVE what you buy.

RSM8

Even though I did not come across anything that had to come home with me (or anything would actually fit in our place), I enjoyed getting to browse what was available.

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There was definitely plenty of reuse, upcycling, and vintage charm to go around.

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On the other hand, there was also some really good quality midcentury modern pieces available.

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If you visit Randolph Street Market, there are vendors inside as well as outside! When colder weather rolls around, you can still shop the market from October through December.

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I did absolutely love these outdoor chairs! Aren’t they so clean and neat? Unfortunately, I have no outdoor space, so nowhere for them to go. I am sure someone else will love them just as much as I did and will be able to take them home.

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How did you spend your gorgeous Sunday?

I Keep Flamingos on the Fire Escape

There’s nothing quite as kitschy or screams summer like a plastic lawn flamingo.

I personally think they are hilarious and have always wanted to have one in my future yard, but never really came across any and I didn’t go out of my way to find them.

That was until I found this flamingo pair at a garage sale.

flamingoes

And they are awesome! You can’t help but smile looking at them!

flamingoes2

According to the seller, they are cast-iron from the 1930’s and had recently been repainted. I did an e-bay search when I got home and could not find anything else like them online. They truly are one of a kind!

flamingoes3

Let’s keep in mind that I do not have a yard or any green space for that matter.

All we have is the fire escape.

So until then, the flamingos are going to hang out there with the mini grill and the compost bucket.

How to Be a Craigslist Boss: Part 2

The other day, I posted Part 1 of How to Be A Craigslist Boss.

Now it is time for Part 2: Selling on Craigslist!craigslist

Creating Your Post Is Important

Good Images

I personally think the key to a good Craigslist ad is all in the pictures. I will never even look at a post without an image!

Seriously just take some good pictures of the item you are trying to sell. It will take 5 seconds. Most likely the quality of the phone on your camera is amazing, so there is absolutely no excuse for bad photos.

craigslist4

Nooooooooo. No images and terrible headlines (see below).

Effective and Precise Headlines

No need for flashy headlines here, just be specific on what you are selling.

Say it is a couch and you are between two headline options.

Headline #1: “Great Deal! Comfiest Couch Ever!!!”

Headline #2: “Crate and Barrel Brown Leather Sectional- Good Condition”

The second option gives the buyer much more information than headline #1.

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I could not resist this headline though. Very clever!

Keywords

On the same note as headlines, you need to use specific keywords in order to get people to view your post. At the bottom of the post body, add tags to help people find it when searching.

craigslist6

Good amount of keywords and not keyword overload.

Be Specific

Include any details that you happen to know about the item. Some details you may want to include:

  • Manufacturer
  • Age and when you bought it
  • Condition (missing pieces, scratches, dents, etc.)
  • Smoke and pet free home (especially important for upholstered items)
  • Dimensions
  • Any links to the item if it is still currently being sold

Pricing

Shoot for a price that is not too low and not too high, but leave just enough room for buyers to negotiate down.

You can list that your price is firm or will accept OBO (or best offer).  The good thing about Craigslist is that you can always change your price later if you are not getting any bites.

Make sure to do some research and see what similar items are going for on Craigslist too.

Also, take into account the condition of your item. If it is broken or missing pieces, say so and price accordingly.

Being Safe

Safety is an important aspect when you are selling things to random strangers online. 100% of the time, I have never once had an issue, but still please be careful.

  • Do not post your actual address. Just use your zip code or a major intersection in the area.
  • If you can, schedule to meet in a public place such as a crowded, well-lit parking lot.
  • Have another person with you if you can (I have actually brought my grandmother before, but not like she could help beat off an attacker).
  • Do not accept PayPal, check, wire transfer or anything like that. Go for cash only.

 

What has been your experience selling or buying on Craigslist? Or any additional tips? Let me know!

More Resources: