secondhand

A Secondhand Nursery

One thing I did not want to do once we transformed our guest room into a nursery was buy a whole bunch of new furniture.

The transformation process was pretty slow going because we had to move a ton of stuff out of the guest room to make way for baby.

We utilized Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to sell a lot of the bigger items including the desk, some lamps, pillows, and other odds and ends. I also paid someone to recycle our mattress and box spring.

As things have left, we were able to start focusing on the items we needed and a lot of the main components of our nursery ended up being secondhand, coming from family members, strangers, flea markets, and online stores.

Here is how we ended up furnishing our nursery with pre-loved items:

The Crib

Our baby’s crib came from my cousin and it was previously another baby’s crib before that! Don’t worry. The issue with using a secondhand cribs is not knowing where the crib came from or if it’s super old with a drop down side. We know where it is from and no drop down side, so we are good to go!

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The Dresser/Changing Table

I scoured Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for a vintage midcentury modern lowboy dresser to use as a changing table. The goal was to find a piece of furniture that could be used as a regular old dresser down the road and not look like a standard changing table. I ended up finding this one on Facebook Marketplace and am so happy with it!

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The Rocking Chair

This rocking chair was actually my mom’s and she rocked me in it as a baby. Growing up, the rocking chair was in our computer room and I spent many hours talking on the phone sitting in it. Now I get to rock my own baby in this chair!

Additionally, the original cushion on this chair definitely did not go with the nursery theme, but luckily my mother-in-law was able to reupholster it!

The tallboy dresser behind the rocking chair is also secondhand, but we have had it for a number of years and it was bought on Craigslist. Luckily it matches pretty well!

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The Clothes Tree

This kiddie sized clothes tree has also been around the block! It was originally in my mom’s bedroom as a child and eventually was in mine. It has been painted a number of times including yellow, pink, and now grey! It was already grey before we added it to the nursery, so we didn’t have to paint it again!

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The Vintage Posters

As for decor, our theme is loosely “vintage science classroom,” and these vintage science posters were the inspiration. I found these at the Grayslake Flea Market and bought them from a retired high school science teacher who taught in the 70’s.

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The Vintage Map

The pull down geographical classroom map was the second piece we collected in the theme from the Elkhorn Flea Market. It sat in our closet for a few years just waiting for a baby to come along.

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The Vintage Children’s Books and Microscope

To round out the theme, I found some smaller pieces for the tallboy dresser.

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The vintage children science books are from the 50’s and 60’s and I found them on Etsy.

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Also from Etsy, I picked up a vintage microscope to use as a bookend.

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And there you have it! We do have another storage piece of furniture in the room with fabric bins (not pictured) and that came from Facebook Marketplace.

Otherwise, a majority of the rest of the items came from Target including both table lamps, the rug, side table, ottoman pouf and blackout curtains.

Not bad? I think we did a pretty good job of keeping it secondhand. What do you think?

 

How To: Not Buy Baby Stuff

We have not bought much for this baby so far.

I haven’t bought a cute outfit or a soft blanket. Really all we have bought is some stuff for the nursery and most of it was either given to us or purchased secondhand (that’s a post for later!).

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Our first baby purchase were some little booties from our alma mater to announce the pregnancy.

The moment we found out we were expecting, we knew that it would be a slippery slope of baby stuff coming from every which direction, be it grandparents, friends, or a box being delivered on our doorstep.

For me personally, not buying stuff for the baby was not all that hard. Given that we don’t know the gender, there wasn’t much I could get anyway unless I wanted my baby to dress exclusively in grey and white (gender-neutral clothes are so lame <insert eyeroll>).

For others though, the urge to shower me in stuff was a little stronger and I had to have a conversation with both future grandmothers not to run out to Homegoods and buy everything in sight.

Right now, pretty much everything in baby’s nursery has come from someone else, be they hand me downs from other little babies in our lives or pieces of furniture.

This baby is going to get stuff though, even with the uncertainty of my baby shower even happening. I did my best to be conscious of what was going on my registry. I focused on multi-purpose items such as our bassinet/pack-in-play combo and a high chair that grows with baby. and quality materials such as wood, cotton, and glass over plastic.  Using Babylist, I was also able to ask for non-material items, such as house cleaning, babysitting, and home-cooked meals. I could even ask for preloved clothes and books!

Any advice for keeping the overwhelming amount of baby stuff at bay? Please share!

 

 

The Paralysis of Getting Rid of Things Correctly

We are currently clearing out our guest room to make way for baby and it has brought up a phenomenon that I don’t think I am the only one to have encountered.

It is the fear of disposing of/getting rid of items correctly.

If it were up to K, he would either throw everything out or haul it all to Goodwill. No questioning whatsoever.

I can’t handle that.

From the odd things like the collection of free fridge magnets we have acquired from our insurance agent to half-used Christmas candles to the normal stuff we just no longer had a use for, I wanted to make sure each went to the right place once they left our home.

For the most part, the reason we still had all of these odd things was that I was waiting to figure out what to do with them. Sometimes I figured it out and sometimes I didn’t, but they stayed in our home longer than necessary and it was causing me a lot of stress as we wait for the baby’s arrival.

I figured out what to do with our mattress and got it recycled. I used Facebook Marketplace and my local Buy Nothing group to get items into the hands of people who want and need them for free. Those half-used Christmas candles got picked up by someone in that group! So did old Amazon Alexas, a Roku, underbed storage containers, an old backpack, an old crockpot, a desk lamp, a fruit bowl, headbands, two purses, an old Fitbit, tools, and a bunch of personal care products.

 

Utilizing the Buy Nothing Groups meant that my stuff wasn’t automatically sent to the giant truck that sits outside the Salvation Army to be sorted and possibly purchased down the road. My sheets, bed skirt, and duvet cover immediately got a second life, along with many other items!

We did have to institute a rule that if things aren’t sold or picked up within 2 weeks of posting, the items will be donated. That way we could keep the flow of removing items and they weren’t just sitting around until I went crazy.

There were also things that didn’t get figured out and I had to let go of it. That collection of fridge magnets needed to go and I had to begrudgingly toss them in the trash.

It has been hard and has taken a bit longer than necessary, but I am glad I took the time to make sure things went to a good home.

 

A Maternity Wardrobe: Options to Not Buy New

You know what is not that fun about being pregnant? Needing to create an entirely new wardrobe around your ever-expanding belly.

Well, some people might like that, but I do not.

Luckily, I have been able to craft my maternity wardrobe in a handful of ways that help keep my own personal impact down.

Borrowing From Others

My cousin and her friends have been accumulating maternity clothing for years and through a number of babies. They kept passing the collection back and forth to whoever was pregnant next.

They were happy to loan me their 3 BINS OF CLOTHES! After doing some sorting based on style and size, I picked out a good start of long sleeve shirts, sweaters, and some pants.

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A friend who had a baby in 2018 also let me borrow some more clothes from her. Now that I have multiple peoples’ clothes, I had to make a mark on the tag of each to help me remember whose is whose when it is time to give them back.

Buying Secondhand

I love ThredUP normally, so I looked to them for some secondhand maternity styles. I ordered some basics like a few t-shirts, tank tops, a dress, and leggings so far. The dress and leggings still had tags!

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Given that there is just one of everything it is important to check every once in a while on their ever-changing availability.

Using What I Already Own

For the most part, I am still working in my regular clothes into my wardrobe. I bought some longer tank tops that I can wear under a lot of my shirts to extend them and I have one of those belly bands to keep my pants up. In the beginning, I employed the hair tie trick with my pants.

Unfortunately, as I get bigger it is harder and harder to incorporate my normal clothes. My shirts and sweaters are not long enough and when I wear my regular pants with the belly band, I live in constant fear that the band has ridden up and 1) my unzipped fly is exposed or 2) my bottom is hanging out!

But Also Buying What I Need

This is not to say I have not bought anything brand new. I did get a couple basics (the tanks I mentioned, 2 long sleeves, tights, jeans) and some workout gear (2 tanks, 2 shirts, and 1 pair of leggings), but I consider my purchases to be pretty minimal so far. We shall see what happens when my belly really starts to get big in the third trimester!

Overall

The absolute worst part about buying maternity clothes (whether secondhand or brand new) is you cannot try them on! I literally have no idea what will fit me and basically, all stores that have maternity lines do not carry them in the store, meaning you have to order multiple styles and sizes just to see what works for your body! To add to that, most physical stores do not accept maternity style returns and require returns to be mailed in only.

It is frustrating and annoying and I totally get why leggings are the primary uniform of the pregnant woman.

Patience

If you know me personally, patient most likely wouldn’t be your adjective of choice to describe me.

But I have been thinking lately about patience and that is mostly because I started a new job that I am very very excited about. I graduated 6 years ago and I have been through 4 jobs since then. Some were good and some were not, but I continued to search, to network, and to interview.

I got rejected A LOT. Since 2012, I have applied for 393 jobs and received 60 first-round interviews. That is a success rate of 15%. It was disheartening and frustrating, but I had to be patient. It was worth the wait.

Patience is also an important trait when dealing with any environmental/waste/green tasks. Our society has pushed instant gratification on us. We use something once and then throw it out. We want something new, we buy it right now and get it shipped to our door the next day.

It seems counterintuitive to go against this, and harder, more difficult, and inconvenient, but it makes a bigger impact.

Take an extra two seconds and collect your kitchen scraps for a compost service.

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Search secondhand services for exactly what you are looking for and sell your items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and ThredUp. Or donate your stuff.

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Fix up what you already have whether it is a chair, jeans, or your dress pants,

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Collect personal care products and plastic bags, save your beyond repair clothing, take in your running shoes to be recycled, and return wire hangers from the cleaners.

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Grow your own vegetables or join a CSA.

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Shave with a safety razor.

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Take action on things you don’t want like junk mail, mail not addressed you and solicitations.

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Choose the slower shipping option.

All of these things take TIME, but I value the outcome more than the time it takes to bring my plastic bags back to the grocery store.

It takes patience to do these things instead of just throwing stuff into the trash can. Sure, that is easier and sure, that is faster.

But properly taking care of what comes in and out of your life is worth the wait.

An Easy Way to Secondhand Shop: thredUP

For the most part, I do a pretty good job of avoiding the temptations of shopping for new clothes. I don’t wander the mall for fun, or go window shopping, and I have unsubscribed from alluring marketing emails.

Sometimes I succumb to my desires and I end up trolling websites, adding things to my cart, feeling bad about it, and then never returning to purchase it.

I try and keep a list of items I am specifically looking for so I don’t get swept away by something trendy and end up impulse shopping.

Back to where I mentioned feeling bad about shopping, this is important. I am fully aware of all of the environmental and social costs associated with purchasing new clothing (water, resources, labor, shipping, etc.), which makes randomly purchasing pieces really hard for me (but just to be clear, I still do purchase new clothing).

Enter thredUP, a humongous repository of secondhand clothes filterable by size, brand, color, you name it! The problem I find with shopping for secondhand clothes in physical stores is sorting through what you are looking for. It takes time and patience.

With thredUP you can search specifically for what you are looking for and also create alerts when say a Madewell cardigan is added. That’s how I ended up with the cardigan on the right.

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Two J. Crew cashmere sweaters and a Madewell cardigan for much less $$$

I created my search and then waited for the right one to come along, but since there is only one of each item (usually), you need to act fast! By the time I checked my email alert, someone had already added it to their cart. An item can stay in someone’s cart for a specified amount of time and if it is not purchased it is opened back up. If you really like an item, you can check that you will auto-buy if didn’t end up getting purchased.

It was really easy and I used that feature to get my Madewell cardigan. I also set alerts for certain brands I am fond of, which is how I found the two cashmere J. Crew sweaters on the left. I wanted a cashmere J. Crew sweater but they retail for over $90. This one on thredUP was new with the tags still on for half the price. It is warm, cozy, and I love it.

A handful of my wardrobe has come from thredUP and I intend to add more pieces along the way. My coworker recently stopped by my office and asked if I had used thredUP before and my response was something like, “Yes, I have a bunch of clothes from there, this J. Crew sweater I am wearing is from thredUP! Oh wait, so is this Ralph Lauren skirt! I am wearing an entirely secondhand outfit!”

All in all, I recommend thredUP. I have not used other secondhand shopping sites like Poshmark yet but plan to take a look. I am on the hunt for a white denim jacket!

Do you have a place you love to secondhand shop? Let me know!

This post is not sponsored by thredUP, I just like their site and want to share! 

How Facebook Can Help With Secondhand Shopping

My love for Craigslist has not waned, but I have found a new place to add to my arsenal for buying items I need and selling items that don’t “spark joy.”

It came about when I started to sell our wedding decorations post-wedding. I posted lanterns and table numbers to Craigslist but heard that Facebook Marketplace was now the place to buy and sell. So, I tried it out.

In terms of selling, it is pretty easy. Just post your item and buyers can reply via Facebook Messenger. You can mark items as pending and then as sold once you have completed the transaction, providing a rating to your buyer. The downside is that Marketplace provides an “Ask for Details” button that automatically messages the seller asking if the item is available. From my experience, buyers like to use that button A LOT. I mean, if it is still posted, and not marked as pending, it is still available…

Buyers can also send customized messages about items and save items to come back to later. You can search specific areas, within a certain radius, as well as by category.

I cross posted all of my wedding decor on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I got the most responses to my items from Marketplace, and that’s where the majority of my sales came from. Seller beware though, while I did get more responses, the responses were a lot of unnecessary questions, beyond asking about its availability. People asked where I was located, if they could only buy specific items of the lot, and what dimensions where. All this information had already been included in the post’s details.

In addition to Marketplace, I have joined a number of community selling groups on Facebook, like Chicago, Buy, Hustle, and Trade, and Wedding & Party Recyclers Group.  I also am apart of a neighborhood group, so it is likely there is a group near where you live too.

Another group I am a member of on Facebook is the Chicago Buy Nothing group, where members post items that are available for someone else to take, or where members post items they are searching for. I posted moving boxes and supplies after we moved this summer and was glad someone else could use those items.

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I was just glad these boxes didn’t end up in the landfill.

The downside of using Facebook and Craigslist, of course, is having to field questions and coordinate with buyers when you could just drop your unwanted items off at Goodwill or Salvation Army.

I see myself adding Marketplace to my repository of places to search for items I am looking for locally. The opportunity to be able to pick up a sought after item from a neighbor down the street, for less than it would cost new, is a win-win for me.

Have you used Marketplace? What are your thoughts? Do you have any other apps or sites that you swear by?

Disclaimer: This post is not in any way affiliated with or sponsored by Facebook. 

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?

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.

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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.

 

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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?