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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?

 

I’ve Never Shopped Online So Much In My Life

Pre-pandemic I would occasionally shop online.

I most likely had an Amazon Prime order or two every couple of months and preferred to buy online and pick up in-store or leave things in my cart until I had multiple items to ship.

Fast forward the 50 days we have been in quarantine and that habit has changed drastically.

Living in a densely populated urban area like Chicago and being high risk since I am pregnant, my husband and I have made every effort to reduce our risk of contracting the virus by staying home (and luckily we are both able to work from home).

We have not set foot inside a physical grocery store in over 7 weeks. The last time I have been in an enclosed space with a number of people (that wasn’t the doctor’s office) was the pharmacy some 5 weeks ago before I realized I could just send my prescription to my house.

Every single thing we need gets delivered.

Normally I would find it annoying to get our groceries delivered in plastic bags even when we asked for paper and for the insulated bags Amazon delivers frozen items in to be non-recyclable or personal care products shipped in like 5 different shipments.

BUT, since we have a baby’s arrival rapidly approaching, the number of boxes and packaging we receive is exponentially more than just the standard young couple due to baby shower gifts and trying to stock up for the baby.

You see, I have this fear that it is going to be 3 AM with our newborn and we need some specific item and we try to buy it, but it is sold out or on backorder and won’t ship for an obscene amount of time.

To combat this scenario, I have been trying to be proactive and stock up on newborn needs before they arise. This means my cart at Target.com has approximately 20+ items in it, which is just insane. And with talk of diaper and wipe shortages, I am just trying to make sure we have enough to get us through an unknown amount of time.

So on top of the groceries and baby shower gifts, we are also getting those shipments.

This means we have A LOT OF BOXES coming through our house. Like A LOT.

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Our vestibule on a normal day.

A lot of boxes, a lot of plastic packaging, and a lot of waste and it seems to be never-ending.

I have to write notes for when deliveries are occurring each day throughout the week just to make sure I don’t forget to get something on the doorstep (you know since I don’t leave the house).

After opening items, we flatten the boxes and keep them outside on our deck until recycling day, which means from the alley down below, we look like crazy box hoarders. The reason we don’t take them down to the recycling carts immediately is two-fold:

  1.  More boxes will most likely be delivered the next day
  2.  Everyone else is ordering stuff too so the recycling carts are always packed full. We legit have to wait until Monday afternoons after the recycling gets picked up and then we run downstairs and stuff the boxes in the carts.
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Not shown: the boxes behind me, the boxes still in the nursery, and the unopened boxes still in the vestibule.

I have also been collecting the plastic bags, wraps, and bubble mailers that can be recycled in this gigantic plastic bag to one day recycle. Unfortunately, I don’t know when that would be. Anyone want to take my giant bag to the grocery store?!

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Anyone want to take this to the grocery store to be recycled for me?!

All the other non-recyclable packaging gets tossed in the trash.

It’s rough and I hate it, but there is not much I can do about it. Staying home and staying healthy is our number one priority right now. And there is no way I can do that without online orders.

Hopefully, the boxes should be slowing down with shower gifts petering out and most of my last-minute we-might-need-this-for-the-baby-because-this-list-says-so shopping completed. We still obviously need to get groceries though…

 

 

Does Chicago Require Grocery Stores to Provide Plastic Bag Recycling?

It all started the other week.

I had two bags full of all types of plastic bags and plastic film, which I take to recycle when one of the bags underneath the sink starts to overflow. I was stopping at Whole Foods for a different reason and brought my bags of bags along with me inside.

Now, I don’t usually shop at Whole Foods and was not sure where their plastic bag recycling was. At most grocery stores, it is by the door. I looked around and did not see anything, so I walked over to the customer service desk and waited until an employee could help me. When it was my turn I asked where the plastic bag recycling was and in the most joyous tone, the employee responded that they did NOT have plastic bag recycling, and then he turned to help someone else.

Stunned, I turned around and walked out of Whole Foods, completely forgetting what I had actually gone in there for.

In the car, I sat and tweeted at Whole Foods. I got no response. I was pretty peeved and wondered a whole bunch of things like:

How could a store that touts its amazing environmental stewardship not provide recycling? It sells items wrapped in plastic, should they not provide a proper way to dispose of it? 

Don’t all grocery stores offer plastic bag recycling? Jewel-Osco does, so does Target.

I was so confused, so I started looking more into it.

Plastic grocery bags and most any kind of plastic film, like bread bags or the plastic shrink wrap around toilet paper, cannot be recycled in Chicago’s blue bins. They get wrapped up in the machinery and cause a whole big mess. Learn more about that here and here.

According to the Department of Streets and Sanitation’s Chicago Recycling Guide: A-Z, “plastic shopping bags can be recycled at grocery stores, pharmacy’s and many big-box retailers.”

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And then further down it says “All Chicago grocery stores are required to accept plastic shopping bags for recycling. Bags from other stores are also accepted.”

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There seems to be some disconnect. Obviously, not all grocery stores, pharmacy’s and big-box retailers offer plastic bag recycling given my own personal experience.

So I started sleuthing…

To figure out where you can bring plastic bags/film, you could use Earth911‘s Where to Recycle tool. When I search “plastic bags” based on my zip code I get Jewel, Kohls, Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Lowes, and JCPenny (and that was only from 5  of the 11 pages of results). Mariano’s, where I usually bring my plastic bags is, amazingly, not listed.

You could also use Plastic Film Recycling. This search brought up Jewel, Target, Mariano’s, Walmart, Kohls, and 17 pages of results for my zip code.

But Whole Foods is not listed in either repository. Why?

I did some more digging into the Municipal Code of Chicago and found under Title 7 Health and Safety, the Chapter 7-30 Plastic Bag and Film Plastic Recycling Ordinance. The Code states that if a store does not provide plastic bags to customers, it does not have to provide recycling for them (based on my basic understanding of the code).

According to the Code:

   (j)   “Store” shall mean a retail or wholesale establishment, other than a food service establishment, where twenty-five percent (25%) or more of gross sales include prescription or non-prescription medicines and/or any cooked or uncooked article of food, drink, confection or condiment used for or intended to be used for human consumption off the premises, is stored, sold, prepared, cooked or offered for sale at retail such as candy manufacturers, confectioneries, fish markets, fruit and vegetable markets, grocery stores, convenience stores, meat markets, nut stores, dressed poultry markets or retail bakeries, bakery outlets or any similar place and provides plastic carryout bags to consumers in which to place these products.

It turns out Whole Foods does not actually provide plastic bags to their customers, thus exempting them. I would not know that Whole Foods does not give out plastic bags because I do not shop there and even if I did, I bring my own reusable bags. Go figure!

So to answer the question stated in the title of this blog post, yes, Chicago does require grocery stores to provide plastic bag recycling as long as it fits within the definition of a “store.”

 

 

 

 

Those Pesky Plastic Bags

I had a friend ask me what I do with plastic bags that I eventually accumulate.

Not just the standard grocery bags, but the plastic packaging, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, or other types of bags that are labeled as plastic #4 and don’t belong in the curbside recycling bin.

These bags should not be tossed in with your regular recycling because they basically mess up all the machinery and cause all sorting to come screeching to a halt as they have to pull bags free from the machines.

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As any normal person does, I hoard them under the kitchen sink until I have a full bag. Then I drop them off at my local grocery store, like Mariano’s, Target, Jewel, Walmart, and more. Check here to see what stores have drop-off locations near you.

In reality, we shouldn’t be using these plastic bags in the first place, but sometimes we get them. They get handed to us before we get a chance to even say something, or a friend sends you home with your leftovers wrapped up in a bag.

It happens. It’s okay.

But it is important to note that using plastic bags because you can bring them to the grocery store to be recycled is NOT THE ANSWER.

Instead, bring your own reusable bags to the store. You’ll also save $0.07 on the bag tax (if you live in Chicago, IL).