My Eco Week

Does it ever seem like all of your things need replacing, all at once? This week alone, I had to run errands for three different broken things! I’m feeling really excited that I was able to find a sustainable way to replace all three of them–here are some great resources for reusable and recyclable household products.

Soap dispenser

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Image from Rail19’s Etsy shop

I was getting tired of cheap, plastic soap dispensers, some of which were too gross to refill and others that were too poorly made to be reused. Enter Rail19, an Etsy shop specializing in glass soap/lotion dispensers and spray bottles. My favorite part is the recycled glass section, which has dispensers in various shapes, sizes, colors, and overall styles. For people searching to use the smallest amount of plastic possible, there are metal pumps, but those items tend to be more expensive ($15+). Since I’m all about saving money, I opted for a recycled glass bottle with a BPA-free, FDA-approved plastic pump for $11.50. Rail19 shipped quickly and my package arrived safely. I filled my bottle with some bulk liquid soap from Ocean State, and it has worked perfectly! Highly recommend.

 

Paper towels

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Photo by Josh Mormann on https://www.flickr.com/photos/noego/4610114040

I’ve been thinking about our paper towel consumption since visiting a family-friend and admiring her unbleached paper goods, including paper towels and toilet paper. We were running low on paper goods this week, which got me inspired to find a different solution. While I’m not in the position to be purchasing fancy toilet paper–it’s clearly not reusable, and I’d have to go out of my way to buy it–I started looking into reusable paper towel options on Etsy. And, once again, I came across my current favorite shop, Green Little Nest. I can guarantee that this won’t be the last time I mention Green Little Nest, mostly because I have purchased so many wonderful items from the shop! I love my reusable organic cotton facial rounds for applying daily toner and skin medication, and their mini-baskets are perfect for holding the cotton rounds and other little trinkets.

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Photo from Green Little Nest’s Etsy shop

Green Little Nest’s “Unpaper” towels are super absorbent, 11×11 inches square, and made from unbleached organic cotton. As with all of their organic cotton products, items become more absorbent with each wash (awesome!), and Green Little Nest recommends washing your items before their first use to enhance their quality. I ordered the single sample for $1.75, and it will have its pre-wash tomorrow morning. I’ll report back once I’ve had a chance to test them out, but for now, know that Green Little Nest has yet to disappoint!

 

Grocery bags

Easy Knit produce bag // www.deliacreates.com

Photo from deliacreates.com

There are many, many days where my entire outfit is hand-me-downs from a friend. I usually love these items so much more than anything purchased new, and as a result I wear them in quickly. So, in accordance with the ongoing theme of my week, a cozy pair of hand-me-down cotton leggings ripped down the seam (luckily I was leaving work when it happened, and avoided any embarrassment–phew!). I didn’t want to throw away good fabric, but the leggings were definitely irreparable. What to do?

Easy Knit produce bag // www.deliacreates.com

Photo from deliacreates.com

Somehow after moving in with my boyfriend, I abandoned my reusable produce bags. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have enough bags to carry the produce for two peoples’ meals; perhaps I just got lazy. Then, while food shopping last week, I noticed how often I pulled those little plastic bags off the reel, and how they got thrown away right when we got home. So with grocery bags on my radar and a pair of ripped leggings, I decided to turn my pants into mesh satchels for produce. Here is a super straightforward and helpful tutorial from Delia Creates. It’s possible to make these without a sewing machine, too! Hooray sustainability!

What are your favorite eco-friendly “replacement” products? Let me know in the comments!

Stay savvy,

–Kim

Free Shipping from Swap.com!

There’s nothing I love more than a good thrift store find. As a teacher, I keep my own stash of kids’ clothing in my classroom for muddy days and messy lessons. There’s no point in buying brand new clothes for my dearests, especially because I rarely get them back. Although sifting through the school lost-and-found often gives some options for my students in a pinch, we don’t always find the right size in the bin. It would ruin my day if a student is uncomfortable when learning because they were splashing in puddles or painting a mural! My kids have taught me that the most fun and rewarding things in life are often the messiest.

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From http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/photo-70783, CC0 Public Domain

When I discovered Swap.com, I was on a hunt for child-sized snow pants (living in New England, it’s impossible to get through the winter months without them!) I did not want to spend a fortune on new snow pants, but my local thrift stores didn’t have any in the right size. A little poking around brought me to Swap.com, the largest online consignment and thrift store. The webpage operates like any other online retailer, with helpful search filters and options to find exactly what you’re looking for. While I’ve shopped for children’s items only, there are “departments” for women, men, kids, baby, maternity, and toys and games. There’s even a clearance section across all of the departments, which is where I’ve found most of my purchases.

So, back to the snow pants:  Swap.com had several pairs, and I bought two. Each was less than $10 and in excellent used condition. Next came several pairs of unisex sweatpants and an unopened 10-pack of children’s socks. I’m about to “invest” in some shorts, given that I had 3 pairs “borrowed” yesterday!

Not only are these purchases extremely inexpensive (think $4-6 for a pair of kids pants), they ship quickly, can be ordered from home conveniently, and encourage reuse and recycling of perfectly good clothing. As stated in their mission,

Our mission is to be the largest online consignment and thrift store in the world, helping our customers to be environmentally sustainable consumers while saving money on their favorite brands. We do this by making it easier than ever before to buy and sell pre-owned items from clothing and apparel to toys and games for men, women and kids.

While I have never tried to sell my items on Swap.com, it must be straightforward, given that the site has over two million unique items for sale. For information on selling your items, see this link. I just went through my summer clothes to get ready for the new season, so maybe I will try selling on Swap.com and report back on my experience.

If you’re ready to start shopping, you’re in luck–Swap.com is offering FREE SHIPPING on all items until tonight (Saturday, 4/29 at 11:59PM)!!! It’s the perfect opportunity to give Swap.com a try.  Just use this code at checkout: FS042829

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By Justinknechtel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Do you have a favorite thrift store or online re-seller? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Stay savvy,

–Kim

Current Fave: H&M Lyocell Jacket in Powder Pink

Last night, I was searching through my favorite lifestyle blog, The Everygirl, and I came across this super chic pink jacket from H&M.

 

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Image created and owned by H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB

I’ve coveted a light pink jacket ever since Lorelai Gilmore sported one, oh so long ago…

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While looking at the H&M jacket’s product description, I noticed the fabric was called “lyocell” and the item was tagged as being “Conscious.” This certainly peaked my interest!

Looking into this further, I discovered that lyocell is one of the most eco-friendly fabrics on the market. It is made from repurposed wood pulp and can be altered to match many different textiles, including suede, leather, and silk. Because of the (natural) chemical processes necessary to make the fibers, Lyocell is more expensive to manufacture than other eco-friendly fabrics like cotton, but it is naturally wrinkle-resistant. So at $49.99, a new eco-friendly jacket in the color of my dreams would clearly be a savvy purchase!

So, on to the “Conscious” label on the H&M site:

I’ve always been a huge fan of H&M for providing a full range of sizes at affordable prices, but I didn’t realize that sustainable practices were at the core of their mission. As stated on their website:

H&M’s business concept is to offer fashion and quality at the best price in a sustainable way.

Searching further, I came across my favorite thing on the H&M website (even more than lyocell pink coats!), the company’s sustainability reporting page. I was blown away by the transparency offered to the public, including all GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) sustainability reports, a Supplier Compliance list, and a Working Conditions statement.

The label of “Conscious” refers to a collection of clothing showcased for being produced in this excellent manner with sustainable fabrics (there are also menswear and kids Conscious collections). In H&M’s own words:

Conscious is the name for everything we do for a more sustainable fashion future. Hundreds of Conscious Actions – big and small, short- and long-term – are dedicated each year to make sure these commitments are put into practice. Our Conscious fashion collection is just one of the many examples of what we do for a more sustainable fashion future.

This all sounds well and good, but looking at the other pieces from the Conscious collections, I noticed that they were arguably more expensive than the lyocell jacket, to an unreasonable amount ($99 for a kids dress!). Therefore, since my jacket was clearly a bargain and a steal, how could I not buy it?!

Plus, H&M offers a Conscious Home collection, which is extremely affordable and offers a $4.99 organic cotton cat-printed tea towel. Sold!

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Image created and owned by H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB

Eco-friendly production from a company that values ethical working conditions and produces goods in all sizes and at an affordable price point–count me in! As per my routine, I’m off to my closet to find one thing to donate so that I can justify adding my jacket.

Stay savvy!

–Kim

(For a slightly more cynical perspective on H&M’s Conscious line, see this wonderful Quartz article. It’s not enough to dissuade me from the excitement of the pink lyocell jacket, but the author, Marc Bain, brings up some interesting points about the inherent contradictions of running a large chain and being sustainable)