Wednesday, March 14, 2012

40 Bags - bag #25 (for real) and #26

"Upcycling" is a word and a concept that I like. It means to make something that has become useless or worthless into something new that has as much value as the original item had when it was new. As opposed to recycling, which produces items of lesser quality than the original. Like plastic bottles or paper made from recycled plastic or paper isn't as nice or as durable as the original.

A while ago I think I wrote about how once I realized how much paper we throw away, I wanted to do something about reducing that amount. We were going through lots of paper towels with all the kids living here, and thinking about how every single paper towel was used only one time and then thrown away started to make me sick. Many times a paper towel would be used to dry someone's freshly-washed hands and then be thrown away - clean paper going in the trash! What a waste of money and landfill space!

In January I bought dozens of good-quality white washcloths that were so cheap thanks to a combination of a great 30% off-coupon and a good white sale going on at Kohl's. I found a big basket at Garden Ridge Pottery that was 50% off. I keep the cloths in the basket on the kitchen counter and so far it is working just fine. If I have to replace the washcloths every year, it will save me $120 per year. If I can get two years out of them, then I'll have saved over $250. It does cost something to launder them, it's true, but I'm already washing whites and towels every week anyway. There are a few "gross" jobs that I will continue to use paper towels for - patting dry raw chicken pieces, covering bacon while it's microwaving, wiping off paintbrushes - but for everything else we've been using these cloths.

On to the next thing-

My kids don't like to have a top sheet on their beds. I don't get it - it feels so much nicer and cleaner to me to get into a bed that has a fitted and a flat sheet. But they don't feel that way. Fine. Consequently I have a few flat sheets that have never been used that match fitted sheets that have been worn out and thrown away. I had the brilliant idea that I would make napkins out of these never-been-slept-on sheets. I cut them into big squares with my rotary cutter, hemmed them on the sewing machine, and put them in a cute wire basket that I found at the Goodwill for $2.99. This isn't as big a money-saver as the paper towels but it's still something, and there's also the reduction of paper products that were getting thrown away after a single use. Plus I've been wanting cloth napkins, and they aren't cheap to buy. Now I don't have to.

On to the next thing-

You know I love that show Hoarders. One thing I've had to come to grips with after seeing some episodes is that craft supplies can be clutter. These crafty hoarders had big plans and wonderful intentions but somehow it all got to be too much for them. In order for me to not end up like that, I'll have to make as many things as I have the materials for or get rid of some of it. I have sentimental reasons for keeping it and I have lots of good intentions and ideas, so all the necessary ingredients are there for a potential problem. In the last couple of months I've finished a few projects that used up some of my supplies. By making one full-sized afghan, one baby afghan, 3 pairs of mittens, and 3 hats, I've used up 18 full skeins of yarn and lots of little leftover balls of yarn. These are all being given away as gifts.

The crazy thing is that all that yarn has been used up and it's not even made a noticeable dent in the pile. I have a lot of yarn.

Bags #25 and 26: two sheets and 18+ skeins of yarn are outta here. (Well, the sheets aren't technically "outta here", but they have been made over into something useful and are no longer taking up space in a drawer where they had been waiting for...what? I don't know, perhaps a sudden, emergency shortage of flat sheets in various sizes?)


  1. I implemented the kitchen cloth washrag idea. I keep them flat in a regular white kitchen tub and when they're used, they go into a wire basket in the corner. As you say, I wash white things each week, and there is no extra material used to wash them. Excellent idea.

    I'm thinking I'll use your flat sheet idea, too. You're very inventive and I can't wait to hear your next great idea!

  2. Maybe you could take all that money you are saving and do something awesome with it, like donate it to a wildlife fund, or to the city parks or something.

  3. Hi Amy,

    I think you are doing wonderful! Here is a post I wrote about my conversion from paper to cloth...

    It adds up as we do not have the constant clutter of the wrappings, the paper towels and tubes, and on and on.

    I am really impressed with your journey so far!