Upcycling Milk Crates to a Shoe Rack

02.06.2018

0600

Materials:

  • 2 Milk crates (about 12″ cubes)
  • Twelve 2″ Multi-Purpose Construction Screws
  • (Optional) Three 1″ wood screws – (for creating the holes)
  • 2 Wood boards (12″ x 11-1/4″ x 1/2″)
  • 16 small screws for holding seats in place
  • Pencil

Tools:

  • Power Screwdriver
  • Table saw / Mitre Saw (or saw it by hand with a rip hand saw)

So I needed a small bench shoe rack piece of furniture. All of the designs and products I flipped through on the internet weren’t quite what I had in mind. I needed a fairly short lengthed bench that didn’t need to store a lot of shoes. I also wanted a compact design. I only own six pairs of shoes and I don’t wear them all in the same season so the rest of the room would be for my family.

I knew I had a few milk crates, which I saw the potential use for this project. It was simple idea and I knew what I wanted the final product to look like.

The interior space within each milk crate was 12″ wide, 12″ high and 10-1/4″ deep. The height of the crate was enough room for two levels for shoe storage.

DSC_8825 - Copy

Since I was going to use two milk crates, I went ahead and found two random wood boards about 1/2″ thick. The boards I found were slightly wider than the depth of the crates, but I left the extra inch for larger shoes.

So using a miter saw, I cut each piece of wood board down to 12″ x 11-1/4″.

DSC_8834 - Copy

Next I divided the interior height in half and created a guideline down the middle. Since the crate is plastic, I used an exacto blade to lightly score the midline.

DSC_8837

Using the wood screws and my power screwdriver, I pinpointed the locations of where I wanted my 2″ screws to be located. I like using the wood screws when locating holes in plastic because I can hold the shank of the screw and still guide the power screwdriver to create the straight hole.

wood screw Diagram

DSC_8838

After the holes are created, I took the 2″ Multi-Purpose Construction Screws and screwed them into the premade holes.

DSC_8841DSC_8843

For the four screws that were located further towards the back of the box, I screwed the 2″ Multi-Purpose Construction Screws inwards. And for the two screws located towards the opening of the box, I screwed them outwards.

I wanted the back of the box to be supported more since it was further back. Also, I didn’t want anything sharp located towards the front opening.

DSC_8842 - Copy (2)

I simply install each box with a board, placing the boards on top of the screws. The boards fit well and were snug enough where they didn’t move either.

Most shoes are longer than 10-1/4″, so leaving the extra 1″ helps with different sized shoes. If you need to store boots or shoes that wouldn’t fit the original designed space, you can simply remove one of the boards and the two screws closest to the opening. (I left the two screws here to show the original design)

So there you have it, you can create a simple seat and shoe storage very quickly and with simple materials. You can install a wood board on top to create a bench or stack these crates on top of a 2″ x 4″ frame to have one more level. There’s a variety of designs this can break out into. I might just do that when the spring season rolls around.

Hope this post jogged up ideas!

DSC_8858 - Copy

DSC_8853 - Copy

Update:

I wanted to secure a seat on top of the crates so I took another extra piece of wood board and lined it next to the piece I usually keep on top of the creates.

DSC_9711

I took my pencil and traced the crate pattern on the underside of each board and then used small screws to outline at least two crate holes using the small screws. In order to know where I had to place my screws, I flipped my screws over so that they would be standing on their heads and then gauged where the sharp end of the screw would land. The head of the screws had to hug the insides of the traced corner, so I knew where to place it. Wherever the screw could touch both edges of the location, was where I knew I had to place the screw.

I measured the location for the screws in this manner because I wanted the screw to fit right inside of the hole I traced. The head of the screw as well as the thread of the screws had to fit comfortably into the existing holes, once it was flipped over.

DSC_9708

I didn’t screw the screws in the entire length of the thread, so be very aware of the depth of the wood piece you pick out and the screw length that you choose as well. The idea here was to still have the screws sticking out of the board so it would fit nicely into the holes that were traced.

DSC_9708DSC_9705

Once I placed the boards back onto the crates, the top was created into a quick seat to use while putting on shoes (or taking them off).

 

DSC_9721

So there you have it! I like this much more now with the seat on top, and secured into place.

 

Advertisements

Upcycling Fabric Shower Curtains

12.05.2017

0600

Materials:

  • Two 72″ x 72″ Fabric Shower Curtains

Tools:

  • Sewing Machine
  • Sewing Kit

 

DSC_6896

Fabric Shower curtains are usually  made with polyester fabric. A few years ago, I had ordered extra fabric shower curtains and I really wanted to use up the material. I had previously posted a quick blog post about using fabric shower curtains as temporary screens for doors in Alternative Screen For Doors.

But now I wanted to see if I could upcycle the material again for another purpose.  This upcycling project works well if you have solid color curtains. I wanted to create a sheer curtain layer to hang with each of the three sets of my existing window curtains. I thought it would be interesting to upcycle my extra fabric shower curtains to sheer curtains for my windows. I still like the patterns I choose and with the sheer curtains up against my windows, the patterns would be illuminated as the sun hit them each morning.

So I took down each of my existing window curtains and measured them to see how much fabric I needed from the shower curtains. The width of the window wasn’t a problem since I had 72″ to work with. The only variable was the height of each curtain.

For my multicolored shower curtain, I divided the shower curtain in half length wise and width wise equally. I had planned to use the top half of this curtain to create my first sheer window curtain set. The bottom half would be combined with the top half of the bamboo curtain, to create the third set of window curtains.

InterDesign Vivo Botanical Fabric Shower Curtain-72x 72, Purple-Tan- LG - Copy

For my bamboo print shower curtain, I measured the height that I initially wanted starting from the bottom of the curtain. I did this because I wanted the second curtain set to be completely covered by the pattern. I left the white void at the top of the bamboo curtain because I knew I was going to use it in the third set of window curtains. I had planned to sew the top half of the bamboo shower curtains to the bottom half of the multicolored shower curtain to create the last set of sheer window curtains.

InterDesign Anzu Shower Curtain, Green- LG2 - Copy

I then pinned the edges that had been cut using sewing pins and hemmed them to clean up the trim around the shower curtain.

DSC_6889

Since the width of each shower curtain piece was wider than the individual window curtain pieces, I tucked and folded the shower curtain pieces to fit each window curtain width accordingly. I only sewed about 6″ up the shower curtain piece to hold the folded in piece in place, and across the bottom. You can sew the entire height of the folded piece, but I simple choose not to.

DSC_6893

DSC_6892

Since I know I want to keep these curtain designs as is, I decided to sew the new sheer curtain layer to my existing window curtains.  You don’t have to sew them, you can use safety pins as a temporary solution if you’re not sure about keeping the sheer layers, or if you want to change them out. Make sure you decide which side of the sheer curtain you want to face towards the window and which side of your existing window curtain you want to face inwards into your home. I personally don’t care about what my curtain looks like to the outside world so I have the nicer pattern facing inwards. This is why adding a sheer layer helps the presentation of my curtains to the outside world.

DSC_6891

To secure my curtains, I had initially made cord tiebacks with leftover material from an old bed sheet, in order to keep my curtains open. With the new sheer layer, I can tie back the solid color window curtain and leave the sheer layer or I can wrap them both back to let in even more sunlight.

 

Use What You Have

 

12.20.2016

0800

dsc_5217

dsc_5263dsc_5265

“Why I don’t recommend a lot of separate items…”

You’re looking at everything I own in my kitchen. That’s all of it, although my silverware and kitchen tools aren’t pictured. Some kitchen items are marketed to have specific uses, but you’d be surprised at how many kitchen items can have multiple uses and how some kitchen tools really aren’t necessary at all. Even when it coms to bathroom items, I don’t have a separate soap for my body and my face (I use separate bars… but it’s still the same bar soap brand). I use baking soda as toothpaste and I don’t use band aids (I use paper tape with gauze).

For those of you who are moving into this lifestyle, I understand the need to buy compostable cotton swabs or a bamboo set of utensils to carry around, instead of grabbing a set from your existing silverware. In order to transition to this zero waste lifestyle, you’re altering your behavior that you’d developed for however many years you’ve existed on Earth.

However, I don’t recommend buying into the “buy all new things because nothing else can substitute it” mantra. The likelihood is that you already have items that you can use, but for different purposes and the transition is simply altering your behavior and mindset. I understand the novelty behind this zero waste movement, but a lot of the times, I’ve noticed that a few bloggers will recommend a lot of new items. Part of this movement is to try to NOT create waste and when you buy more stuff, more than likely you’re producing some form of waste.

For kids, I understand that it make take a few colors and some ownership of their personal products so they can personally take part in this movement or to break away from what they already like and know. Also, a lot of glass and stainless steel items  may be to heavy for them to carry around, or that they may not be careful enough to take care of such items. For adults however, I think we should really try to  create as many uses for a single product, as much as possible. Products that are designed for a specific use and a certain function, will likely not be as versatile for any other use.

Here are some of the items you don’t necessarily have to buy:

  1. Handkerchief –> Use existing fabric napkin or you can make your own from old pillowcases (just try to make sure the material is 100% cotton)
  2. Cloth napkin in  your “To Go Lunch Kit” –> Use existing fabric napkin
  3. Silverware in  your “To Go Lunch Kit”–> Use existing silverware (unless you’re going to pass through TSA [Transportation Security Administration] at the airport or some kind of security metal detector, then carry around a set of bamboo utensils)
  4. Eco lunchbox –> Use existing Tupperware
  5. Placemats –> Make your own from old bed sheets or pillowcases (Just remember to layer them up so it’s a thicker pile)
  6. Re-useable Produce Bags –> Make our own re-useable produce bags from old bed sheets and pillow cases (just make sure it’s cotton, with a decent thread count so it won’t fall apart as easily.)
  7. Spice Jars –> Just re-use the space jars you already own (remember to tare the weight before you refill it up. I usually carve the weight into the lid so I never forget)

This list could go on and on, but I’m keeping in mind that each person has a different journey on this path of zero waste. But if you can, reuse what you already own, there’s no point to wasting your money if it’s not necessary. Also, the more stuff you buy and if you’re not purging items in your home, you’re essentially just adding to the amount of possessions you’ll now be responsible for. So don’t give yourself more work, seriously… life will do that down the line… apparently it’s plentiful.. like pens.. stupid free pens.

What I Stopped Buying- Garage, Living Room and Holidays

11.10.2016

0800

2016-07-26 12.26.262016-07-26 12.28.26

My last part in my ongoing list of “Items I’ve stopped buying” focuses on my garage, living room and holiday items. This list is very small in reference to the items I frequently bought. The garage items focus around doing laundry and the items needed to do laundry. The holiday items refer to items I used to buy for wrapping gifts.

Doing my laundry is my least favorite chore and ever since I simplified the amount of clothes I own, it’s not as bad as it used to be. (My capsule wardrobe now consists of 27 items.) But also not needing dryer sheets or dropping my items off at a dry cleaners also make for a simple laundry routine. I have so few items when I do laundry, that I simply hang everything up when I’m done. I used to sit and fold my items for a good amount of time, and had to set aside time to do it.

Admittedly, my simplistic routines have made me slightly lazier, but it’s also saved me time so I’m not packing my days off with things I need to get done. I actually HAVE time to be lazy- it’s weird. But I’ll take it. It’s weird because I’ve been conditioned to constantly be busy or with the tasks I need to get done each weekend or every other weekend. These tasks are supposed to take up a good amount of my day (that way I feel I’ve accomplished something for that day). When you get to the point when you find time to breathe (I mean a lot of time), it’s well worth the zero waste journey.

There’s more planning involved in the beginning and routines to get used to, but honestly….. who doesn’t love naps??

GARAGE

  1. Dryer Sheets ——————-> N/A
  2. Dry Cleaning ——————-> Hang items in bathroom while showering so they can steam.(I’ll iron if I ABSOLUTELY have to.)
  3. Laundry Soap ——————> Paper Packaged Powder Laundry Soap

LIVING ROOM

  1. Candles (Bed Bath & Beyond) ——> Sage leaves
  2. Flower Bouquets —————-> Fresh Flowers from backyard

HOLIDAYS

  1. Wrapping Paper —————-> Colorful Bandanas  [wrap and tuck] & old t-shirts made into reuseable gift bags.

Zero Waste And Minimalism

05.23.2016

0800

DSC_4565As I’ve traveled along this zero waste journey and learned to design life hacks along the way, I’ve noticed that I’ve needed fewer and fewer items in my life. The definition of a zero waste life is “to live a life without producing trash”. The definition of minimalism is “used to describe a trend in design and architecture, wherein the subject is reduced to its necessary elements. This design strives to achieve simplicity”. In a strange way, these two lifestyles can become intertwined.

For myself, I think that I’ve dwindled down my lifestyle so much, that it’s become as minimal as it can possibly get, yet I still strive to live a life without producing trash. With each routine that I have, whether it’s my morning bathroom routine, my morning kitchen routine or even my evening bathroom routine, the steps in each routine have been analyzed and reconsidered to make each routine to have the least amount of steps possible.

When it comes to my possessions, I keep only what is necessary and those possessions usually have more than one use. The less possessions I have, the clearer my mind tends to function, because I have less responsibility to take care of each item. That sounds lazy right? Maybe it is. The visual aspect of my living space is simple and easy to maintain yet it is as functional as I need it to be. When I move through my spaces, my gestures and motions are purposeful and tactful. When I have to start a task, I know the limitations of my tools and materials and I know how easy it is to access them. Each task is mapped out in a clear cut list that doesn’t falter.

For my wardrobe, I have created a 30-piece (year round) capsule wardrobe in which all of the pieces I own, match to one another. I did this because I wanted to hold myself accountable for the items in my wardrobe. Each day, when I pick out an outfit, there are a set amount of choices I can make. There will be another post on my capsule wardrobe soon.

Even in my bathroom and kitchen, I keep only the tools I need and nothing more. In my kitchen, I substitute a few tools for other uses, due to the fact that I think the amount of kitchen tool designs has gotten way out of hand. There’s literally a tool for every single cooking task, yet, twenty years ago they didn’t exist- and people still managed to produce edible and delicious food. The way I see it, is the more stuff I have, the more time and energy I have to dedicate to maintaining the use of that product. If I can somehow eliminate that product, yet still find the same use from another- I’ll donate the item.

Mind you, I’m also not a gourmet cook. I don’t care about presentation of any dish, which is why I don’t care for a library of tools that one might want for food preparation.  If the food is on my plate or my bowl, tastes good and won’t make me sick- I’m pretty happy.

Shopping At Thrift Stores

 

05.09.2016

0800

Shopping at thrift stores can be a very fun experience. Thrift stores and discount stores are big stores that sell items that are ready to be picked apart and reused. Sometimes you’ll find treasures and sometimes you’ll find standard house ware items. The way I see it, is that every thrift store sells many gems and moments from the history of design. It really is a bunch of stuff squished onto to a rack or shelf for the next owner to pick up. When I walked around the clothing area for men and women, it felt like a sea of fabric, but old fabric that didn’t smell like chemicals and more like time and dust. There were rows upon rows of clothes to chose from. I needed to find two blouses and I actually found them really fast. The clothing was not divided up by color but instead by size. I was looking for blouses with collars so they were easy to spot on the rows of squished hangers.  I honestly wanted to keep looking for more stuff, but I know I didn’t need it and it was better that I leave the rest for those who are actually in need of those clothes.

I then proceeded to move over to the bags, I was looking for a a bag to store my tools in as well as a new shoulderbag. I’m going to switch out my toolbox and purse for more efficient bags. (That topic will also be posted in the future). When I found the bag section, it was an amazing wall of colors. The photo I took was only 1/3 of the wall, but there really was a lot of variety to choose from.

Whenever I buy a new item, I always have a smal criteria list that I go through.

Criteria List:

  1. Function- Will it logically serve the function(s) that I intend it for?
  2. Materials- Is it made of durable material that is also easy to clean? (Basically, can I toss it in the washing machine?)
  3. Future- Will it be able to grow with my lifestyle? Or will I need to replace it in one to two years

As long as those three questions can be answered, I’ll most likely purchase the item. Aesthetically, not everything that fulfills those criteria points will look high end. A lot of the times when I purchase items, I alter the design somehow to fit my lifestyle better.

You can always get what you want and with a little creativity, thread and a needle- I tend to extend my personal touch in many of the items I bring home. I still think that thrift stores are a great place to purchase items and seek out needed items. In addition to that, by purchasing second hand items, you’re saving it from the landfill and giving it another chance to be used once again.

2016-04-08 13.05.18

2016-04-08 13.06.21

Below are some of the few items I purchased. The last image is of the trash I produced from my purchases.

DSC_4249

DSC_4250

DSC_4245DSC_4252

Hand Sewn Repairs

 

04.20.2016

0845

Although I do enjoy using a sewing machine to stitch together projects, I initially learned how to hand sew as a child. Hand sewing isn’t as daunting as it sounds, although it takes a little bit of practice, anyone can learn how to sew by hand. I hand sew items when I need a quick fix or a temporary fix. As a person who lives a zero waste life, repairing clothing helps in the fact that I can hang onto clothing that I still love to wear. Learning to repair items is essential to living a zero waste life for that fact that I simply don’t own that many items but also the fact that I don’t want to create more waste in the landfill.

Granted, once a piece of clothing or item is beyond repair, I will have to somehow repurpose it or it becomes trash. Even when I’m ready to donate my clothes and buy second hand clothes, I still prefer to repair the item before donation- there’s no reason that the next person should receive an unkept possession.

DSC_4102DSC_4104

Sometimes I need to edit products for my daily needs so hand sewing is a better option than using a sewing machine. After I’m done, I simply add my leftover thread to my trash pile. Although the leftover thread is inevitable, it’s a better alternative than going out and making new purchases. I have quite a bit of leftover thread in my trash pile so I plan to find an alternative use for it.

DSC_3734

DSC_3737

I like to use the running stitch, hemming stitch and the backstitch. I favor the running stitch because it’s a simple stitch that is clean and easy to make. The hemming stitch is good for joining two layers of material together, when you want to hide the stitch seam. The backstitch is good for a more secure version of the running stitch. I use the backstitch on items that may have more weight on either side of the stitch, or when there s a chance that the stitch might come apart due to the materials being pulled in opposing directions.

There are many types of stitches to learn about and if you can master just one or two of them, you can save a great deal of time and money. Learning how to hand sew items is a skill that anyone can develop and learn, it is very easy once you understand how fabric is held together and why certain products use certain stitches. A lot of the times, picking out the right stitch is simple as just copying what the manufacture used on your product.

Types of Stiches

My Sewing Kit

 

04.18.2016

0845

For my sewing kit, I use a  3-Tier Stainless Steel Food Carrier by To Go Ware. It is also known as a tiffin set, which is a nifty lunch box system that hails from India. For kits or sets that have many small items, I like to use these types of container systems due to the fact that these containers take up very little space and can be stored away quickly. This food carrier also came with a small cylindrical snack container as well.

DSC_3722

In my top tier, I have a few extra zippers, some extra safety pins, my white LYRA Aqua Color Water-Soluble Wax Crayon, and a measuring tape. I also have a small coin purse that contains extra buttons. In my middle tier, I keep extra elastic bands and the small snack container, which holds my Pearlized Head Straight Pins by Singer. My bottom tier is where I keep my extra thread, sewing needles and my metal finger thimble. I usually keep only three different colors of thread, which are black, white and grey. I only keep these colors on hand for the fact that I can match pretty much any sewing stitch to any one of those colors.

In addition to the 3-Tier Stainless Steel Food Carrier, I also have a pair of 8″ Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears and a seam ripper. This sewing kit is used for mostly hand stitching and repairs. I do have a sewing machine that I borrow and that comes with its own set of supplies as well.

Knowing how to stitch and repair is essential in the health and life of my clothes. I prefer to repair my clothes instead of going out and replacing it with a new piece because each piece that is in my wardrobe is very special to me. Even when I decide to replace a piece of clothing, I still want it to be in good condition for the next owner. I never understood how much sewing would become a part of my clothing maintenance, I always just considered that keeping my clothes clean was good enough. Knowing a few types of stitches will save you a lot of frustration and money in the long run.

DSC_3723DSC_3724DSC_3725DSC_3726

Creating Working Surfaces

04.06.2016

0600

Although furniture is designed for specific uses, there are a few opportunities when you can design multiple functions from one piece of furniture with a few design hacks. Using or having a flat surface is essential in pieces such as tables and desks. If the furniture piece is going to have items set on it in a balanced manner, you’ve got a table style of furniture. I approach the need for flat surfaces in a few different ways.

When it comes to the need for a coffee table when I’m sitting at the couch, my ottomans become my table. I either flip the ottoman lids over and use the back as the flat and hard surface to set items on, or I use a tray on top of the ottoman to give it more stability. I’ll usually use the tray if I need to serve guests and  if I need to move many items all at once (and when the clean up process is also all at once). If I’m alone I’ll usually bring the items over individually.

DSC_3877

DSC_3878

When it comes to more functional use of surfaces, I utilize my drawers into pull out surfaces as well. As you can see, I place my cutting board across my drawer to create a place to use it. And because I don’t need to use that particular drawer often, the cutting board stays where it is. If you use this method, as long as your cutting board is sturdy and there’s enough support on at least three sides of the board, you can utilize the drawer a a location for your cutting board. Keep in mind that you may not want to apply a great deal of pressure when using your cutting board, while it’s balanced on the drawer edges. The further you pull out your drawer, the weaker the drawer attachment is to it’s rightful sliding hinges. Basically, if you’re going to carve a heavy food product or dish, please move it to a sturdier surface. When it comes to the other drawer next to it, I use a clear cutting board, which I’ve had for awhile, and slide it out of the way when I need to access the silverware.

DSC_3868

DSC_3867

Materials:

  • Two pillowcases
  • Safety pins

My bedroom came with a closet system from IKEA, which was also designed with a roll out pant rack. I  hang up my coats and a few other clothing items, but I prefer to fold the rest of my clothes. Folding clothes is easier for me due to the fact that I simply don’t own a lot of clothes so I can see everything at a glance and folding is a quick task. This closet system does come with an extra shelf to be placed in the closet system, but I wanted to try out a few different design options. Currently, the closet system does not have a shelf in the location of the pull out pant rack, so I simply used my large cutting mat as a substitute. I’ve had this cutting mat for years because of my degree and I still use it. Granted, I can’t place heavy items on this generic shelf, but I also don’t need to.

When I was playing around with this design, I had used two pillowcases, attached with safety pins and I stretched the pillow cases over the pant rack. I didn’t stretch it to the point where I would start bending the pant rack arms,  but enough where the pillowcases fit just right. That method actually worked pretty well. If you want to test out the pillowcase method, it will take some trial and error. It really depends on how tight you want the pillowcases to fit over those bars. These two methods worked for me because I don’t own a lot of clothes and for the ones I needed a flat surface to place them on, it wasn’t a heavy  amount, so the pant rack wasn’t damaged.

DSC_3870

DSC_3873DSC_3872

My Emergency Kit

04.04.2016

0845

I have a small emergency kit and most of it is pictured here. In any emergency, it’s always a good idea to keep certain items on hand and ready at a moment’s notice.

DSC_4732

In my small electronics bag: (green flowered bag)

  • Small battery operated radio and clock
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Extra AAA batteries
  • Flashlight/hand crank radio accessories

In my first aid kit:

  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • Styptic pencil
  • Mercury- Free Oral Thermometer
  • Compact scissors
  • Bandage

Items that are not pictured are:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

I also have a flashlight/hand crank radio, butane lighter with butane gas refill and candles. I use bandanas as dust masks to help filter contaminated air.

This is just a simple overview of what I have in my emergency kit for living in the city that I live in. Understandably, the most common natural disaster in my area are earthquakes, so preparing for all natural disasters wouldn’t make any sense. Depending on each family’s’ dynamic, this kit is essentially  for only one person. There are a lot of websites out on the internet that suggest to have a large emergency kit at all times, but ironically, my kit is based on FEMA’s outline. (you can find it HERE). All of the items listed may not apply to you but the list is a comprehensive one. Due to the fact that I’ve experienced a few earthquakes in my life, these items are exactly what I need in case of an emergency. It’s a slim and small kit, but it has been working for me. This post was to simply give an overview of what I keep in my kit.

DSC_3708

DSC_3707

DSC_3710

Seven Tips To Begin A Zero Waste Life

03.14.2016

0800

2016-03-02 15.52.102016-03-02 15.51.45

When I first began this journey to live a zero waste lifestyle, although there always seemed to be a list of tasks that I would end up doing; I wish there was a list of things I needed to do in sequential order. There was a lot of backtracking as well as re-organizing when it came down to the sequence in which I should have gone about starting this journey. Because this journey also is adjusted to each person’s lifestyle, my system was not refined for a couple of months. I still wished someone could have informed me about what to do first verses my assumption that the first task was to get rid of all products packaged in plastic.

  1. Begin by making bags from old bed sheets and extra rope/shoelace.
    1. These bags can be different sizes. I made mine into 2 different sizes. Take those bags and weigh them at a store so you can record the tare weight onto each bag. If you narrow down your bags sizes, it’s easier to input the tare the weight and when you shop and you won’t be fluctuating between a variety of numbers. It will be easier on you and the cashier as well.
    2. These bags will also become useful once you start cleaning out your life. Since you’ll most likely be donating or eliminating items from your life, the areas that you’re cleaning out will most likely need something to separate your items in. And these bags will also help in the beginning of your journey into bulk shopping (which takes care of that pesky task of eating to survive).
  2. Sort out your products that are contained in plastic or wasteful packaging.
    1. It’s easier to separate products by room and by use, so go slowly. Then go through and reduce the amount of products.
    2. If you can’t eliminate a product completely, you know that the next tasks is to find an alternative; that alternative also needs to be a zero waste alternative. Unfortunately, that’s also one of the tricky tasks during this journey. Some people may need certain products due to medical reasons or health conditions, so these products take a little bit more time to eliminate and more research as well. Make sure you choose the best solution for yourself.
  3. Invest in jars. I invested in Bormioli Rocco Fido jars as well as Mason jars.
    1. These jars will help you organize your items that need a more sturdy container as well as assist you on your journey in bulk shopping. Food packaging is one of the most wasteful habits we have adapted to, so by investing in these jars, you’re already preparing yourself to take care of the easiest problem.
    2. Also, when you start bringing these jars to the grocery store, make sure you ask the cashier to tare the weight before you fill it. For the Mason jars, I actually carve the tare weight into the lid and for the Bormioli Rocco Fido jars, I write the tare weight on the gasket rim so that the cashier can see the tare weight through the lid.
  4. Go to the local bulk grocery stores near you and find what’s available in their bulk section.
    1. Check out what they sell in their bath and body bulk section as well as the bulk food area. By doing this, you can create a list of ingredients and products that you know are available to you.
  5. Reduce and donate
    1. Although the idea of “tossing out everything” sounds simple, it really isn’t. It takes time and effort. To go from owning a lot of items that you have accumulated in your lifetime, to owning three items is not easy. It takes a lot of evaluation and re-evaluating your routines and habits to adjust to the limited amount of items you now own. The easiest way I knew how to attack this task was to simply ask “Do I need it or do I want it? If I need it, what’s an alternative to it that would not produce waste?”
    2. In time, you’ll notice that perhaps items that you thought you wouldn’t be able to let go of, you can. This process of eliminating and reducing the amount of items in your life changes the way you approach possessions as well as products. It will take time, so be patient with yourself- but always strive to be completely zero waste.
  6. Start a compost.
    1. With all of the bulk items you’re going to buy, I very much suggest starting a compost. If you don’t have enough land to start a compost, look into city programs that may offer something similar. You can even search for local businesses that might be willing to take your compost or buy it.
  7. Opt out of junk mail and use the mail pieces that do get through as scratch paper.
    1. This is an easy task. I used Catalog Choice and Direct Marketing Association Choice which offer a mail preference service for consumers. Granted, the list of magazines and newsletters I have opted out of on both of my accounts are not short. I had to input quite a bit of organizations and businesses, but it’s well worth it in the end.

2016-03-02 15.56.362016-03-02 15.41.30I hope this list helps those of you who are starting out on your own zero waste life journey. I know it wasn’t a simple and short type of list, where I only listed tasks to do in a bullet point format. I wanted to explain why I chose these seven items to anchor the beginning of the journey for zero waste newbies. Good luck to all and if you have any questions, please email me, my email is in my about section of this website. Also if you want to see what items I have purchased, please check out my store link.

Ottoman Attachments

03.09.2016

0700

DSC_3690

Materials:

  • Cloth bags
  • Short screws that will hold the bags in place

Tools:

  • Screwdriver

With no coffee table as a furniture piece, means that I have to manipulate the uses of my ottomans. Coffee tables do provide a flat and even surface to place our items on but storage is also necessary. I personally need a place to keep my remote control and reading material. Sometimes that  storage is also where I keep a small pile of papers for sketching when I’m watching TV or my cell phone when I want it off of the couch when I’m sitting on the couch.

Since my ottomans have storage space under their lids, I decided to solve my  problem by attaching a few canvas bags. These bags are old bags that I’ve had for awhile and I thought they would work great here. I picked my canvas bags due to the strength of canvas itself and the colors are neutral enough that they won’t stand out too much from the ottoman color. I attached the smaller bag with a safety pin and the larger bag with two screws. If you’re going to try this method of attaching bags to an ottoman, I suggest you put a sample weight in the bag as you measure the height that it should hang above the floor. All bags are designed and sewn with different stitches and will fill out in different capacities. Some bags are designed to fill out more on the bottom half of the design and some will not. By placing a sample weight in the bags (ie. remote controls, some papers, a magazine), you will be able to see how the bag will sit against the ottoman with the tension relying on the screws or safety pin(s). If you decide to have a bag for magazines or papers, make sure that there is enough room on both sides of the object so that you can slide it in and out of the pocket with ease. This may take some adjustments when you’re trying to place the location of where the bag is going to sit above the floor.

This system works very well and I can store my remote control, my phone when it’s not being used and even reading material that I’m waiting to read. I’ve used these attachments for years and I actually have another ottoman which also has two bags attached to it with the same method. These bags are also great when you need to store an object(s) that you need access to quickly, such as kids toys. I hope this post was useful for those of you who may use it. Depending on the needs of you and your family, you should pick your canvas bags accordingly, by testing out different sized bags.

DSC_3687DSC_3688

DIY Reusable Cloth Produce Bags

03.07.2016

0800

DSC_3987

Materials:

  • Bedding flat and fitted sheets
  • Bedding pillowcases
  • Shoelace/rope to use as drawstrings for the bags

Tools:

  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing kit

I use old bed sheets and old pillowcases to make produce bags with drawstrings to close the top openings. For this project, I used four pillowcases and two bed sheets. The weight of each piece of sheet varies in thickness, so I know that the tare weight will differ. This project does take a little bit of time, but the payout is immensely satisfying.

To size them up, I first divided a pillow case into quarters and I use extra shoelaces to make the drawstrings. I like to have at least two different sized bags so that I can use one size for my staple bulk shopping and the others to be used for standard bulk shopping. The pillowcase that will be divided into quarters would be the smaller size and I would half another pillowcase to be the larger bag template. I only need four large bags so the rest will be the standard bulk bag size.

The easiest and quickest way to finish this project in a short amount of time is to first measure out the size of each fabric piece, but measure out the pieces so that the fold of the fabric will be on the left or right side of the rectangular template. The reason why I recommend this is that when you sew, you can make one continuous stitch line without ending. If you create the fold of the fabric on the bottom, you have to sew both sides with separate stitch lines. Understandably, if you end up with very linear fabric pieces once you measure out your sheets, having two stitch lines will be inevitable. Keep in mind, the top is left alone for the drawstring pocket.

I usually measure the pocket for the drawstring at 1/2″ width and I pin it in place using ball head straight pins. I then sew the pocket for the drawstring and leave the ends open for the drawstring to be fed through. Then for each fabric piece, I fold the opening edge and bottom edge in about 1/2″ and pin it with a few ball head straight pins. You can also fold this hem over once more to secure the hem as well. Once all of the bags are sewn, I tie off all of the thread ends so that the ends don’t dangle and get caught up in the washing machine. Then I take each bag and feed the drawstrings through each pocket using a small safety pin. Once the drawstrings are fed through their pockets, I tie off the ends so that the drawstring won’t slip out.

Because I measured out my fabric into two basic sizes, I take one bag of each fabric type and size and bring it to the grocery store to record the tare weight. My tare weight for my standard bulk bag is 0.07 lbs and for the larger bag it’s 0.12 lbs. I usually write my tare weight towards the top of the bags due to the fact that cashiers tend to look for twist ties there. However, don’t write the tare weight too close to the very top of the bag, being that once you close the bag opening with the drawstring, the writing gets somewhat lost in the folds of the bag.  I usually write the tare weight about 3″ from the top of my bags. I use LYRA Aqua Color Water-Soluble Wax Crayons to write on my bags and I bring them with me to record the PLU codes (Price Look Up codes) right on the bags.

From the four pillowcases and two bed sheets I used in this project, I made 57 bags. I also made two tiny little bags from the leftover fabric pieces, because I really didn’t want to add it to my trash bin. I hope this post helps for those who are looking to make your own produce bags. This was a two day project and although I was exhausted after finishing it, I was beyond ecstatic when these bags were put to use. These bags are used everywhere around my house from using them for lunch bags, to containing my cat’s toys and even using them in the kitchen to keep items organized. So utilize that sewing machine and I hope you enjoy your new DIY bags as much as I do.

DSC_4006

DSC_3994

DSC_3995

DSC_4015

Taking Notes On Reflective Surfaces

03.02.2016

0830

DSC_3692For notes I need to look at on a daily basis, I tend to write them on my mirrors, that way I can see the notes during my morning routine. Dry erase markers are easy to use on any reflective surface and they’re effective. I do utilize my calendar in my phone as well when it comes to notes but there’s something calming about not turning your phone on right when you wake up each morning.

I do take notes in my car using dry erase markers as well. I don’t write and drive by any means, but when a design solution is strong enough to provoke  me- I’ll jot it on my window or mirror. It’s just another way of me not turning to my phone for support. There are dry erase markers that are designed to be refilled like these AusPen 6 Assorted Refillable Whiteboard Markers – Chisel NIB but mine are just dry erase markers from EXPO, which are not refillable.

When I first encountered the issue that these markers would end up in the landfill, I then invested in a Quirky Scratch-n-Scroll Mousepad with Erasable Writing Surface. I used to own the larger and classic version of this  Cra Z Art Travel Magna Doodle, but over time, the writing utensil seemed to not pick up the small magnets under the writing surface. For those who have tablets and can download sketching apps (I do have an iPad), taking notes on tablets can also be another alternative. Inevitably, I think that when my EXPO dry erase markers dry out, I might have to invest in these Schylling Magic Slate Drawing Pads Party Pack Bundle – 3 Pack pads. Time will tell and depending on how you relate to your writing, there are many alternatives out there to use and create less waste to go to the landfill.

DSC_3666DSC_3667DSC_3673

Always Consider Gravity

02.10.2016

0830

When I create a solution for any situation in my life, I always, always consider gravity first. Being that I also live in the Bay Area, items tend to fall when earthquakes occur. My solution to this issue is hanging everything. I keep extra shoelaces, metal rings, and carabiners around for this very reason.

I also like to keep my floor clear because when I run around with my microfiber dust mop, I don’t like to move things. In other words, items wont be on the floor to get in my way. This rule applies for any surface area in my home as well. I’m simply not a big fan of dusting. I will dust, but it has to be a once over type of effort, for me to move items, then dust, and then place items back feels like a waste of time and effort. Multiply that task for each week of the year, and the wasted time will add up.

dsc_3555DSC_3588DSC_3594

I hang many items around, but these are a few of the examples. I hang my mirror on my door along with a pencil bag that holds my dry erase pens to write on the mirror with. I actually draw a calendar on my mirror for the fact that I know I wont miss it when I check myself in the mirror. (It also helps because I don’t like to buy paper calendars.) I use a laptop and I hate the sound of my transformer box dragging across my hard wood floor, so I made a denim pocket out of an old pair of jeans to hang it up. I also cut a hole on the other side of the pocket for the other cord to poke out of. My drafting table ruler is also hanging next to it since I now use my drafting table as my desk and it was getting in the way. I have a 3-tier basket which I place items that would normally find their way onto the surface of the kitchenette counter, and I even have other items hanging from that was well.

DSC_3595dsc_3598

dsc_3556

Using shoelaces, I hang my memory board up to cover the window on my door. There was a small gap when I hung it up, so I used a fabric napkin to simply cover the opening. I’ve always hung up my kitchen timer as well. I used a magnet clip and simply took a hook screw and attached it to the top, and not screwing it too far in as to hit the bell on the inside. My bookshelf is also right next to my desk (this desk has no drawers) so I hang up my pencil holder as well.

These are just a few items that I hang up. Hanging up items is an easier way to maintain my space and I know that if an earthquake was to ever occur, these items wont fall. On top of that- dusting is a breeze.