When I noticed this week’s challenge at Reduce Footprints, I knew I would have to find the time to post and share my story. Many of you have been here long enough to know how I furnished my apartment but I thought a recap would be helpful for the new readers.
As you can see this week’s challenge is about taking a closer look at our homes. It’s not enough, in my opinion, to only switch to green cleaners we also need to think about what we are sitting on, eating off of and what the cost was to make and transport those items to our local stores.
I have the first part of the challenge down.
A while back, year and a half ago? I invested in a combination of CFL and LED bulbs and switched out every bulb in my apartment. This past weekend, while on my trip I found LED bulbs for $4.99 at Ikea. At that price it was low enough to switch out the remaining CFLs in my home. The bulbs I removed I passed on to my son who has been replacing his bulbs. Should one break (hopefully not) he will have a couple of back up bulbs to replace them with.
part two: Home furnishings
This one is harder, one I am still striving to meet. There are things I can’t change about my home as I rent such as the carpeting, or the types of windows used in the building, there are many more areas that are under my control.
Where I have fallen short include the following:
- Purchased a new futon for guests. This has foam padding and will be one project down the road I will reupholster to make greener.
- While I have eliminated most plastic there are a few items I have not been able to find a substitute for. These include my sewing machine and my vacuum.
It’s hard for me to spend money to replace items that are still functional for an item that was made more sustainably. I keep things forever, such as my vacuum which was a gift to me ten years ago. The handle being plastic broke recently, but being either thrifty or a tightwad, which ever label fits is fine by me :-) I glued it together.
Where I have done better:
- My mattress, while new, was made before the recent changes which included more chemicals being required for sale.
- My nightstand was a desk which was going to be tossed in the dumpster, I had it cut down and repurposed it.
- My bookcase/storage was a microwave cart the maintenance man for my building found for me, again set out for trash. Two wheels were broken, I simply removed the remaining two. Those two wheels are sitting here waiting for a project I promised my grandson we would make for him.
- My loveseat was another trashed item. It currently has foam cushions but those will be replaced now that I have found wool materials to replace them with.
- My lamps are all used. One came from a thrift shop, one from my son’s basement, and the other was found in the dumpster.
- To see more of my found items including a chair, basket, my loveseat, and more see this post.
- I thought shutters would look nice on either side of my window and found two the exact length of my window sitting out for trash.
- My bed frame, which is nearly finished and I will show to you soon, was tossed out when the students left last summer. It is an antique wooden frame, a lucky find.
- I have two small tables for guests, both were found in the trash. One is metal the other wood.
- I have an antique upholstered chair I saved from being tossed in the dumpster as well.
Other items in my home include:
- A small set of shelves saved from the trash that fit under my counter for kitchen storage.
- a coat rack left behind in my son’s home.
- A coat rack for the children I made from a piece of wood found in the trash and glued twigs on for hooks.
- My blender and many small kitchen items previously belonged to my grandmother
- A metal pot to heat water for tea was $1 at a yard sale.
- My dishes are a combination of handmade by a local potter, and flea market pieces. By adding the flea market pieces I have enough for holidays when I have guests and can loan them out to family to avoid the use of disposable plates.
These older appliances were all made in the USA rather than abroad which feels better than wondering who made my appliances and if they had decent working conditions.
- I made curtains from an unbleached drop cloth
- my door drafter was made with a discarded pair of jeans and an old towel.
- my freezer was used and is holding up well. I was able to live solely from my freezer and pantry items from November to present. As I remove food I fill the empty space with bottles I’ve collected filled with water to save on energy costs.
- My artwork is mostly handmade and framed in cheap thrift shop frames I’ve painted the same color to tie them in.
part three: buying new
- This past weekend I purchased the first new piece of bedding in more than 10 years. It wasn’t made locally but it is sustainable. I found a down and feather comforter for my bed that will get plenty of use.
- The LED bulbs I purchased were made in Mexico, a bit closer than China but I still wish I could have found ones made in US.
- As I mentioned above my dishes were made by a local potter. I purchased his seconds, which are simply ones that ended up with flaws during the firing process. This reduced the price by half and by purchasing only a piece at a time and only enough to serve four I was able to keep the costs low. Each bowl cost me $5 each plate $7. A bit pricey but I like the designs and I am supporting a local business who also supports other artists in their store.
When I took a look at how easily I was able to furnish my home with found items I realized I could save even more money by discontinuing my renters insurance. Two years worth of insurance was enough money to completely furnish a new home. Why should I give my money to an insurance company instead? I do have a few pieces of pressed board shelves but have avoided all lacquered items so I’m good there. For a sealer I use a water based polycrylic.
Thanks Small Footprints for a wonderful challenge!