Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sustainability in our Home and Business

April is designated at Earth Month and April 22 as Earth Day. Within our business and our personal home, we make many efforts to reuse and recycle items to be more sustainable. I recently listened to an Etsy Success Podcast about sustainability factors and how customers like environmental friendly shops and it made me think about things that we personally do to recycle and conserve resources.
Gypsy Farm Girl
For the love of junk. Reuse, Repurpose, Rescue... One of my favorite sayings and t-shirts from Suzy Swede.  

Things we do to reduce our environmental footprint:

  • We work from home eliminating the need to commute daily.
  • We coordinate our trips to get supplies, groceries, appointments, post office, etc. We never drive to town just to eat out. (In fact, we cook almost all our meals at home.)
  • When leaving home, we always carry on own drinks. Personally, I've used the same stainless steel tumbler for two years! I'm lost without it. Occasionally, I do stop and get a drink if my travels take me out longer than expected and my cup runs dry. If we know we will be gone a while, we will both fill a thermos with additional water, tea, or coffee. 
decorative sleeves for stainless steel cups
Decorative tumbler wraps available in my shop
  • We often carry a "grub bag," as Jeff calls it, when leaving home. Of course its a recycled container with an assortment of fruit, nuts, pretzels, etc instead of stopping at the store for a bag of chips or candy bar.
  • We recycle barn tin for signs and my photo booth and many other projects. Most of the tin has been rescued and salvaged from my Granddaddy's old hay barn.
recycled barn tin

  • We used only reclaimed items for flower containers in our yard. (see this post, including a video, demonstrating  how-to plant in rusty bottomless buckets.)
  • Our gazebo was rescued from a trash ditch and all of the containers and chairs are second hand. Yes, really! The only thing store bought are the lights, hummingbird feeder, and some of the plants.  (Spring 2018 garden tour coming soon!)
rustic, reclaimed gazebo

  • Almost all of the furniture in our house in second hand. (Only the kitchen table was purchased new and I regret doing that.)
  • My camper is a 1959 model and almost everything in it is second hand. The exception being the 3/4 mattress, sheets, and a string of lights. 

  • We search the thrift stores and estate / garage sales for vintage lace, clothing, and anything we can repurpose. Some of the lace in the wedding bouquets is vintage or second hand. 
jade / light aqua / turquoise wedding flowers
  • We upcycle and repurpose clothing. Some of my favorite outfits cost less than $5 and they are usually the ones that get the most compliments! 
(The Vintage Queen Collection is coming soon and will feature vintage lace and upcycled clothing, among other things. The fabric for the mocha satin roses in the bridal bouquet was cut from a bridesmaid dress. Also, vintage jewelry / brooches are included in the arrangement.)

rustic wedding

Did you know:

According to the EPA, American discard approximately 13.1 million tons of textiles a year and only about 15 percent of that is reclaimed for recycling. This means that more than 11 million tons of textiles are dumped into landfills across the country each year. 

Keeping textiles out of landfills would save more than $375 million per year in fees alone. ($44/ ton to dispose of waste.)

We do our part to help eliminate part of the textile waste!  

upcycled clothing
Have I mentioned I love rust? (Currently in our Uniques and Antiques booth.)
  • If possible, we recycle packing materials such as the air bubbles, paper, peanuts, and bubble wrap. If the packaging is clean and in good shape in boxes we get in, we reuse the packing on orders going out. Several family members will also save their air packs for us. If I come across a box of vintage patterns, I'll use the tissue patterns for wrapping wedding bouquets and pillows, instead of new tissue paper. You would be surprised how many old patterns have never been cut and you can find extra large pieces of tissue in them. 
  • Most days, my mail carrier picks up my packages at home, saving me a trip to town and about 25 miles round trip. So thankful for my rural mail carrier and honestly sad she will be retiring this summer! 
  • Many times, we use recycled glass vases or other containers for flower arrangements. (I will not sacrifice quality - they must be in good, clean condition or I won't use it.)
  • Cans, scrap metal, and batteries are saved to take to a salvage yard.
  • We monitor our electricity usage. Jeff is great about watching the sun and opening or closing blinds and doors at certain times of the day to either let the sun in on cold days or keep it out on the hot days. We try to run the clothes dryer at times when the house needs heating up (late night / early morning and avoid the middle of the day in the summer time.) I can honestly say our electric bill has gone down in the last few years, while many complain about higher bills. 
  • We hand wash all our dishes. Its much quicker and doesn't use as much water as the dishwasher.
  • We have 6 reusable grocery sacks. On top of saving plastic bags, they make it so much easier to tote groceries in the house.  Seriously, no slinking grocery sacks spilling out in the back seat or the pickle jar falling through the flimsy sack and busting on the ground. We usually grocery shop once a week and hit the farm supply store and check on all the farm animals on the same trip. 
  • When I do get plastic sacks from stores, I save them up and take them to our favorite thrift store, so they can be reused or line garbage cans at home. 
  • I've used newspaper underneath mulch, instead of black plastic in flower beds. 
  • Food containers are often reused as paint trays. Just because it says cottage cheese or yogurt on the outside, many times it paint or stain on the inside! 
  • We prefer glass jars to plastic for food storage.
  • We have a small toaster oven - the best $1 ever spent at a garage sale! Cooking for two, it is perfect for us and many times we avoid turning on the "big oven". Our microwave went out 2 1/2 years ago and we've yet to replace or miss it and we honestly feel healthier without it! 
While I know there are still things we can improve upon, I feel like we do pretty well. We do discuss adding solar panels on future improvements. Jeff and I are constantly asking each other "what can we do with this?"

What are some of the sustainable things you do in your home or business?  

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