Archives for posts with tag: Recycling

I must be part monkey.  Or perhaps I am still in touch with my inner child, or maybe I am in touch with my inner monkey child.  Just like a kid, when I need to get something done, I turn it into a game.

My latest way to motivate myself is inspired by life coach Gail Blanke.  She has written a book called, “Throw Out Fifty Things.”  Well, I have been throwing out, giving away or recycling 50 things a day for the last few days.  And I have to say, since it is a game, it is very easy to do.  I am not as attached to things, I am able to let go.  My rules are that it does not matter what it is, as long as I get rid of 50 things, I am still in the game.

It started with the bathroom.  Old, never-going-to-use-again products, hair clips that seem to never make sense for me, samples for products that – when I read the ingredient list – makes me cringe…etc.  Done!

Next… kitchen… a couple old corks (compost), and old elastics; all-that-is-left-is-the-wire twist ties and old preserves past their prime that I have not touched for over a year.  Ding!

After that, the office: some receipts, notes, papers; all is shredded and recycled.

And after that, the front entry: some old, I-am-sure-I-will-never-use-this glasses cases, a pair of sunglasses, some bags… not to 50 yet. Ummm, what’s in the closet?  Some clothes I never seem to use…. AND, done!

I am not playing by Gail’s rules.  She has a really cool game going on and I like her motivational talks!  Truly!  For my rules, I count a thing as a thing. She counts a magazine collection as a thing.  I like to count every magazine.  I don’t care if it is a broken elastic, a lost little reject staple or an old never used and disgusting electric toothbrush or a perfectly good vase that I can subtract from my seemingly redundant collection of vases that I rarely use.  My goal is to assign 20 minutes a day to finding 50 things to give away, recycle or throw away. I will do this until I am feeling free and relaxed in my space.

Some people go their whole lives collecting beyond their means. I know this without ever having watched “Hoarders.”  Life has afforded me this observation in real-time.

What got me started on this?  I visited my friend’s place a couple weeks ago and I noticed that they had done a complete overhaul.  They had done this because they were leaving to travel for a couple months.  They wanted their place all neat and tidy for whoever was going to apartment sit for them.  They have been back for a year and the place still looks amazing.  As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to do something.  I needed to create a game that helped me get the job done, hahaha.

Another thing that motivated me was hearing a story of a family that had a proper livingroom for hosting guests, but beyond this, the place was a mess.  The family had this symbolic mess as well as an actual, serious mess beyond the view of guests.  Hearing this made me wonder about what the stuff we hold onto really symbolizes.

Yeah, if I keep going with this, I could end up like a person who only owns 50 things.  That notion seems surprisingly liberating… but I also have to laugh because many of the things this guy owns are major brand things.  Not attached, but still very “plugged-in.”  Cute.

So, I picked 50.  Perhaps you are ahead of the game and in so many ways, including a very catchy tune, 12 would be more suitable for you.  If you want to feel a little lighter, try throwing out (recycling or giving away) a few things.  And don’t turn it into a task, make it a game.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.

scarf with rescued materials in it

Go to any craft fair, fashion expo, or design show these days and you will undoubtedly find upcycled clothing. Old garments, say for example a beautiful coat or sweater that developed wear and tear over the years, could be combined with another garment to be new, fresh, and exciting.

In Montreal, there is a hip shop in the St Henri neighbourhood that caters to this idea. La Gaillarde features finished clothing by Montreal designers, as well as sewing/alteration classes in their sewing room. They also sell fabric remnants and used garments that are ready to be worn as-is, or upcycled into something more enticing.

At the Biodome in Montreal, every winter there is a craft fair that features crafts and clothing and all sorts of exciting things made out of over 75% post-consumer waste. Many of the offerings I saw last year were of better quality, more stylish, and clearly more functional than their brand new counterparts.

This article in the Guardian newspaper outlines some of the challenges that manufacturers and retail stores face in regards to textile waste. The manufacturers must be more responsible, and we as the purchasers of garments must be more accountable for what we do with them as we finish. It does take an effort. As the article says;

“…the various fibres that comprise clothing make reprocessing and recycling a challenge. Some materials such as cotton and linen can be composted, but petroleum-based fibres such as polyester have little chance for reuse. Few municipalities accept textiles into their recycling programmes… the result is a resource that is not as easily recyclable as aluminum cans, glass, or even plastic.”

scarf with unrecyclables

The ability to truly recycle textiles is rare. We will donate unwanted (but still wearable) clothing to charity, but what do we do when there are too many holes or stains? We usually throw them into the landfill… Though I am not anywhere near perfect in this regard, I have tried to save fabrics from this fate.

I make felt wool scarves, and have been incorporating bits of used fabrics into them. Also I like to take unrecyclable (yet durable) materials, such as plastic/foil catfood bags, and use them within the scarves, too. This is more fun than anything, but I hope that my efforts have diverted yet more toxic landfill from accumulating!

Check out some of the DIY ideas we posted over the last while on Fleurbain… you can use old garments for these things, too!


*Braided Rug

*Mittens, Cushions…

*Scented Sachets

And have some fun while you’re at it!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Green Christmas tip of the day: Take something boring and add BUTTONS! I love buttons. I remember spending hours playing with mason jars full of buttons at my Gramma’s (She was a seamstress) They are fun for making jewelry, adding cute details to clothes, mitts, backpacks, and for making easy tree decorations… to name a few. All of these would make a lovely Christmas gift. (And if you have someone on your list like me, just wrap up a bundle of buttons!)
Thanks to Brooke McCartney-Langdon for a brilliant variety of photos illustrating her Green Christmas Tip!

button snowman

too cute!

button wreaths

fashion bracelet

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