The Best Plastic Free Storage Containers

Glass JarsAs we all know plastic is bad for you, the chemicals in plastic are bad for your health and the fact that plastic does not breakdown makes it bad for the planet (more on why plastic is bad here).

The safest way to store your food is in glass containers. We all know about mason jars and all the different sizes you can buy but you also have a tons of glass containers come through your kitchen every year. The pickle jars, pasta sauce and salsa containers are all great glass jars to store your food in.

So instead of tossing those glass jars into the recycling bin here is the easiest way to remove the labels  (all you need is a good piece of steel wool).

Step 1: Take your jars and put them in your sink or a pot with warm/hot water in it. Let the jars soak. [Read more…]

Some More Great Things On Etsy To Help You Go Green

Glass Cup with strawToday is the last day to enter my Earth Day giveaway Get Green To Go Green $25 Etsy giftcard. There are so many amazing things to buy on Etsy. Here are another five fun things you can purchase if you win the gift card.

ECO Friendly Glass Cup with Glass Straw by the Glass Cup Shop.  I love this cup it is perfect for the summer days where you want to head outside with you cup of lemon water and play in the yard.
[Read more…]

Etsy Spotlight: All Things Reconsidered

I came upon All Things Reconsidered when I was browsing Etsy and I loved that everything in the store was up-cycled. I fell in love with the wine bags made from up-cycled shirt sleeves! You can even complete the gift with one of her up-cycled wine stoppers made out of old faucet valves. The other great thing I have never seen in anyone elses shop is her gift bags made out of newspapers. You are going to love my interview with Kalya, be sure to read all the way to end and see what her fun fact is!!

When did you start your Etsy shop?

I started my Etsy shop in the summer of 2011, but I didn’t open it until October. I took my time; I wanted to do it right!

Is your Etsy shop to support your hobby or is it your job?

This is my hobby—I wish I didn’t just moonlight as a crafter, but it definitely helps support my other hobby of travel. So, I live as an English teacher by day, crafter by night.

Why did you decide to make eco-friendly item?

I realized on day at Michael’s that crafting is expensive, and it wasn’t getting any cheaper. This happened to be the same day that I had done a little recycling at the local landfill. I was amazed at the number of items that were deemed “garbage” when they could have served another purpose, purposes that would fill my crafting needs. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was accepting “garbage” from everyone, in the name of crafts.

How do you find your up-cycled materials?

I mostly go to thrift stores, like the local Goodwill and Salvation Army. I have also had some luck at garage sales and donations of items that people make to me, but I depend heavy on the charity of others to these thrift stores.

What is your favorite part of crafting and upcycling?

My favorite part of crafting and upcycling is that its an art that requires logic. I can’t draw; I can’t paint. I can, however, take to unrelated items and make them work together, just like fellow Minnesotan Richard Dean Anderson. I am Martha MacGyver.

What is your favorite part of Pinterest?

I am addicted to Pinterest—and I love it because I no longer have to keep track of every website to remember a good idea!

What kind of eco-friendly things do you do in your everyday life?

My favorite is using only homemade cleaning supplies. From soaps to window cleaners, it so nice to know that I am not adding to the environment’s issues; I am using what it has given me to clean it up!

What do you find the hardest thing is to do to help the environment?

Being consistent is the hardest thing to do in helping the environment. People are busy these days, and when we have the best intentions, we may not have the time. So many people I talked to about this say “I would recycled, if I had the time” or something of the like. I always try to encourage people to do what they can do—even if that is just a reusable coffee cup.

One fun fact about you: For the archers out there—I can fletch 5-dozen bare arrow shafts in 53 minutes!

SHOP All Things Reconsidered on Etsy

You can read All Things Considered blog here

FOLLOW on twitter: @shopallthingsmn


Etsy Spotlight: License to Craft

This week’s Etsy Spotlight is License to Craft. Gerrard and Rebecca use license plates to make fun items for your house. My personal favorite is the mailbox. See how they find the license plates and how they make their creative creations.

When did you start your Etsy shop? We started our Etsy shop in August.

Is your Etsy shop to support your hobby or is it your job? The shop is to support my hobby. I am a full time firefighter and Rebecca is a fulltime student when we’re not crafting and creating.

Did you always sell what you sell now? If not what else did you sell? We started out selling a few select license plate items and through custom request orders for different things, we have expanded our listings. We have recently started selling lamps that are made from vintage beer cans and recycled pull tabs for the shades.

Why did you decide to make eco-friendly item? We kind of happened accross our first item that got us started with selling. We had moved to Virginia from Wisconsin and had our old license plates and I wanted to find something creative that I could do with them. We had been looking for a wall mounted mailbox for our house and I thought that the simple design of a box would be easily constructed out of the plates. The box turned out great and I posted pictures on Facebook. The response we got from friends and family was extremely positive so we thought maybe there could be a market for this and we thought etsy was the place for it because the site is geared toward handmade items.

How do you find your up-cycled materials? We find our up-cycled materials in thrift stores, garage sales, Craigslist, Ebay, and even the dumpster. We found a local buisness that throws their cardboard and packaging materials in the trash so we rescue them and use them along with our own recycled newspapers to package the items we sell. We have also found some other things in the trash that have made it into our creations.

What is your favorite part of crafting and upcycling? My favorite thing about upcycling is being able to create something entirely new out of something that it was never intended for. Crafting is an outlet for me that lets me be creative and think up new things. It also is something that my fiance and I can do together. She handles things like social media, packaging, researching and aquiring materials, and some of the more artisic aspects of our crafts that I am not good at. I think I have it easier, I just make the stuff.

What kind of eco-friendly things do you do in your everyday life? We are avid recyclers, our recycle bin gets full well before the trash can. We also reuse items when we can and if we don’t really need something, we don’t get it. We like to get out and appreciate nature, like going for hikes. I think that people get so caught up in their lives and their urban environment that they forget to get out and take a walk in the woods and really remember what it is we need to protect.

What do you find the hardest thing is to do to help the environment? I think the hardest thing to do is to change the lifestyle of consumerism that we have lived for decades. The attitude of wanting more has caused companies to do whatever it takes to bring things to market as cheap as possible, no matter the impact on the environment. Most products that are eco friendly cost more, and in this economy there are so many people that struggle to get by on what they have, that the environment takes the back seat.

What do you think is biggest problem for the planet/people? I think the biggest problem for people is that we are not fully supporting clean renuable energy resources. We as a society need to say that it is not acceptable to continue burning fossil fuels at the rate that we are and that we need to focus a great deal of energy on exploring cost effective efficient ways of producing clean energy. I hope there will become a day where people will find it funny that we paid so much money for fuel when there was all the free energy we needed all around us.

One fun fact about you: I have a tattoo of an animated bratwurst wearing Converse shoes and giving the rock on sign. A tribute to Wisconsin, my home state.


Etsy Spotlight: RipTie Knits


Today I am introducing a new weekly feature here, Etsy Spotlight, which will showcase and interview one Etsy shop and designer each week. Every shop I feature will have elements of eco-friendly crafting including up-cycling and other creative re-use techniques. Sometimes there will even be a giveaway or coupon depending on the shops owners preference. So please be sure to come by and check out each pick. 

This weeks pick is RipTie Knits, she cleverly makes knitting skeins out of up-cycled t-shirts. I also love her pillows made out of old t-shirts as well. Please head over to her shop to check out more of her great things. 

When did you start your Etsy shop?
I started my Etsy shop in October 2010. I discovered Etsy and was really excited to find something that would be fun to do to make some extra money to fund other hobbies. I was in the middle of a closet overhaul when I was inspired by a pile of unloved clothes all tumbled together. It reminded me of a time I’d gone window shopping with a friend, and we stumbled upon a yarn shop with all sorts of funky, fun yarns, one of which was a skein made of strips of recycled saris sewn end to end. I remembered from slicing up t-shirts for other projects how much stretch they had, and decided to whip out my scissors and go ninja on a few to see what I could come up with… and I came up with RipTie :)

Explain how people would use your RipTies to make something?
RipTie is a really easy “yarn” to knit with, especially for knitters/crocheters who are just getting started. The blends and little knots are great at hiding not-so-perfect stitches, and you don’t have to do anything more to switch between skeins than cut, tie on another end and continue working. It’s fun to mix and match colors and blends. Since I generally use cotton shirts for my blends, the finished projects are soft and have a nice stretch/give to them, which also makes it easy to work on the needles/hook. Specialty blends (denim blends, or blends with bits of bling) are a little trickier, but make up some of the more interesting projects… denim knit scarves have lots of little stringy bits that really add to the character, and speciality blends generally have pops of sequins, rhinestones or metal grommets which add some bling.

Is your Etsy shop to support your hobby or is it your job?
Well, my shop started out as kind of an experiment, to see how many pieces of clothing I could save from the landfill… then I liked it so much, I started sourcing unloved clothing from multiple sources and cutting it up for backstock, so when inspiration struck, I’d have piles of colors to choose from to make new blends. The shop is more of a hobby supporter than a job… because my day jobs generally keep me pretty busy.

Did you always sell what you sell now? If not what else did you sell?
The shop started with RipTie blends… then I added doing custom blends (special requests) and making projects made of RipTie to sell. Then I started branching into other eco-friendly ideas, like homegrown lavender products, repurposed abalone and seashell fragment jewelry, Tillows (t-shirt pillows), WristTwists (RipTie bracelets) … you never know when inspiration strikes, and how I’ll find a way to bring it into the shop to share :)

Why did you decide to make eco-friendly item?
Fabric is such an interesting medium to work with, and finding a way to blend different colors and textures is a fun challenge. To me, taking shirts no one loves and making them into something unique and new is really a lot of fun, not to mention good for the environment.

How do you find your up-cycled materials?
At first it was easy… just clean out my own family’s closets… then I started running out of options, and got creative. Now, I have a network of friends who regularly bring me bags of unloved goodies to sort through, plus several thrift stores that I regularly make rounds at to pick up back stock.

How long does it take you to cut up your materials to make one RipTie?
Great question! It really depends on how many skeins of a particular color blend I am making… if I am just doing a one-skein blend of say three different fabrics, it generally takes me about 10-15 minutes to slice and process, and another 20-30 minutes to tie and roll. I’ve never really timed myself… if I knew I was being timed I might try to beat the clock and get it done in under 30 minutes 😉 I keep a large backstock of colors all sliced and processed at the ready, so then it’s just perusing my color bins and selecting the fabrics to blend, and tying them up.

What kind of eco-friendly things do you do in your everyday life?
I try to cut back on buying things from the store by growing a garden and having a few hens to lay eggs, of shopping thrift stores over the mall when reasonable. If I am doing any kind of spring cleaning, I always try to find another use for something someone no longer wants, before discarding (discarding generally means donating, I try not to throw perfectly usable things in the garbage ever).

What do you find the hardest thing is to do to help the environment?
Convincing people there’s a need to cut back. I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older that people are very programmed to always keep upgrading the things in their lives. Newest phone, latest computer, this season’s fashions… I’m more retro in that if I like it and it works, I’m good. Constantly feeling like you have to upgrade your possessions can be incredibly wasteful. I grew up with very little, and yet was pretty fine with that. I’ve always been able to see value in simple things. I think convincing other people of this is difficult.

What do you think is biggest problem for the planet/people?
Water quality. Without water, we’re done.

One fun fact about you
When I say I “go ninja” on a bagful of clothing to come up with my RipTie, I’m not really exaggerating. Because while my “day jobs” consist of being a graphic artist, a high school cheerleading coach, a fitness instructor, and a face/body painter, I also am a certified martial arts instructor (I can’t help it, I have a fondness for sharp and shiny things). :)

Right now RipTies is offering doing custom blends of skeins of RipTie, for just a $10 fee… you can request the colors you want blended, and can be for as many skeins as you’d like (skeins are generally 40 yds. each), for just one $10 custom blend fee.

Etsy shop: RipTie Knits 
Facebook: RipTie Knits