Tag Archives: recycle

Upcycle vs. Recycle .. What’s the Dif? Who Cares, it WAS a Sweater

You could take THIS …

recycled sweater

and turn it into THIS …

recyceld sweater into new dress

{ p/c Make It Love It }

Today, I went a-looking for a way to turn my old, worn out, loved and loved again til it was beyond tired (and unworthy of consignment) sweater INTO mittens.

recycled sweater into mittens

{ p/c A Beautiful Mess  (a personal fave blog) }

And to my wondering eyes did appear…

ALL of these beyond wonderful ideas for my previously loved sweater:

recycled sweater stockings sweater dachshunds recycled sweater boot socks recycled sweater blanket

recycled sweater dog bed

Check out these ideas and many many more on our Pin Board here.

Now I need to find more sweaters!

You do too?

Don’t forget to check the clearance section or quarter bins at all of our locations for inexpensive sweaters you can upcycle … or recycle … or whatevs!

Who cares!  It WAS a sweater!  Am I right?!

Happy Holidays!



Would You Buy It?

Although I’m pretty sure my face melted off as I left my office today, I’m ready for the cardi and the scarf and the jeans … heck, even just a breeze.  

AND I am sick to death of my closet full of nothing to wear! Time to recycle the goods and figure out what, if anything, I can possibly get rid of.  As I shuffled through each and every piece, I began to recognize the repetition of justifications running through my head, minus the removal of anything:

” Meh …haven’t worn that in the past 6 months … maybe even a year? But this is SO my color” 

“Spent way too much on that one … I can’t just give it away”

“I’m starting that amazing new diet tomorrow- it’ll fit again real soon” 

“I used to wear THIS all the time! Who cares if it’s faded – even better”

“Dang! This was a steal! … I haven’t worn it yet but … “

“I look like a sausage in this one … but it still says Juicy Couture”

This clearly wasn’t working.

So I decided to try a completely different approach.

I closed the closet.

Took a deep breath … found my focus { as if it were some Olympic event }.

Opened it up again.

This time, I looked at it as if I were going shopping for the first time, asking myself “Would I buy this right now? Today? With this body? And this budget?”

Sliding hanger by hanger, as if combing through the department store racks, I pulled out each item that I would NOT buy right now.  Wrong color, wrong size, wrong season, wrong style, just. plain. wrong.


Problem solved.

Now I sort into four simple piles:

1. Sister     2. Stuff Etc      3. Donate    4. Burn baby burn

What a joyous feeling!

AND I got the bug ..  lookout kiddos .. momma’s coming to your room next!

Now it’s your turn.

Go on …

get shopping in that closet of yours!

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I love the idea of using recycled items as planters.

It’s green. It’s creative. and I think it looks cool.

{ p/c via apartment therapy }

Sometimes it takes a little thinking outside the box like these awesome ideas…

{ p/c via curbly }

I found these items in our stores that I think will be PERFECT!

That little chef hat dude …

YEP! He’s going home with me .. I envision some rad hair growing outta that hat!

Here are some other ideas I really like:

The following upcycle ideas aren’t really MY style, but i guess you gotta give ’em some credit for creativity:

What are your garden plans this year?

Hope you found a little inspiration!

Changing Our Ways

There is a whole lot of buzzing on the internet today about the MIT prediction “global economic crash; the next great depression”

But what caught my eye and got my wheels a turnin’ in my busy lil’ brain was a comment a friend posted today on facebook :

(hope you don’t mind me sharing Ashley)

“We need to be reducing, reusing, and recycling more than ever! MIT among other groups are predicting another “Great Depression” if we don’t change our ways. We are using too many of our resources at a rapid rate. I am trying to be greener in my everyday life: using less paper towels and using rags instead, I recycle everything I possibly can, repurposing things, taking advantage of consigning items we no longer use or donating them to Goodwill, and even though it isn’t the most efficient on gas…I am driving my 1998 Dodge Durango until I have to replace it. We need to quit living these materialistic lives and bring focus back to what is most important: our families and the future we are providing for our children. You don’t have to turn into a “tree hugger,” but start thinking collectively. Think about how your actions affect your future, others’ lives, the planet, the relationships that the US has with other countries, and so on.”

I think Ashley hit it on the head.  Nailed. It.

I’ve heard of “ethical consumerism” but my favorite term to date is


It’s true that consumerism makes the world go round.  Many believe and promote that the world will tank if we aren’t spending and buying and selling and money money money money.  And the interesting thing is MIT is predicting the opposite.   I say we just need to be smarter.

We all need to be smarter about how we spend, how we use our resources, how we are giving back and what we are leaving behind for our children.

Ashley mentioned steps that she has incorporated into her life and family.

Here is a link from Real Simple magazine that tells you how to recycle EVERYTHING!  I found it fascinating and inspiring.

Some may say it’s too much, too hard, too overwhelming …

But I say we have to start somewhere.  Pick one or two, five or ten …

but start somewhere.

And I would be amiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to say that consigning your  no-longer-needed-previously-loved clothing, furniture, and practically everything under your roof at Stuff Etc is an excellent first step.

Bring us your items and we will turn it into cash for you. I am addicted to this process!  Having four, constantly growing kids, I am always taking our things in to consign and turning it around to pick up the items my kids or home need now … all in one place.  And I didn’t spend any money.  I just recycled it.


So my friends … I ask you, what are you doing today?  What will you be doing tomorrow? How will you “start somewhere”?

In Awe of Restructuring

Maybe it’s because I’m not gifted in this way, but I am in total awe of others that have the vision and the talent to take recycled clothing and turn it into something completely different!

Like Stuff shopper, Megan Clark, from Sigourney.

I was in my office working away yesterday when I overheard Megan explaining to her young son what she was doing,

“I’m buying clothes that I can make into something else.”

“oh” he quietly responds.

But my ears perk up and I think … ‘I gotta meet this girl!’

Now, it’s always awkward approaching a complete stranger as you try to explain that you weren’t really eavesdropping, but you couldn’t help overhearing her comment.  Megan was very kind and when I asked if she would be willing to send me some pictures of her creations, she said “What about these?”

No way! Legwarmers made out of a sweatshirt!!!!  BRILLIANT Megan!!!


Absolutely brilliant!  I. Love. Them!

When I asked if I could take her picture, she kindly obliged and mentioned that the sweater she was wearing (and so stylishly belted, I might add) was once a men’s sweater that she restructured to have pockets and a trendy flair.

love. the. whole. darn. thing! (isn’t she adorable?)

Thank you, Megan!

For sharing your talents (and for not thinking I’m some creepy basement lady listening in on mother /son conversations).

I look forward to featuring more of Megan and her restructured fashions here on Stuff Happens.

Happy Weekend

Hello my lovelies!

Sounds like a little snow is headed our way, so I was thinking, what better time for some repurposing projects?

Check out a few of my faves that have me totally inspired …

…  repurposed bike …

… recycled globes …

… repurposed barn wood …

… recycled books …

… repurposed lace doilies …

… recycled tv …

My problem is, I can’t decide which one to do first!

Hope you all have a fantastic and meaningful weekend … stay awesome!

{ p/c peppermags }

Time to Revolve Your Closet

I think I’ve used this picture more than once …

But I love it!

I mean, who hasn’t been here? (Me for one …. ALOT lately!)

Staring blindly at the bursting-at-the-seams-closet but nothing to wear syndrome.

OR nothing in my closet fits!

OR I can’t stand the thought of wearing that shirt-pant-skirt-sweater-dress one more time!

Well… I say don’t bother!

Clean it out all your best, previously loved SPRING clothing and accessories, and bring them into any of our Stuff Etc locations.

We will turn it into cash for you!

And while you’re here, pick up something “new” to you.  Our racks are packed with current styles and fashions to dress you and yours head to toe!

All of our fall and winter items are currently 20% off and all of our spring clothing will hit the floors just after our storewide half price sales this month.

Visit us in Iowa City, Coralville, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo & Davenport!

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Resale.

We hear these words every day, don’t we? It’s all around us.  At the grocery store, in our schools, our workplace, on TV…but how many of us actually practice it?

I try to do my part…return my cans and bottles, food scraps go to the pigs, burn my paper goods, and consign/shop at Stuff Etc.  But after reviewing the facts, which I tend to avoid because it brings out my OCD, I’m still not doing enough!  Check these out:

  • The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.
  • The highest point in Hamilton County, Ohio (near Cincinnati) is “Mount Rumpke.” It is actually a mountain of trash at the Rumpke sanitary landfill towering 1045 ft. above sea level.
  • The US population discards each year 16,000,000,000 diapers, 1,600,000,000 pens, 2,000,000,000 razor blades, 220,000,000 car tires, and enough aluminum to rebuild the US commercial air fleet four times over.
  • Out of every $10 spent buying things, $1 (10%) goes for packaging that is thrown away. Packaging represents about 65% of household trash.

So what can we do? We all know the basics as I mentioned in my own personal efforts.  But I suggest baby steps to making a bigger personal change, a larger commitment to reducing waste.

1. Get rid of the plastic!! Shop with reusable shopping bags.  More and more businesses are offering discounts when you shop this way. Recycle your water bottles, detergent bottles, etc. Plastic is one of the worst substances for our environment!

2. Reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill by selling or donating your no longer needed items.  If Stuff Etc can’t sell them for you, there are numerous organizations that are always looking for clothing, shoes, and other items they can send to third world countries in need, and it that isn’t enough of a reason, you can usually get a tax donation receipt.

3. Buy recycled!  There are numerous stores dedicated to a green way of living.  If you shop around, you can find the exactly what you and/or your family needs that has been repurposed, resold, recycled…items that have rightfully managed to avoid our already exceedingly full landfills.

We can all do our part and an easy way to start is with Stuff Etc.  Good luck!


Cross Off TWO Resolutions!

Two of the most common resolutions on many top ten lists of resolutions are GET ORGANIZED and SAVE MONEY.  Am I right or am I right?
Guess what?!  I started yesterday!  I know. I know.  It’s only January 2nd, but shoot!  Why waste time?  I live in a very large farmhouse which comfortably allows for many things to gather without being too obvious.  But as I was trying to put away Christmas and our closets were literally bursting… I said to myself, “Sister, it is time to get to Stuff!”  (yes, I sometimes call myself sister, cause it’s fun, AND I am actually a sister so it’s applicable too) 🙂
I looked like I was heading into battle. I armed myself with a huge stash of recycle bags and pockets full of trash bags and went from room to room.  I organized and gathered items that we no longer use (or sadly never used).  I kept the Stuff Etc standards in mind and into the recycle bags went the items I can consign and as hard as it was, the other items went into trash bags that will go to donation.  And even further, the stuff NOBODY deserves to be burdened with went to the burn pile.
Talk about rejuvenating!  And even more exhilarating is reaping the financial rewards!  WHICH I have resolved to SAVE at the bank of Stuff Etc.  I mean, shoot, it’s like free money, right?  It’s not like I had to work too hard for it and if I just leave it there and let it build up, when it’s time to get the kid’s school clothes in the fall I won’t have to take it from my paycheck – just use my store credit.  Or if we want to take a little family trip (another resolution “spend more time with family”) that we probably can’t usually afford, then I will have some money that again, won’t have to come from my paycheck.   WIN/WIN!!
Looky there!  TWO, possibly THREE, resolutions I can actually check off my list this year.  Let’s face it, it’s hard to follow through with the resolutions year after year.  And being a goal-oriented person, it’s almost depressing when I’m unable to cross things off my list…seriously! I almost resolved to not even have resolutions, but when Stuff Etc makes it this easy…I am a happy person and a successful list crosser-offer!