Things I Didn’t Buy

Because I have better things to do than make another trip to the store. Because I want to be more respectful of the things that I do own. And because I don’t want to waste more of the Earth’s resources than I already do.

A Lawn Refuse Bag

After some lawn cleanup this weekend, we had a large pile of grass and weed clippings. Some folks around here buy lawn refuse bags, stuff them full of grass or leaves, and let the city collect them in huge trucks for municipal compost. No way! I raked it onto a piece of burlap to get it over to the compost bin, dumped it in, and someday it’ll be beautiful compost.

A Book

With a lot of book clubs, every member buys a brand new copy of the book. (And sometimes don’t even read it!) But like many participants in the Talk Green to Me book club, I checked out a copy from the library. The library website shows that someone else has a hold on the book and is waiting for it, so I’ll make sure to finish and return it by the end of the week too.

Random Crap

I’ve been near Goodwill stores a few times recently and have resisted the urge to go in. There isn’t anything in particular I need, so it’s likely if I go in that I’ll come right out with some impulse buy that I’ll soon regret.


I posted earlier about patching up an old pair of jeans that were getting worn out. Apparently, I should have done symmetrical patching because before I knew it an actual hole had developed in the other side. No worries, because I had a needle and thread and some scrap denim and now have another almost entirely invisible inner patch to keep those jeans fully functional for a while.

A Bathroom Vanity

The bathroom vanity in our new house isn’t the most beautiful thing in the world. For a while, every time I looked at it, it tempted me to replace the whole thing. My husband was even more convinced that it had to be trashed. But now after a coat of (recycled) paint, it looks decent enough that I no longer have to deal with that temptation.

A Car

No temptation here. I have a monthly bus pass which gets me anywhere I need to go beyond walking distance, and I can read my library books on the way. I may be able to get places a little faster with my own car, but nah, I can live without the cost, the maintenance, and the stress of driving around in busy traffic.

The Not New Jeans

I recently had to retire a pair of jeans, so I’m not ready to lose another. This pair is pretty special too. It’s the only pair I still own from back when I still bought jeans new. They probably lasted so long because I’m very partial to jeans that are blue, but these black jeans are finally fully broken in and super comfortable. Maybe a bit too broken in, as I recently discovered this small hole in the inner thigh section.

Ripped jeans quickly approaching the point of no repair

It’s a good idea to check your clothes regularly to see if they need mending anywhere, maybe while putting them away after each washing, but much of the time I find my clothes magically washed. For some reason, this is one of the chores my husband enjoys.

Anyhow, even though I found this late and the worn-thin fabric had already developed into a hole that I could poke my finger through, there was still plenty of time to save these jeans. I quickly gathered up some supplies:

  • Some scissors
  • A denim patch from a pair of retired jeans
  • A needle
  • Matching thread

(Some people are really into visible mending and you can do that too, but I prefer the kind that no one notices. )

In this case, the hole was small enough that I started by stitching both sides of the gap together. This makes the rest of the sewing a lot easier.

Then, with the dark side of the patch facing outwards, I loosely sewed it around the worn out area. Sewed a couple of zigzags through the middle to make sure all of it was firmly attached. Sewed near the edges of the patch (after trimming to size) so the patch wouldn’t be tempted to come loose. Sewed any area where it wasn’t already sewn. The inside may not be pretty, but hey it’s the inside. The spot that was previously worn thin is now well-reinforced.

Completed patch from the inside

Since they’re black jeans and the hole was on the inner thigh, you’d have to be looking really hard to see the patch.

Mended jeans

So, there you have it. My jeans are saved. The 1,800 gallons of water that it takes to grow cotton for a new pair of jeans is spared. The pesticides, dyes, and chemical softeners that would have gone into creating that new pair are also spared. Best of all, I’m spared the frustrations of trying on a billion pairs of new jeans before finding one that fits kind of okay. I have a perfectly good pair already broken in.

Peak Curtains

When I usually think of Ikea I think of cheap, disposable furniture that can frequently be found in the Craigslist free section. So it was no surprise when reading how Ikea officer Steve Howard recently told The Guardian:

“If we look on a global basis, in the west we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings.”

Rows of curtains
Peak Curtains – Photo by sarflondondunc

This current apex which Howard also describes as “peak curtains” certainly seems unsustainable to many, but mainly in the sense that we’re using up resources and creating more piles of waste. It’s interesting to hear how this is actually also unsustainable from a business perspective. As individual items are constructed and sold cheaper and cheaper, it makes sense that there must be some kind of limit. Howard suggested that Ikea can continue growing with some changes, stating

“We will be increasingly building a circular Ikea where you can repair and recycle products”.

It’s a step in the right direction, but vague enough that I’m not sure what it means. For example, I myself own two Ikea chairs. They’re okay but the fabric is super cheap and starting to get ugly. Does “repair” include reupholstery or at least higher quality slipcovers?

Two Ikea chairs in need of some decent upholstery

I’m hoping that statement above doesn’t mean Ikea’s going to create a giant recycling system for people to throw their old chairs into, which can then be disassembled or shredded and reused for materials. (I hear they shred their old catalogs this way and stuff them into new cushions.)

Although these aren’t my favorite chairs, they serve their purpose and are just ready and waiting for me to improve on them. Maybe this falls under the category “repair” and Ikea really is encouraging people to love their furnishings for longer. Here’s hoping. 🙂

As for curtains, that’s one area where my home furnishings are definitely lacking. But I have a sewing machine and some large pillow cases to tackle any small windows. One day I hope to even make a pair of these awesome patchwork curtains to show off in my living room. And if I run out of thread? Well, I guess I could pick some up at Ikea, but I don’t really expect to be buying anything there unless they stop making me walk past a bunch of cheap crap to find what I need.