Annnnd we're back with Part 2 of this 3-part BONUS series on living sustainably amidst Back to School season!
Part 1 covered low-waste lunches and school supplies! Today, we're sharing our best eco-hacks for clothing and backpacks (because Lord knows how these kids keep outgrowing, shredding, misplacing, molding, and whatever else they're doing to these items every year...) ;)
Tiffany Norton, owner of Juniperseed Mercantile and The Fly Button, joins Katie Kurpanek, Eco-Living Coach and Podcast Host, to continue this conversation -- empowering you with our best tips and tricks for navigating this back-to-school season sustainably.
Tune in tomorrow for the final Part 3 covering minimizing waste within the classroom-- and this is not just for teachers, it's an all-hands-on-deck collaboration between schools AND families!
Additional Resources mentioned in episode:
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More about Tiffany:
JuniperSeed Mercantile website and Instagram: @juniperseedmercantile
The Fly Button website (educational professional development)
You're listening to all things sustainable, where we unpack topics related to sustainable living, as well as how to apply specific actions to your own life. I'm your eco living coach and podcast host Katie Kurpanek. Let's jump in. Hey, everybody, we are back with our second bonus podcast episode about back to school season and living sustainably. These are just a few bonus episodes in between Season Two and season three, season three will be launching officially in September. So that's about one month from right now if you missed the first episode, you will definitely want to go back stop this one go back right now and listen to it because I officially introduced Tiffany, my friend and guest speaker in this episode. She's been on the podcast earlier as well in season two because she is the owner of juniper seed mercantile, which is a zero waste shop in Colorado, and also a manufacturer of lots of sustainable products. And in that episode, we both go back and forth sharing our best tips and tricks that we can think of as a parent's perspective. And also former teachers perspective about low waste school supplies, lunches, snacks, a bunch of DIY hacks, you name it. So that is all in the first episode. And today we are just picking right up where that conversation left off and diving into today's topic, which is about clothing and backpacks. Tiffany is full of amazing ideas. And I'm so excited that we got to chat about this and share all of these tricks with you. I hope that you find this episode supportive in your sustainable journey. When we talk about the word sustainable, we are aiming for a lifestyle that is sustainable for you, for me, for us, meaning it is something that we can actually maintain, these are habits that we can incorporate into our daily lives. Typically they should be affordable and less stressful, it should relieve a lot of burdens on your plate. And then of course it is better for the planet, if you want to receive the emails that are going out with these bonus podcast episodes. Or if you even just want to receive my weekly sustainable Sunday emails where I send out some eco hacks and kind of what's new on the podcast and other supportive things that I feel like you should know, then you can sign up for those with the link in the show notes or just go to my website, that minimal life.com right on the homepage, you will be able to just put in your email into the little box that shows up there. And then that's it. Once you hit submit, then you're in and you will receive those each week. And then it'll also send you a freebie, a five simple steps starting guide to living with less waste right into your inbox just for signing up, you will also be among the first to know of something that is really big that I'm launching in less than a week. Now I mentioned this in the previous episode. And I'm not going to give too many details away. But I cannot wait to share this big big thing that I have been working on with you all it is geared towards families, caretakers, if you are a parent or expecting to be a parent or you know somebody who is this will be of interest to you, I am officially opening up a shop on my that minimal Life website. And so this thing that will be there will be available for you to give you a ton of support when it comes to raising a sustainable family. And it will also give you an opportunity to join a community so that you don't feel alone in this journey. I can't wait to share more with you in less than a week. Sign up for those emails if you can, and you'll be among the first to know. Okay, with all that said, let's dive right into today's topic. Well, let's talk about clothes and backpacks. Because, you know, just most of the time, I feel like when families are getting into back to school season, especially if they have kids that are like you know, actively growing year after year, they have a lot of growth spurts, they're going to be going through, you know, clothing. So thinking through what they're going to be wearing backpacks. That will kind of be like this topic for some tips. So, of course, like I said before, with supplies, I think my first tip that I'm always going to lead with is like shopping secondhand as much as possible. And just like a handful of places that I would throw out there as ideas, thrift stores, you know, they're pretty common all over the place, being able to look there as a starting point. But I've also been having a lot of luck recently on like Facebook marketplace, and then or even apps like Poshmark that sell clothing online. I know that for especially older maybe like high school students, that would be a good app to turn to. And then garage sales these days. I don't know if you've had this experience, but I feel like Every single garage sale I go to anymore, it's just kid stuff. It's like kids clothing, kids, gear, baby gear, that kind of stuff. So I feel like that is a really good place to turn to you for kids clothes. And then if you want to do things that are also like free, then you can go online and search for buy nothing groups like b u y buy nothing. And on Facebook, I know of at least two that I'm a part of in Colorado, there's like free community, Colorado and free in Denver. And those places, you can just post what you need. And people will just keep circulating things to each other with no cost.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
And then a great way to do maternity clothes to Yes,Katie Kurpanek:
yes, I love that. And then the last thing I thought for free too, is like you could either find or host a clothing swap. So you could do that within the school, maybe get like the school on board in hosting that during back to school season, if you have that kind of connection. Or you could just organize it within like your own neighborhood. But bringing together a bunch of families that just want to swap clothing is such a great way to tap into all that's available out there. And not have to go buy anything new.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
Yeah, agreed. Another idea is to join a facebook group that is parents of students who go to the school that your kids go to, oh, yeah, the school that my kids go to, or have gone to the seniors or kids who are just growing and they grow out of their clothes, they have a lot of like the expensive like school hoodies and T shirts, and, you know, track suits and things like that for you know, for different sports that they all play. And those things are really they add up when your kids are in sports, it is just crazy how you forgot to buy the cleats and the helmets and the you know, everything. And if you join one of those groups, a lot of times the parents who say you know, their kids are getting bigger or they're graduated or something, they'll say I have size smaller. I have, you know, cleats in size, eight and a half. Oh, nice. So that's a really nice way to get good equipment and good clothes.Katie Kurpanek:
For cheap or free. Yeah. I love that point with the sports equipment too. Because yeah, all that stuff does add up so much. And I think there's a store in Aurora. Have you heard of the store? It's, I think called Play it again. Yeah, yeah. Okay, so that's like a second hand sports themed store, which is awesome. And then a couple other stores I know of, or shops really that are like small and local in Colorado, Kid to Kid is all over the place. And then there's also wee cycle W E E cycle. And both of those places are great for like, especially if you're looking for the younger age to school children clothes, and even like gear and other things that you might need toys. That's not really school related. But I mean, find a lot there.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
All adds up. It's so expensive. Yeah. And so much waste. Yeah, eliminate either of those two or both elements. And it's a win win.Katie Kurpanek:
Yeah. And then donating back to those places to like, keep it and keep it going. Keep it in circulation.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
Yeah, I always encourage you know, my kids are older. And it's cool now to thrift, which I love because there was a phase when they were younger, where they were like, I'm not gonna wear pants at someone else were. But now that they have to spend some of their own money. And I think the trends have changed. And the kids like to do some thrifting now, but I always say you can't come home with more than you brought. So I mean, I don't have they're old enough to make their own choices on that. But I think it's a good way to a good rule to live by you know, if I'm gonna go to the thrift store, I'm bringing a bag with me of stuff that I don't like or want anymore. Yeah, yeah. Um, so another thing that's, that's more or less free, is to take inventory of the things that you have. And if you have things that are like, stained or discolored or dingy, there's so many fun ways to dye them or tie dye them or, you know, fix them up in in some ways that don't involve sewing, you and I did that fun plant based tie dye workshop, which I loved and my son has a pair of white Converse tenis from last year that look like they've been run over by a truck, which is probably true. And, and we're gonna just dye them so you can you can use Rit dye that you can get at the store. It's not a plant based thing you can make plant based dye. But another thing that I think is pretty fun to do with canvas shoes, is to tie dye them with Sharpies. So if you have the colored types of Sharpies, or just color on them with a black sharpie, I suppose, but colored sharpies are dissolvable in alcohol. And so what I had done with pair shoes that I did you know if you draw dots or draw designs, you know big polka dots and things and then you is an eyedropper with rubbing alcohol and just sort of drop the alcohol on the die. It'll make it spread and make your colors blend together, it's a really fun way to make your shoes look really cool. And then you can go back in with like a white Sharpie or white paint marker and draw little stars and make your shoes like Galaxy colored, which I think the kids all think it was really neat.Katie Kurpanek:
Oh, I love that. That's super cool. I'm gonna have to try that for myself. I feel like another Well, this was just something that I did when I was in high school. But I also would take Sharpie and do kind of the same thing on my jeans. I'd never tried that with alcohol. But I did like just if especially if my jeans were starting to get old or faded or whatever, then I would just like decorate all over them with Sharpies. And I would do that with my friends. And then I kept wearing them. Even though they were old jeans now they were kind of like fun old jeans.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
Yeah, absolutely. And making patches I think is really fun too. If you don't mind using a needle and thread or doing a little bit of mending. You can really easily put like a, you know, a colored fabric like a bandana or something like that under the hole, and like the knee of your jeans, you know, you trim out all the threads and then put the fabric on there and then do like a fun little embroidery stitch around. It is kind of fun. There's lots of books and like Pinterest boards and things like that about visible mending, which is a fun way of taking your mending project. And instead of like my grandmother was always very particular about having invisible stitches. She wanted it to look like it had never been repaired. And that's really intimidating to think about it like that. Yeah, I like the Punky Brewster style, you know, where everything is just like wild colors and visible stitches and stuff like that, that makes it really fun toKatie Kurpanek:
Yeah, I love that. Because then you can get really expressive and artistic with it. Like you can have a fun color or patterned patch that just like stands out on the rest of your clothing. And, yeah,Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
when they get started on that you just keep going. So now that you know how to sew a patch on, you can lengthen a pair of jeans for like kiddos who girls especially I think just go like noodles, you know, they don't they don't grow in all their dimensions at the same rate. They just grow like taller. And so a lot of times their pants are too short, it's so easy to just add a ruffle of clever you know, cute pattern fabric at the bottom of the cuffs of your pants. And then they're brand new again for a whole nother year.Katie Kurpanek:
That is so fun. I feel like that would be really fun on like the well I think those wide leg jeans or what are they called like the not bell bottoms, but kind of they're kind of coming back into style too. Yeah. And so then that would be fun to just like keep the flare going with some kind of app at the bottom.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
I think like in the 70s they would cut the knee off, cut, cut it at the knee and remove all of that stuff. And then replace it with like a new kind of skirted. Look at the bottom. Ooh, that'sKatie Kurpanek:
really fun.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
There are so many patterns online of ways that you can take clothes that's too big, you know, like a men's dress shirt. There's many, many, many patterns of things, fun things that you can make out of an old men's dress shirt just more than I can even describe for you. And unfortunately most of them are four little girls because it's so easy to make. Or at least people who wear dresses to make sort of a boxy, triangular shaped thing with like little skinny straps, super cute tops and dresses and things like that it doesn't take a ton of skill. But there's also like joggers with drawstrings you can take like the the arms of the mental stress sleeve and use that little cuff as the cuff for the joggers, there's all kinds of really cute ideas.Katie Kurpanek:
That's so fun. I feel like these would all be really really great like party ideas to like, I know that you at your store you host the make mend and mingle events. And that seems like so much fun to go to. But then like people could do that. I mean, with your kids, you could have them invite some friends over and then everybody just gets to work on like one of those sort of DIY crafts or, or more depending on how much time you have. And then go into this school season with like, an entire group of friends wearing things that they've created and feel really proud of, I think that'd be so much fun.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
I think so too. And you can make backpacks too out of old jeans. So just like the waist part of the jeans, you know, there's different modifications you can do and put straps on them and those are kind of fun too.Katie Kurpanek:
Okay, well speaking of backpacks, I am going to link this again in the episode description so people can find it but I found a fun article that has like, all these different types of sustainably made backpacks. If people you know don't want to make their own or they can't really find what they want secondhand then I always point people to if you're buying new then like what kind of small business or ethical sustainable business can you support? And so this one in particular, you know, some of the backpacks are made out of like very hard to recycle materials. So And that was just turned into vinyl billboards? Yeah. And then others? Well, yeah, there's that there's, I think one of them was made with like, so many plastic water bottles. And then one of them was made with like a vegan alternative to leather. So especially if your kids are in high school or something, and they're looking for something that's more stylish, but they want that to be in line with their ethics, like they had those types of options. And then there were also just more like sustainable fabric types, like there was hemp and organic cotton, and I can't remember what else but lots of different options on there. So it's fun when you're like, Okay, if you want to buy something new, then you can have something that now kind of makes a statement about like your own ethics. And also, you put your money where your mouth is, and you feel really like proud of that.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
Yeah, I love those ideas. And to just play devil's advocate on this one, this might not be a popular idea. But I have had to throw away some backpacks because my kids leave their lunches in there. And they get just moldy and gross, like, damaged beyond repair. And so I went through a phase where I couldn't really justify buying expensive, you know, ethically produced backpacks. Luckily, the string bag was hip and trendy enough that and easy to produce. So you can just make you know, a drawstring bag out of whatever fabric you have, or buy some cute fabric. And when you run the drawstring through, you're going to like fold over the top and make that little channel that the drawstring goes into. But then also a grommet down at the lower two corners of a hole or not or something a button, you know, any sort of fastener down there at the bottom. And that's what gives you the backpack straps. So when you sent your bag shot like this, then the two strings on either side become the backpack straps. And you can put those on the washing machine. Oh, smart.Katie Kurpanek:
I like that a lot. Yeah. And also thinking about the, like how gross it can get. I mean, teaching first grade, oh my goodness, I got so many nasty smells coming out of like their little cubbies. And I'd go over and I'm like, Okay, we got to figure out who's mess. Yes, like, what is happening over here. But maybe if they like made this backpack, if it's like a homemade thing, maybe the, I don't know, I would be hopeful that like my own kiddos would be conscious to not leave food in there or like they wouldn't want it to get ruined.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
The funny thing is, that I've observed is that kids are embarrassed when they let their food rot in the backpack, and then they won't even clean it. So I'll have like, who's backpack is this? Like, nobody leaves the room until somebody claims this backpack. And they won't do it. And I said, don't make me get in there and smell your rotten milk and then pull the notebook out with your name on it. Oh, believe this right here. And I hope that by the end of the day, somebody sneaks this backpack home with them or at least into the garbage. And it would always go somebody would come back for it and be like, oh, man, she's gonna pull my notebook out with my name on it.Katie Kurpanek:
Oh my gosh, that's hilarious.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
Yeah. Yeah, but you can't recover from spilled milk in the backpack?Katie Kurpanek:
No, it's bad. It's so bad. Okay, so I like I like your washable backpacks idea or like the drawstring bad idea that's really useful.Tiffany, JuniperSeed:
Definitely just check Pinterest. If you use words like clothing redesign, or thrifting or upcycling or free cycling, there's all kinds of collections that people have already put together have fun ideas of easy clothes to make out of other clothes.Katie Kurpanek:
Love it. Yeah, I think that would be so much fun. Cool. Well, let's dive into our final part to this series is really focused on minimizing waste within the classroom... There you go, my friends. That is where I'm going to leave you hanging for now, as we wrap up part two of this bonus series of three episodes for back to school season and sustainability. Tomorrow, the final episode part three will be up and live and you can pick up this conversation where we talk about minimizing waste within the classroom. If you are a parent or a caretaker don't dismiss this episode, just because you're not a teacher or you don't work in a school. This definitely applies to you. This is the episode where we kind of tie everything together and talk about how parents families, the community within a school can all work together to make more sustainable changes and impacts and involving our students, our kiddos as well. This conversation has been so much fun to have with Tiffany I hope you've been enjoying it so far. And I am excited to release the final part tomorrow. Again, you can check the show notes for all the different resources everything we talked about and mentioned that will be linked in that episode description, as well as information for how you can follow up with Tiffany if you're interested in what she does. And then if you also want to be in the know about what is launching next week with that minimal life. A huge support is coming for families as you strive to live sustainably and also are looking for a community that you can be connected in. You can learn all about that by signing up for my weekly emails that minimal life.com The homepage gives you a box where you can put in your email and then that's it you are joined. That's all you need to do. And to thank you for joining you will receive a five step freebie with five steps for living sustainably to just get you started on your journey. I am so excited to be in this with you. Thank you for everything that you are doing. You're juggling so much if you're listening to this, and you are dealing with all of the things that come with raising kids and your family and managing your day to day life and this back to school season. who take a deep breath remember to drink some water, get some rest. Take care of yourself as you can and I will see you back again tomorrow.