Reuse Centers & Businesses Support Sustainable Living & Learning

Community Resources Support Creative and Practical Reuse

As humans have become more aware of our impact on the planet, we’ve also become more aware of the need to live in a way that is more sustainable than how we’ve lived in the past. Part of our search for sustainability includes being mindful of the things that we consume, their source, and the place(s) where they end up when we’re no longer using them. By recycling and reusing objects and materials, families can decrease their impact on the earth – and an added bonus of reuse is the potential to acquire items very inexpensively (or maybe even for free!).

Locally, there are a handful of community resources that support families in their pursuit of learning about reuse. Read the rest of this entry »

Visible Mending Blends Fiber Arts with Sustainability

Visible Mending Activates Creativity and Gives New Life to Old Clothes

Favorite jeans are torn at the knees, treasured flannels have frayed at the elbows, the warmest of socks have split in the toes; what’s the fate of all of these once new, now well-loved garments? Rather than passing them on to a thrift store or adding them to a sewing scrap pile, families can give new life to their well-worn clothes by doing a bit of creative visible mending. Combining basic sewing skills, a bit of artistry, and the principles of leading a more sustainable lifestyle, visible mending is a perfect solution to the woes of well-worn clothing, and provides a simple means of upcycling goods. It’s even a great entry point for exploring sewing skills!

The concept of mending, of course, has been around for eons – dating back to a time when simply buying a replacement simply wasn’t an option. Today, mending remains important, and offers many a simple fix for the small tears and worn patches that clothes will inevitably experience. Visible mending, however, differs from regular mending in that it’s meant to be seen (hence its name), and gives new life to articles of clothing by not only fixing rips, tears, and the like, but by adding interesting (and perhaps artistic) details to clothing. Visible mending is not only practical, but can be exciting and engaging for creative folks. Read the rest of this entry »

Hilltown Families 4th Annual Board Game Swap

Hilltown Families
Community Board Game Swap

A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for friends and family too. Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to everyone.

On Saturday, December 7th, 2013 from 9:30-11am, Hilltown Families is sponsoring a free Board Game Swap in the community room at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA. All community members are invited to bring in complete board games they’d like to swap.

Swapping board games with other families gives the community a chance to come together and discover new games while rejuvenating their collection of board games. Having new board games to explore with our kids opens up opportunities for families to spend time together, while allowing children to practice skills and concepts.  Puzzles and card games are welcomed too.  Any leftover complete games, puzzles and card games will be donated to the Meekins Library Holiday Market.

What: Hilltown Families Board Game Swap
Where: Meekins Library Community Room (Route 9, Williamsburg, MA)
When: Saturday, December 7th, 2013
Time: 9:30-11am
Cost: Free
Who: All are welcomed!

Trash-to-Treasure: Upcycling Craze in Holyoke

Trash-to-Treasure Workshops
Wistariahurst Museum Hosts Kids’ Crafts

Join Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke in the upcycling craze with kids’ craft events this month as part of a series of Trash-to-Treasure workshops! First, on Wednesday, July 24th at 11am kids will construct their own kaleidoscope from materials found in everyone’s own home at “Kaleidoscopes for Kids.” “Trash” you can bring to upcycle into this treasure: Pringles can or paper towel tube.

Return on Wednesday, July 31st at 11am for “Bottle Cap Crafts: Jewelry, Magnets and More” where you can fashion a neat necklace, a spectacular keychain, or a marvelous magnet. “Trash” you can bring to upcycle into this treasure: found objects, broken jewelry, buttons and more!  All other supplies will be provided and reservations are suggested.

Can’t make it to the Museum?  Both projects are fun to do at home.  Learn how to make bottle cap necklaces (or magnets & keychains) using expoxy stickers in this DIY video:

Read the rest of this entry »

Kids Swap Meet In Northampton

Northampton’s Free Kid’s Stuff Exchange
Smith Vocational High School Cafeteria
Saturday March 9 from 8am-12pm

Upcycle Artist, MaryLynne Boisvert, will lead an art activity for families to create fun, wearable garments form upcycled clothing.

The Northampton DPW’s ReUse Committee is sponsoring a free “Kid’s Stuff Exchange” at Smith Vocational High School this coming Saturday March 9th, 2013.  Pre-registration is required to participate from 8-11am, opening up to the general public from 11am-12noon.

This swap meet will allow local families to exchange clothing, toys, books and sporting goods in good condition at no cost.  Participants might find almost anything for kids ages 0-12 except baby gear (car seats, strollers, cribs), stuff with parts missing (puzzles, games), items with possible cutting/choking/lead hazards or over-sized items (play structures).  From 11am-12noon, the general public is welcome to come and take whatever they can use.  At noon, any remaining items will be donated to the Salvation Army.

Kids will be welcome.  Childcare will not be provided, but representatives from the Artisans of WMASS, Northampton’s Early Childhood Program, and  other local reuse & craft artists will offer free “make & take” art activities for ages 4+ (with adult) at the Kid’s Stuff Exchange from 9am–12Noon:

  • Lou Leelyn: Transform plastic trash into flowers & accessories
  • Aviva Sieber & daughter Tali: Create sculptures from household recyclables
  • Jenny Lisa Kass: Melt old crayons into fun, new shapes
  • Zoe Ma: Make personal creations from First Night buttons
  • MaryLynne Boisvert: Create fun, wearable garments from up-cycled clothing

Space is limited, and participants will receive more information when they register.  Signing up is easy!  Just provide a full name, mailing address, daytime phone number and email address by phone: 413-587-1059; or by email: kbouquillon@northamptonma.gov.  No dealers, please.  More info is available on Facebook www.facebook.com/NorthamptonReUse and on the DPW’s website www.northamptonma.gov/dpw/Recycling/reuse.

Hilltown Families 3rd Annual Board Game Swap

Hilltown Families
Community Board Game Swap

A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for friends and family too. Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to everyone.

On Saturday, December 1st, 2012 from 9:30-10:30am, Hilltown Families is sponsoring a free Board Game Swap in the community room at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA. All community members are invited to bring in complete board games they’d like to swap. New this year, incomplete games are welcomed and will be donated to the Northampton DPW’s ReUse Committee.

Swapping board games with other families gives the community a chance to come together and discover new games while rejuvenating their collection of board games. Having new board games to explore with our kids opens up opportunities for families to spend time together, while allowing children to practice skills and concepts.  Puzzles and card games are welcomed too.  Any leftover complete games, puzzles and card games will be donated to the Meekins Library Holiday Market.

What: Hilltown Families Board Game Swap
Where: Meekins Library Community Room (Route 9, Williamsburg, MA)
When: Saturday, December 1st, 2012
Time: 9:30-10:30am
Cost: Free
Who: All are welcomed!

Hilltown Families 2nd Annual Board Game Swap

Community Board Game Swap

A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for friends and family too! Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to everyone.

On Saturday, December 3rd from 9:30-10:30am, Hilltown Families is sponsoring a free Board Game Swap in the community room at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA. All community members are invited to bring in complete board games they’d like to swap.

Swapping board games with other families gives the community a chance to come together and discover new games while rejuvenating their collection of board games. Having new board games to explore with our kids opens up opportunities for families to spend time together, while allowing children to practice skills and concepts.

What: Hilltown Families Board Game Swap
Where: Meekins Library Community Room (Williamsburg, MA)
When: Saturday, December 3rd, 2011
Time: 9:30-10:30am
Cost: Free

Hilltown Families Board Game Swap


On Saturday, December 18th from 9-10am, Hilltown Families is sponsoring a free Board Game Swap in the community room at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA. All community members are invited to bring in complete board games they’d like to swap.

Swapping board games with other families gives the community a chance to come together and discover new games while rejuvenating their collection of board games. Having new board games to explore with our kids opens up opportunities for families to spend time together, while allowing children to practice skills and concepts.

You can also bring in a donation for the Northampton Survival Center, Hilltown Pantry, and/or Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society … and do a little shopping at the Meekins Market.

What: Hilltown Families Board Game Swap
Where: Meekins Library Community Room (Williamsburg, MA)
When: Saturday, December 18th, 2010
Time: 9-10am
Cost: Free

Green Mama: A Brilliant Way to Upcycle Your Kids’ Clothes

Hilltown Families Contributing Writer

Solutions for the Fashionista’s in Our Lives

Thirteen-month-old Kylee knows that stripes are making a comeback this season. (Photo Credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)

My niece is a mini-fashionista. She has an outfit (or two) to wear for every day of the month (at least) before my sister even has to think about running a load of wash.

Wait a minute. Strike that. Unless my little fashion-forward niece (did I mention she’s only 13 months old) wants those clothes to curdle in her hamper, there is a little washing that needs to happen — but you do get my point. Don’t you?

Kids today have clothes, clothes and more clothes; many of them more stylish than their sweat pant-wearing, jeans-buying, comfort-seeking moms and dads. The problem? Many of those clothes occupying their overfilled closets and broken bureau drawers have never seen the light of day.

Come on all you moms out there. Admit it. Most of us have donated an item or two to the Goodwill, a friend or another worthy person or charity in need of clothes for their children with the original price tags still on them. I know I bought Kylee — that’s my niece — a Patriot’s onesie that for some reason or another she never wore. (Yes, my dear sister I just outed you online!)

Not to mention the money we parents are spending on outfitting our little divas or models-in-training. And just wait until they reach their “preteen” years.

My 11-year-old twins — one boy, one girl — are all about looking stylish. My son tried on shirt after shirt after shirt before beginning middle school this fall, each time asking his twin sister, “Does this look cool?”

My daughter McKenna had me toting her all around the county to find a sporting goods store that carried basketball sneakers that were stylish enough for her newfound “divalicious” tastes. Seriously? They’re basketball sneakers for God’s sake: last year’s sneakers still looked brand-new and if they wouldn’t cause blisters or her toes to permanently curl or resemble something right out of a Chinese binding ritual I would have made her continue to wear them.

I know I’m not alone with these concerns. Our kids are growing up and out of their clothes faster than many of us parents can get our busy selves to the stores or click the mouse on to our favorite online department store. But thanks to the new online company thredUP we now have an answer to our clothing prayers.

The company established in the spring of 2009 is the brainchild of James Reinhart, Oliver Lubin and Chris Homer based in Cambridge, Mass., and advised by current Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

The company is by far one of the greenest, most environmentally-friendly solutions I’ve seen for parents looking to keep their kids clothed, in the styles (and sizes) they want all at bargain prices, too. It’s virtually free!

Here’s how it works. ThredUP eliminates (or at least significantly decreases) one’s need to head to the department stores every other month for new clothing for the ever-growing children in our lives. The company does this by offering a way to “shop” for the sizes and type of clothing you want or need for your children. Essentially the company is a one-stop second-hand store that takes the hassle out of second-hand shopping by doing the work for you. Basically, parents can exchange full boxes of kids’ clothing, in the sizes they want on the company’s website (www.thredup.com) without ever leaving the house.

Kylee making a fashion statement in her JLo-like leisure suit and snuggling with her Aunt Kelly. (Photo credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)

How do they do it? Parents find other parents on the site who have the sizes they want or who want the sizes they have. Parents looking for clothing — browsing by size, season and gender — pick a box of clothes for their children from the thredUP site. (Approximately 15 articles of children’s clothing fits in each box.) Parents pay only a $5 shipping charge for the box. Parents looking to donate gently-used clothes list their clothes and sizes online and when your box is picked you send it free of charge to its new owner via thredUP’s home pick-up and delivery option. Parents also can find a favorite sender and receive notifications when they list new boxes.

This idea is absolutely brilliant. Not only are parents finding a low-cost way to keep their children in the styles they want, but there are also a number of added environmental and overall parental benefits to the system.

According to thredUP’s press packet their system helps “Keep it Green”: “Over 20 billion pounds of clothing and textiles are tossed into landfills each year,” their press release said, “ThredUP helps combat the waste, encouraging families to “upcycle” kids’ clothing.”

ThredUP also claims to eliminate the number of hours many parents spend “selling kids’ clothing one painfully tedious item at a time” via eBay or consignment stores. In just 10 minutes, without uploading pictures or leaving their couches, parents can get rid of the clothing cluttering up their hallways, closets, attics and more.

ThredUP even allows you to send care packages to military families stationed domestically or overseas.

Currently I have two garbage bags full of items that no longer fit my 9-year-old son, who also no longer fits into his older brother’s hand-me-downs. They wear the same sized shirts and in another month or two their pant sizes will be the same size, too. That can get pretty pricey, not to mention the 11-year-old fashion diva living in the room next door. With her eyes on brand-name items I need to take on more freelance work just to pay for her wardrobe or better yet, she needs to get a job!

Or we can just find another young fashionista to swap with. It won’t be long until you see my name on thredUP’s “Super Swapper” or “Top Rockstar” list.

As for my favorite little 13-month-old fashion icon … You can bet Miss Kylee that I’ll be turning your Mommy onto this site very soon.

To learn more about thredUP and how the company works visit their site at www.thredup.com.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Bevan McIlquham

Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, two black labs, a cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate in the Berkshires where she especially enjoys writing family- and education-related articles and her monthly “Parent to Parent” column. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her work published by Wee Ones online family magazine. Her new blog “Green Mama” chronicles her journey as a “green” parent in every sense of the word — from her parenting naiveté to living greener. When not writing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games. kwm229@msn.com

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