How to Have a Sustainable Wardrobe

Spend less and enjoy more from Go Gingham

Skirt that was a dress Go Gingham

Here’s how to have a sustainable wardrobe: buy fewer items and wear the ones you have for a longer period of time. That’s the simple answer. Having a sustainable wardrobe is easier for men but more difficult for women.

Repurposed dress Go Gingham

Buying fewer items and keeping them longer is easier for men because their clothing is better made and is meant to last longer. Women’s clothing – while more expensive – isn’t as well made and not meant to last as a long. Women are expected to change styles more often – and don’t get me started on all of the accessorizing that needs to go with the more expensive clothing. Buying quality well made women’s clothing is smart but it is more expensive. What can we do?

Jeans turned into capris Go Gingham

How to Have a Sustainable Wardrobe

While I can’t control what clothing designers and manufacturers have for sale, I can control what I’m willing to buy from them. My solution? I shop-second hand. By finding second-hand or consignment stores that have quality, stylish resale items in my area, I can buy beautiful, well made clothing without it costing a fortune.

What do I look for? Cashmere (which I love) and anything gingham (which I also love). I look for designer names that I know are quality and well made but are expensive. If I’m going shopping with friends or my family, we hit second-hand stores, first, and skip the mall.

If you can mend clothing – whether it’s what you own or you buy an item second-hand that needs mending – you can have really nice clothes for years to come and save a bundle of money. There’s no need to be a super-seamstress to make simple changes or mending to clothes. Sewers know how easy it is to sew on a button or shorten or hem pants. Learn how to do a few basic sewing stitches or mending and then try one of these easy projects:

Dress = top + skirt Go Gingham

  1. How to remake sweat pants :: There’s no fun in buying fancy sweats, is there? OK, not for me. Follow this easy tuturoial and find out how I turned sweat pants into yoga plants.
  2. Up-cycled dress becomes a skirt + top :: This fabric from this dress caught my eye but it was too big. With scissors and elastic and a little sewing, it’s a great top and skirt.
  3. Jeans too short? Make capris :: These were perfectly fine jeans but a little too short. My daughter had bought the jeans herself so was happy to extend the life of them.
  4. Skinny jeans? Yes, please :: More altering of jeans but this time copying a pair of jeans that fit and cutting down the pair that was too wide. A serger sewing machine helps but this project can be done with a regular machine, too.
  5. Need a smaller waistband :: Jeans or pants with a waistband that’s a little too big can easily be taken in with a tuck – or two – and then a stitch. No belt needed.
  6. Worn out t-shirts? No problem :: Use those worn out t-shirts and make mop covers! No need to ever buy a throw-away cloth for mopping floors. Old t-shirts are excellent for this project.
  7. Make a cape :: Who doesn’t love a cape? OK, well not everyone but this cape and little purse came from two prom dresses and were perfect for a winter coat substitute. My daughter loved this cape and now the neighbor girls are enjoying it.
Winter cape with bag from prom dresses Go Gingham
This winter cape with bag is made from two prom dresses. It was perfect for a winter coat alternative.

Having fewer clothing items means there’s less to take care, too. Wearing what’s in the closet or mending is an easy way to save resources and money. It’s sustainable for the environment and the wallet!

What do you like to mend? What’s your best find from a second-hand store?

For a Healthier Home, Change Cleaning Supplies

Home cleaning glass bottle Go Gingham

ReThinking Laundry and Cleaning Supplies

Over several years, we have switched out all of our laundry detergents, dish washing detergent, dish soap, window cleaner, grease cutter cleaner, gritty scrub, hand soap, and shampoo. While this may sound like lots of work (it’s actually not) the result has been a much healthier home and family.

While I do make several cleaners, I also buy some products from companies who I trust. But how did I know who to trust? The resource I use for all of our cleaning and consumer products – and before I buy anything – is the Environmental Working Group ( They are a non-profit, bipartisan group who rate products based on the effects they have on our health and the environment. Products who get top scores on EWG’s website are those who list what ingredients are in their cleaning supplies and what risks they pose. These risks are to our health as well as environmental.

Simple cleaning supplies Go Gingham

While I thought we’d save money on buying those products – and we have – our family is physically healthier. My husband’s asthma and allergies have vanished. That has saved use a ton of money on prescription costs! We’re also¬† generating a lot less waste because I reuse glass vinegar bottles for our cleaning supplies. I’m trying to buy less plastic so reusing is important.

Using fewer chemicals is better for the environment, too. Water connects us all and the health of the ocean touches everyone. When we pour something down the drain or put something on our lawns to kill weeds, it all eventually ends up in the ocean. Even facial scrub contains very small plastic balls to add grit and scrubbing action. Fish can’t tell the difference between plastic balls and food.

Here’s my attitude: If a company isn’t willing to state or list what ingredients they put into their cleaning supplies or other consumer products, then I won’t buy their items. Consumers have the power to make a difference with their purchasing dollars but we have to make the effort. The future of our planet and the quality of our oceans depend on how we treat it today. We all have to do our part.

Changing cleaning supplies Go Gingham

Changing our cleaning supplies and consumer products has changed our lives. We’re healthier and have generated a lot less waste. We all need to think about our purchases and ask more from companies.

Do you make your own cleaning supplies?

Stay Healthy and Fit by Exercising Outside All Winter

Winter Workout Go Gingham

Winter Workout Go Gingham

Baby, it’s cold outside, isn’t it? And, when it’s cold outside, I don’t always feel like going out and exercising. When it’s dark, rainy, and wet, I know what’s coming: me being cold and wet. To stay healthy and fit, I still exercise outside all winter but it’s hard! Here’s how I get out the door – either running or walking – all winter long.

Training for half marathon with Go Gingham

Stay Healthy and Fit by Exercising Outside All Winter

  1. Get it set: Get workout clothes ready the night before and put them on first thing in the morning. When the alarm goes off, get going on the walk, run, yoga class or hula hooping before any excuses arise. If my workout routine gets done in the morning, I do it. Later in the day, I have too many excuses.
  2. Get a partner: Working out with a partner, friend, or group means you’re less likely to skip. When someone is waiting, don’t let them down. Grab your workout gear and go. When my Wednesday morning walking crew shows up at our scheduled time, I know they’re expecting me to be there. We love to catch up with each other on our weekly walks! We use walking sticks and they’re super easy to make.
  3. Eat real food: By keeping healthy, whole foods on hand, when hunger strikes, junk food isn’t an option. Keep containers of crunchy carrots and fresh celery around so there’s something to munch. I have all the will power in the world, as long as it’s not in my house. I don’t buy what I don’t want to eat – or have my family eat.
  4. Make a plan: Weekly meal planning (here are 11 reasons to meal plan) gives a guideline for what healthy meals are getting cooked – and what healthy foods need to bought at the farmer’s market or grocery store. Evenings go smoother if I know what we’re having for dinner. If we have a plan, we eat healthier at home – skipping fast food restaurants. Added bonus? Cook extra and enjoy a healthy, tasty lunch the next day.
  5. Hang it up: We have a laundry room sink where all the wet, muddy running and walking gear gets hung above. Wet workout clothes need to drip and sometimes, the gear is sopping wet! I keep hangers for the dirty and wet workout gear to hang on because when it’s dry, it can get worn again. No need to wash workout gear after one wear. Once a week washing or perhaps if it’s really smelly (and I mean really) otherwise it gets worn again.
  6. Don’t buy expensive workout attire: Nothing is water proof (ok, except perhaps rubberized canvas but it’s difficult to run in!) so don’t spend money on expensive workout attire. My running and walking gear is mostly second-hand and works great! Whatever you wear outside will get wet so plan to hang it up. Embrace the rain or snow but do wear a baseball cap. Water hitting my face can drives me nuts so a cap it is.

Training for half marathon with Go Gingham

Keep working out in this winter. It will feel so good when it’s done, I promise!

What does your winter workout routine consist of? What’s your least favorite winter weather?

5 Tips for Green and Healthy Holidays Without Going Broke

Green and Healthy Holidays Go Gingham

The average cost of Christmas spending is up to about $800 this year. That is a staggering amount of money for one season. How can you have fun and be festive during the holidays but not go broke? First, think sustainable when giving gifts. Next, follow these 5 tips for enjoying the holidays while being green and healthy. Added bonus? They all save money, too.

Green and Healthy Holidays Go Gingham

  1. Game night :: Charades, anyone? What about Taboo? Apples to Apples? Yes, it’s called game night and playing a fun game with friends doesn’t cost a thing. Serve our very favorite brownies – Betsy’s Best Brownies – and a little cup of ice cream. Nothing is tastier. {Here’s our family’s list of favorite games.}
  2. Go natural :: Use decorations from outdoors to decorate. Decorating with nature is free – and my favorite! Everything looks pretty in a vase or bowl. Best part? When you’re done into the compost bin it goes. {Here are sustainable holiday decorations.}
  3. Box wine :: Before the wine snob in you turns up your nose at this, just try it. Less waste, no cork, recyclable packaging – and a great value! Check out Franzia wine – I like the white and my husband likes the cab sav.
  4. Make popcorn :: Packaged organic popcorn from the store is a big waste of money – and packaging! Buy popcorn by the pound in the bulk section and spend a fraction of the cost on the bulk than on the already popped packaged stuff. Flavor it however you’d like. I like Bob’s Red Mill organic popcorn (from the bulk bin section, of course!) and when it goes on sale, we stock up. {Here’s how to make popcorn without a microwave.}
  5. Have a potluck party :: It’s a busy time of year so don’t wear yourself out by doing everything. Enjoy the holidays and have a potluck party! Invite friends, assign dishes and/or recipes and have a party! We love potluck parties so much we have a potluck dinner group based on rotating houses and contributing dishes and drinks. Don’t let cost or the idea of too much work stop you from entertaining – share instead. {Here’s how to start a potluck dinner group.}

Christmas Decorations Advent Wreath Go Gingham

The holiday season doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Follow these 5 easy tips and not only will you have zero regrets when the season is over (and when the credit card statement arrives!) but you’ll have had fun, too. Don’t get caught up in the frenzy. Slow down and have a glass of wine – from the box, of course.

Green and Healthy Holidays Go Gingham

Having fun with family and friends, enjoying more, wasting less, eating healthy foods and snacks – and saving money. These are all my favorites!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy the holidays and save?

Go Gingham related links:

Quick and easy holiday decorating: very easy
Green holiday living: generate less waste this holiday season
Holiday attire that’s all used clothing – frugal and fancy to wear!
Hostess gift ideas that are frugal and fancy!

10 Sustainable Gift Ideas

Decorating with Nature Go Gingham

Pine Cones Go Gingham

My holiday shopping was done before Thanksgiving. What’s the secret to being done so early? Not buying stuff. Give sustainable gifts to the people on your holiday shopping list and you’ll find yourself done with your shopping, too.

What are sustainable gifts? Items that have a purpose. They are gifts that encourage growth, inspire, and result in less waste. You can still wrap up sustainable gifts in pretty paper with ribbons. Just be sure and use items have already served a purpose – maps, newspaper, fabric scraps.

Gift and Reused Tag Go Gingham

10 Sustainable Gift Ideas

These won’t break the holiday budget and they’ll get used all through the year.

Continue reading “10 Sustainable Gift Ideas”

How to Have a Zero Waste Holiday Season

Sustainable Holidays Go Gingham

It’s that time of year again – when the shopping, spending, and wrapping frenzy kicks in! How can we embrace the holiday season and still keep waste to a minimum? Have a zero waste holiday season, of course!

Decorate with Fruit Go Gingham

Not only will there be less waste generated but money will be saved as well. I call that win-win! Here are 7 easy tips for a sustainable and zero waste holiday season.

Continue reading “How to Have a Zero Waste Holiday Season”

5 Things You Should Do Instead of Shopping on Thanksgiving

Celebrate Thanksgiving Simply from Go Gingham

It’s too bad Thanksgiving has turned into such a shopping holiday. There aren’t special gifts for Thanksgiving or even particular candy with turkey wrappers made for it. It’s just a day for giving thanks – and eating really good food!

It used to be the best holiday – and one that everyone celebrates – until it became a shopping holiday. Don’t let shopping ruin a perfectly good holiday! Here are 5 fun (and inexpensive!) things to do over the Thanksgiving holiday instead of shopping.

Celebrate Thanksgiving Simply from Go Gingham

5 Things You Should Do Instead of Shopping on Thanksgiving
  1. Go for a hike :: Get outside and go for a hike! Breathe in the crisp fall air and get some exercise. Walking or hiking helps us connect with nature. Make walking sticks like mine out of old ski poles and get an upper body workout, too.
  2. Ride a bike :: Don’t leave the bike riding for the summer! Fall is a gorgeous time to bike and admire the leaves changing. Watch out for wet leaves – they are slippery.
  3. Dig in the garden :: Dig out those tomato plants and plant a cover crop. Skip the gym and rake leaves instead! Raking leaves is another favorite upper body workout of mine.
  4. Cozy in :: Rent movies or get several from the library (yes, libraries have movies, too!) and cozy in for a movie marathon. Kick off the holiday season with some family favorites – “Elf,” “Princess Bride,” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” are a few of our favorites.
  5. Serve :: Volunteering does wonders. Helping at a shelter by serving a meal or lending a hand to someone in need is helpful. It always makes me feel better (and makes my problems seem minuscule!) when I can help someone else. Even the simple task of raking leaves in a neighbor’s yard makes me feel good. Serving others and volunteering is good for everyone.

Garden instead of shop Go Gingham

Stores are open for business on Thanksgiving day and opening earlier in the morning for Black Friday shopping. What happened to the holiday? Gobbled up by retail shopping trends and consumer spending. Don’t let shopping get in the way of enjoying Thanksgiving. Just give thanks and save your money instead.

How are you spending Thanksgiving? Are you getting outside or shopping?

Go Gingham related links:

Oyster and sausage stuffing for Thanksgiving – it’s the best!
Celebrate Thanksgiving more simply and enjoy the holidays more
Cloth napkins for Thanksgiving that are made from an old skirt
A Thanksgiving tablecloth made with quilting techniques
Pumpkin spice cake would also make a nice dessert at Thanksgiving
Homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving – make it the day before!

More related links:

Shopping? Consider Little Boxes – A Different Way to Shop this holiday season. It’s all local + small – in Portland. Don’t live in Portland? Start a shopping revolt where you live. Support small businesses! Also, REI is another business to support. They’re closing their stores for Thanksgiving and Black Friday – unheard of – and encouraging their employees to spend time with their families and get outside. And, they’re paying their employees for the day, too. They’ve got their own hashtag #OptOutside and are counting down to Black Friday. Love it!