Pleasant (reuse) surprises

Since March, I’ve been sewing face masks. It’s a way I can be helpful during the pandemic and put my skills to use. Mask making and online sewing research had me circling around quilting. Finally, I took the plunge and tried it for myself.

Quilting has been a positive mental break for me. I’m learning new techniques and thinking of ways I can be more sustainable with my fabric choices. After sewing a fun rainbow quilt, I ended up with scraps that I usually would have thrown away, except this morning, I thought of sewing them together to make face masks.

Turns out, they’re my favorite masks I’ve made to date! I’m glad I saved my scraps and landed on the perfect use for them.

In honor of National Reuse Day on October 20, I challenge you to reuse something you’d normally discard. Get creative and have fun!


Green choices for your home office

Working from home has a unique set of perks and challenges. You aren’t surrounded by coworkers, but you also don’t have your typical office tools close at hand. I’ve had to get creative in my space but I’ve been able to do it with a few things repurposed from around my home.

Monitor riser
Oh, wow, have I Googled this one. There are beautiful wooden rises and clear acrylic risers for the minimalist. The best riser I’ve found so far was borrowed from my bookshelf. (And to think I was told I’d never use those yearbooks ever again.) When I need to adjust the height, I can easily add or remove a book.

Recycle bin
This is one office item that you can take for granted but easy to remedy. You’re more likely to recycle if the bin is available so start using one today! Instead of buying a new recycle bin, grab the trash can from a little-used guest bath or simply turn your trash can into a recycle bin. If you have to trash something, you’ll be forced to stand up and move. Bonus points if you can think of a more sustainable product swap on the way back to your desk.

Stand-up desk
I’m not one of those that needs a standing desk, but I do like the option to stretch my legs and spine. One of the items that has made it easier to work while standing is an angled lap desk, the kind that are designed to let you work from the sofa or bed. It gives me the perfect amount of extra height to work from my laptop while standing at the kitchen island or even on top of the dryer. Don’t knock it until you try it! Front loading dryers are really tall and I bet no one bothers you in the laundry room!


My favorite (mostly free) productivity tools

Part of living a more sustainable lifestyle is making sure that the work you are doing is actually sustainable. Burnout is real and in my case, it creeps up on me. When I’m organized and letting technology help me, it’s easier to feel in control and on top of things, keeping burnout at bay.


When I was in sales, I used the email tracking feature all day but Gmelius is so much more than that. Schedule your email sends, create templates, and set alerts for yourself to follow up on emails. If you think you can’t use templates outside of sales, think again. I created templates for sending invoice copies and my expenses for approval. Gmelius launched sequences to take even more work off your plate and allows for different responses based on the actions of the recipient, as in one email response for an opened email and another follow up if the email wasn’t opened. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m excited to check it out. Of my favorite productivity tools, this is the only one I pay for. However, there is a free version and since they are adding more and more to the free version, I’m going to go that route when my subscription expires.


This is my favorite app to organize everything from large projects to my daily to-do list. Once you have projects set up, you can add images, files, notes, and subtasks The app is even more powerful when you add your coworkers to your projects. You can limit what projects your coworkers have access to in case you like to add your personal items to projects like I do. The free version has everything I need and there is an app you can download to your phone to access your projects when you’re out of the office.


An oldie but a goodie. I’m a big note taker but sometimes my phone is all that I have available. It’s easy to use and you can’t beat how accessible it is. I work from a PC but let’s me access my notes when I need them.


This is a free chrome extension that lets you enter in a goal for each day and to do items . Every time you open a new tab, you see a different beautiful image and your priority task for the day, reminding you to stay focused. It definitely keeps me from opening a tab and getting lost in a wikipedia rabbit hole.


Sustainable fashion shops in Austin

I used to be a clotheshorse. Some still might consider me to be one. When I worked in e-commerce for an online fashion boutique, I had an amazing discount. On top of it, I was one of the first to see each product as I was responsible for editing the photos and adding them to the website. That’s cute, add to cart. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to curb my consumption and step away from fast fashion.

I no longer shop to “get my fix” and I’m more intentional about what I add to my closet. I look for natural materials like cotton and silk and avoid poly – polychiffon, polysatin, polyester. Sure this means I need to drag out the steamer more often but it reduces microplastics when washing and my clothes last longer.

I like shopping locally so I can try on the piece and make sure it will work for my body and to see the construction quality. Austin is a casual city but you can find some polished pieces that would be right at home in a NYC closet.


A high-end consignment store with labels like Isabel Marant, Equipment, Mother Denim, and more. The store is beautifully merchandised and the assortment skews contemporary. The prices are higher than most consignment stores, however, you are getting quality pieces that show little to no wear. This is one of my favorite stores for work wear and shoes. If you feel overwhelmed about where to start, ask the sales team to help you with pieces in your size. They know what’s in the store at any given moment and are great at pulling together looks.


This isn’t a consignment or resale store though you do need to shop it like it is one. You have to go in with an open mind. UAL specializes in purchasing samples from designer showrooms and I hear they purchase items that did not sell from stores like Bloomingdale’s. This store is the last stop in the retail cycle of stores but you often can find clothes that are just hitting stores and some great staples like classic tops and sweaters. They carry everything from shoes, accessories, and apparel to home goods and beauty products.

Baubles & Beads

This consignment store is a more traditional consignment or resale store and is no frills. But you will find great labels from brands like Kate Spade, Theory, and even newer labels like Tularosa. They carry shoes and accessories as well but the apparel is where you should focus. Check the store hours before you go as they are not open as late as most stores.


What list is complete without Goodwill? In Austin, my favorites are on Lake Austin Boulevard and South Lamar. The Lake Austin Boulevard store is filled with natural light (great for seeing what you really look like in clothes) and is great for finding lightly used workout apparel from Nike, Lululemon, and Under Armour. The South Lamar store is surrounded by a neighborhood of young professionals. You can find great casual outfits and accessories like beaded handbags. One of my best finds was a BHLDN dress for $15 that still retails for $198. I was able to wear it to my sister’s wedding in December!

Image via Austin Monthly.