“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”

Growing up in Finland, one of the important life skills I learned was darning a woolen sock using a wooden ‘mushroom’ as a form, weaving wool thread criss-cross from side to side with a big needle.  With fiercely cold winters, woolen socks were essential to keeping our toes warm, and we really wore them out and subsequently had to mend them before they were outgrown.   A hand-knitted woolen sock was worth the time and effort to mend it.

Just think how much money and natural resources could be saved if we all took the time to mend or fix even one piece of clothing once a month or even once a year.  I’ve been able to get many more years’ worth of life breathed into well-worn shoes by having them re-soled, well-loved boots by getting new heels, or quality but out of style clothes by getting them altered.

If the original use or purpose is no longer an option for a piece of clothing or other item, take a good look and try to think creatively what other uses you could get out of it.  Old jeans can be made into a purse or a quilt, a favorite sweater can be fashioned into a throw pillow, old fleece blankets formed into “snuggies”, and so forth.  Same applies to any items and possessions around you – rather than throw them out, can you get them repaired or repurposed?

If you don’t feel like you possess the creativity, ask your more creative friends for ideas. My New Year’s resolution is to tackle the pile of mending sitting in the corner of my office.  I don’t watch TV, but I could see mending become a decent excuse to spend a few hours watching a good movie, while doing something useful.

You can search the Green Spot, Craigslist, Angie’s List and other online resources (or even good old yellow pages) for local businesses that specialize in appliance, bicycle, computer etc. repairs or clothing or home textile alterations.

  1. That is how people lived and operated ALL THE TIME until very recently. We’ve gotten so disposable in the past few decades. I don’t quite get it.

  2. Having discretionary funds bred the concept ‘throw it out’. However, many of us were trained to fix and reuse items to save for purchasing one’s first car or property. It is up to parents to choose what concepts to promote within their family unit. Then up to the young person to make decisions using their intelligence and interests.

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