Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without

This saying in one of my goals.  Fortunately, my family is healthy and my husband has a job so we are able to meet our needs, purchase high quality food, and keep our house warm in the winter and cool in the summer heat.  We also get to have many, many luxuries, like a Netflix subscription, new items of clothes, craft supplies for the kids, and much more.

That being said, I still loathe waste and I hate to throw things away when they could still be useful.  I’m convinced that much of the products made today are not made to last the way that household items did 40+ years ago.  About 10 years ago, my sister and I were vacuuming my Grannee’s basement for her and she wanted us to use her old Electrolux vacuum cleaner.  To put things in context, her “new” Electrolux vacuum was from 1955!  Her “old” one was from 1935, but was refurbished by Electrolux in 1955 when she bought the “new” and bigger Electrolux model.  Both vacuum’s still worked well.  They were bagless, canister vacuums that you just dragged around behind you while you cleaned.

I am constantly surprised by how often I think I will  need to throw something away only to find that it can be used for many more years.  One example: my laundry basket.  We have only one laundry basket which provides a lot of incentive to put laundry away quickly.  I bought the basket from Wal-mart in 2006 and it has been used several times a week since then.  Last year, the handle separated from the rest of the basket and my first thought was “Crap! Now I’ll need to spend money to buy another one!”  Because I hate throwing things away or spending money, my second thought was “make it do.” I grabbed some duct tape and lashed it back together.  It still works fine and will for many more years to come.

Some other ways we have tried to use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without:

  • When our toaster broke, we chose not to replace it
  • Lots of minor sewing repairs for clothes
  • Repurpose old shirts into rags, tops for jelly jars,  or play clothes
  • Wear clothes until they literally fall apart
  • Not upgrading our giant tube TV to a flatscreen, even when family has offered to buy one for us as a gift
  • Went without furniture in our living room until a family member bought new items and offered us their used ones
  • Use junk mail and any one-sided-paper as our printer paper (great for airline boarding passes, online printable coupons, anything really!)
  • Used an old peanut butter pail for holding kitchen scraps for compost
  • Re-using ziploc sandwich bags and storage bags–either reusing them a number of times for the same item (like pb sandwiches for lunches) or washing them between uses (for freezing things like applesauce, cooked beans)
  • Using a really old coffee maker that is stained from hard use.  Both of our moms hate this thing and are constantly offering us a new one.  We politely decline as this one works fine for us!

Once you get started trying to make it do, it is almost like a game and we get a lot of satisfaction at seeing how we can save money and avoid waste.

John holding my taped laundry basket handle.

John holding my taped laundry basket handle.


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