Monday, November 29, 2010

Make Do With What You Have

"Make do and mend" was the British government's slogan to encourage its citizens to ration carefully, re-use and not waste items during World War 2 and the difficult years following.

Now that we've experienced what's being called the Great Recession, I'm thinking a lot more about the items I already own and scratching things I want off my list. I'm still a shopaholic and probably can never stop myself from buying scented candles, intriguing books, lovely bath gels and tasty foods. But when it comes to bigger purchases, I'm now looking for ways to do without.

I don't need any new clothes other than the occasional gown for whatever specific wonderful event crops up. I haven't changed size (for better or for worse) in the past four years. I work at home, so my clothing doesn't need to be all that fancy anyways. I can wear the same nice Alfani blouse when I need to dress up a pair of my velvet pants, I can wear one of my several lovely black dresses to holiday parties, and I have more than enough T-shirts and "errand clothes."

I bought a new inexpensive Eddie Bauer fleecy jacket to wear when I'm walking the dogs and can't wear a too-hot coat. Because I'll take good care of it, that jacket will last me a few years. (I know I'll get tired of looking at myself in it and get a new jacket in a couple years though!)

And my friends are not the type of people who care (or even notice) if I wear the same lovely dress to a party in December when I already wore it to another evening event in November!

"Make Do and Mend" Poster, on eBay

Until something breaks (my refrigerator is many years old and has broken before; and my dishwasher is old too) I don't need to buy any major appliances. (And I'll try to get those repaired rather than buying new ones whenever possible). My Dyson vacuum is the best vacuum I could ever want for my needs, and I take good care of it to prevent it from breaking.

Make Do and Mend booklet, on eBay

I want to take good care of the items I already have, not only so I don't have to buy new ones, but so that I appreciate my good fortune in life.

I take good care of my car because I'm so glad to have one and not have to take the bus everywhere. Not only do I keep the car maintenanced and avoid spilling things in it, but I also wash it, clean the interior, and keep it free from dirt and litter and clutter. (That's hard work to maintain when you have two grown Labrador dogs with muddy paws climbing in and out of it!)

My couches are only eight years old, so it will be a few years before it's time to update my home decor with new ones. I can swap out fun accent pillows seasonally to make things look new and fresh in my living room. So for now I have to take very good care of my couches - dusting their wood feet, not spilling on them, cleaning up spills promptly, and laundering the slipcovers carefully several times a year.

I take good care of my old laptop, because I can't afford a new one. So I take care not to lose it, drop it, step on it, sit on it, or spill on it.

I'm not good at sewing at all, so the area I'm going to fail in is mending things. When I buy a $6 T-shirt at Target and it tears, I'm probably going to throw it out and just cough up the $6 to buy another one. I can afford it. But I'll be careful to only replace torn items that I really need - maybe I have enough T-shirts that I don't need a new one when something tears.

I covet new dishes and kitchen implements, but I need to do more to use my existing gorgeous dishes I already own. And I have more than enough kitchen projects to keep me busy and happy without buying new gadgets. I can always borrow my best friend's ravioli maker if I really am going to expend energy having fun learning how to make ravioli.

I'll probably never be able to fully mend my naughty shopaholic ways, but I'll make a conscious effort to use, enjoy, and appreciate the items I already have in my life and in my home.

What are some things you need to appreciate more and take better care of, and what are some things you think you want but can do without?

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