Have you ever heard the saying:
Use it Up
Wear it Out
Make it Do
This is my grandma. Her name is Sylvia. She is 88 years old this year (and she still lives by herself!). She's an amazing lady and beyond teaching me the value of family, she was the one who taught me the above saying. The saying is cross-stitched and hanging in her guest bedroom. I'm going to specifically request it when she departs this world (hopefully not for a long time still)...
She lives by it too and while I think it can get a little out of hand (i.e. pack-ratish) and can create situations where you might go a little overboard (like having gas masks from the 1940's and cans of beans about the same age...I LOVE YOU Grandma!) it's an important concept and one we can learn a lot from. I will never forget stories my Grandma told me about times during the War and the Great Depression in Canada where they coveted cardboard and would do anything and everything with it - including using it as shoe liners when the soles of their shoes had holes in them. Another story she always tells (yes, she's not as sharp as she used to be!) is about when jackets wore out, they would un-pick all of the seams, turn the jacket inside out and then re-stitch the whole thing together again.
W-O-W! I remember thinking - while we do not have to go to such extremes in our normal lives an important lesson is the limitless creativity that is borne from constraints. They didn't have access to all of the resources we have now so they had to USE IT UP, WEAR IT OUT, MAKE IT DO and DO WITHOUT.
I think this mentality is one that we often forget in our modern society. Just think about your life right now if you applied just a little bit that saying to it... would anything change? What would you do differently? Maybe you are living close to it already?
Not that we have such extreme situations as when Sylvia was growing up, nor am I advocating the mass hoarding of cardboard.... but you have to admit, if you are trying to save money and lessen your impact on the planet as a family, that handy little saying might just help you re-evaluate.
What can you use up?
What can you wear out?
How can you make it do?
What can you do without?
The Green Families Guru