Making do and mending is my favourite part of the 1940’s propaganda designed to encourage everyone to do their bit for the war effort. It’s so simple and so obvious. If clothing and money are in short supply it stands to reason that you make what your hard earned cash has paid for, last as long as possible. It’s a no-brainer and you would think that in our current economically dry climate more people would be embracing this ethos. For the most part people are, but seemingly not as many as we are led to believe.
A brief conversation I was party to a few weeks before Christmas made me realise some people are just too lazy to make the most of what they have, even if they’re on a low income.
When discussing shoes, and where we buy them, a friend of mine declared that she needed new ones because her heels were worn. “Take them to be re-heeled” says I. “It’s easier to just buy a new pair and chuck the old ones away” she replies. At that point, while I’m internally admonishing her, other people start to agree with her. I’m stunned. These people are the generation above me and so, are the same age as my Mum. Now, she taught me to make, re-make, repair and never waste anything and so I thought that was how it was and that was what her generation had to teach us.
With the ebb and flow of the conversation we turned to the subject of food, with someone bringing up the topic of left overs and how her Mum will put a can of beans back into the fridge with only a few beans left in the bottom. Seizing the chance to chip in, I asserted that maybe that was because she remembered a time when she had little or no food, so she cherishes everything she has. (This guarding of food is known as ‘making something out of nothing’ in our house.) This was, fortunately, met with agreement and stories about making this weeks lunches from the rubbery veg in the bottom of the fridge. It didn’t really make me feel any better though.
Food waste is a massive thing right now and so it’s on people’s minds but if food goes to landfill it makes compost. If shoes go to landfill they don’t. And it’s not as though they are any cheaper than food. It seems as though for some it’s easier to cook iffy veg from scratch than take a trip to the shoe repair counter in town. If we were in the 1940’s you’d be ostracised for that, wasting anything was criminal and just because we’re in the 21st century doesn’t mean it isn’t still so. The upcycling, recycling shouldn’t just be for those who are following the latest trend. It should be the first port of call for everyone. We should all be making what we have last for as long as possible. Big companies only release new season goods because they know we’ll buy them and more fool us. I mean, how many pairs of shoes can you wear in one day anyway? Does anyone really care if your boots are last years design?
Fix them or give them away but don’t throw them away. We should be guarding anything that can be used again and treating it like the last few beans at the bottom of the tin. We should always be trying to make “something out of nothing” and valuing what we have. It’s one of the most important things we can teach the next generation and the ones to come.