I know we are already part way through January, and if the statistics are anything to go by then some of us will have given up on our New Year’s Resolutions already! But today is the first official day of the January challenge for our year of One Planet Living, and it’s all about Making Do.
When I posted in the Facebook community to ask what people’s aspirations were for 2017, I was surprised by one of the most popular answers, which was to have year of ‘using things up’. Lots of people commented that this was their aim, and that they were going to be ‘making do’ with their crafting stashes, or making sure they used up all their food leftovers, or were even planning year buying nothing new. So I figured that this would be a good challenge to kick off with, and it kind of makes sense to do it at this time of year, when funds might be a little low post Christmas, and we are all super aware of some of the excesses in our lives post festivities and gift giving.
Back in 2012, we spent a year buying nothing new and I started this blog, which at the time was called My Make Do and Mend Year. I devoted a lot of time to Making, and to Mending, instead of buying new, but gave very little thought to ‘Making Do’. In effect, I guess it’s what we were doing throughout the whole year, we were ‘making do’ with resources and stuff that already existed, by buying things secondhand, but it didn’t feel like we really ‘made do’ with the stuff we already had at home so much. I always felt a little bit sorry for poor old ‘Making Do’ next to the more glamorous ‘Making’ and the more pro-active ‘Mending’, but actually I think it’s something thought we can all incorporate elements of into our lives pretty easily. And like mending, it’s also a very gentle form of activism. By choosing to Make Do with what we already have, we are turning our backs on the big retailers and the constant messages that we are bombarded with every day telling us to buy more, more, more. We are sending out a quiet message that what we already have is enough. That we know our lives will not be improved by the next shiny new whatever, that we are complete as we are, and that we are grateful for what we have.
Making Do will mean different things to everyone.
For some if will mean Making Do with the things we already have at home, and not buying anything new. An inspirational lady called Michelle McGagh took this to extremes last year when she spent a whole year buying nothing, not even paying for transport!
For others it will be confined to their creating and making, and I know that several people in our Facebook group were planning to commit to not buying any new craft supplies for the year, but were going to be exploring ways to use up what they already had.
And for lots of us it will be about Making Do with regards to food, and ensuring that we use up the food we have, without creating waste and throwing away leftovers. We’ve already had some great posts in the Facebook group about the creative and sometimes slightly unusual meals that have resulted from a determination to use up every last scrap of Christmas food.
Whatever Making Do means to you, I think it’s a vital skill that we can all work on.
When we walk down our local High St, it can be very easy to think that we are living in a time of abundance and excess. There is stuff everywhere. The shops are full to bursting with stuff we often didn’t even know we wanted or needed, and the charity shops are overwhelmed with our donations of the stuff we have discarded to make way for new things. And all of that stuff has never been cheaper. Prices have never been lower, for technology, clothes and for food. It might not feel like it sometimes, but never in history has it been so cheap to buy so much.
But all of this excess, and these cheap prices, hide the real story, the true cost.
We are using up resources faster than the planet can produce them. Each year there is a day called Earth Overshoot Day, which marks the day when as a global society we have used up the amount of resources that our planet can renew in a year. It is getting earlier and earlier each year. In 2015 it was on August 13th, and last year it was the 8th August. From that point onwards we are literally stealing resources from future generations.
We simply do not have the raw materials to continue to consume at the rates we are here in the Western world.
We all need to be more aware of just how precious our resources, our things, our food, really are. We need to be grateful for what we have, and mindful of how we use it, look after it, dispose of it, and replace it.
So are you joining me in Making Do this January?
And what does Making Do mean to you? What are your specific aims for this month? Will you be using up all your leftovers? Or having a no spend month? Or something else entirely?
Do share your goals below in the comments, and then pop over to the Facebook community to join in the conversation!
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