Conscious Consumption, One Planet Living

One Planet Living – Making Do

January 9, 2017

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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12 Comments

  • Reply Nicky January 10, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Absolutely joining you in Making Do this month and really excited about it and will hopefully keep it going for the rest of the year along with the other monthly goals that you have so cleverly put together. I did a year of buying nothing new some time ago and was surprised about how much I enjoyed it and how much contentment I gained from making do or finding an alternative from what I already had. Thank you for getting us all started again and January is the perfect month to Make Do after the Christmas excesses!

    • Reply Jen January 12, 2017 at 11:41 am

      Hi Nicky
      Well done on your year! As you say, there is a surprising amount of satisfaction (and dare I say it a small element of smugness..!) in making do or getting inventive with alternatives!

  • Reply serging ahead January 10, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    I have made more effort to use up cupboard items so as to only buy food once a week unless something has run out unexpectedly. I will be doing more grow your own this year despite the slugs! Before christmas I found the Abel and Cole veg box book in a charity shop and used an amazing curry recipe to use up left over parsnips and carrots and just added a sweet potato.

    • Reply Jen January 12, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Oooh that sounds delicious! Yes, I find those ‘just popping in for some milk’ shopping trips really add up-well done for using up what you already have!

  • Reply Dorothy cripplewing January 9, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    I am having a no spend month, eat out of the pantry and make something useful with the stash I have. I have a pellet stove for additional heat and am trying to make the pellets last till the end of the month ….using a sweater and slippers and sometimes extra hot herb tea.

    • Reply Jen January 12, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Well done Dorothy, great plans!

  • Reply Pat January 9, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Feel quite pleased as yesterday I made a patchwork of left over fabric and then used it to make a large dog bed cushion with it, using the filling from his previous bed that had totally disintegrated in the washing machine yesterday . That saved $18 on a new bed plus no need to do an hour’s driving(total) to buy one.

    • Reply Jen January 12, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Brilliant! And you got to spend some time doing an enjoyable and meditative craft rather than battling the traffic and the shops 🙂

  • Reply Emma Davies January 9, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Love this!! Was intrigued at the mention of Michelle McGagh so I googled her and her journey is incredible. My goal for January is to become a little more mindful about what I spend, and get into the habit of only buying what I needed opposed to what I want. And so far, it turns out I don’t actually want very much. We walked around home bargains on Saturday and normally I would have been throwing things into the trolley thinking ‘ooooooh that’s cheap, I must want that!!’ But unfortunately all those cheap things that I don’t actually need result in a £50-£60 trolley. So on Saturday, I actually asked myself if I needed things and I ended up leaving there with three items, totalling £2.60. What a difference!!! So yup, pretty much using what we have and only buying what I need ☺

    • Reply Jen January 12, 2017 at 11:38 am

      Wow, a £50 saving already, that’s fabulous! I always find it incredible how it almost seems like there is some kind of switch in our minds, and once we’ve managed to flick it, we start to see things so differently!

  • Reply Julie Charlesworth January 9, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    I’ve commented on the Facebook group but just to reiterate this is a great mantra for this month and well done Jen for giving us goals and things to think about! I’ve stopped my partner going into the sales this weekend for things he doesn’t need although he did buy 2 new shirts in a charity shop – I’ll let him off for that. Even he’s repeating the phrase ‘we’ve got to make do with what we’ve got this month!’ We’ve really enjoyed using our xmas food leftovers and we’ve got plans for the remaining sprouts and broccoli at the allotment and of course our courgette glut still in the freezer from the summer. We shouldn’t need to buy any fresh veg really for a few weeks unless of course we get bored! Julie x

    • Reply Jen January 12, 2017 at 11:37 am

      Hi Julie
      That all sounds fabulous! And well done for getting hubby on board-sometimes getting those closest to us to come around to our way of thinking is one of the hardest things!
      Enjoy your month of Making Do 🙂

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