Mindful Consumption

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”

Calvin Coolidge is said to have coined the phrase “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” and it was later changed to “use it up…”

We’ve come a long way from the days of using things up. When was the last time you mended socks? I never have. I am frugal when it comes to spending to begin with and will wear things for years and years. But I am not a fan of mending holes or wearing things with stains. I recently stained a pair of pants and cannot get the stain out. It’s right in the front, and I’d be self-conscious to wear them. How silly is that? They are comfortable and keep me warm. They function just fine. I’ve decided to keep them. I may sew on a patch or dye them a darker color.

A few months ago, I went through the baby clothes and blankets passed down from generations in my family. I was surprised at the stains on the hand-stitched cloth napkins and on the knit baby sweaters.

Do the stains make the person any less of a person? No. Does it mean they’re dirty or bad or any other negative thing? The answer is a resounding ‘no’.

I went to a community play recently and the usher wore an emerald-green sweater. It had small moth holes in it. The color complimented her eyes and looked so cozy and warm. Still, my gaze was drawn to the holes.

Why is that? Are we taught to point out ‘flaws’? I mused about whether she was poor and couldn’t afford another sweater or if she was rich and simply understood that clothes don’t affect worth as a person.

One thing I always remind myself is that I trade money for goods. How do I get money? Often, time. I work to earn money to buy things. Passive income aside, I like to ask myself “is this $15 item worth X amount of time?” Even if it is, I’ll ask if I really need it. There’s a huge difference between wants and needs.

I recently organized my cupboards and when wiping out my baking cabinet, I noticed an usual amount of flour on the shelf. After examining my flour container (purchased initially to keep the pantry moths away), I realized the bottom was cracked. I was tempted to buy a new one. Instead, I emptied the flour into a mixing bowl, washed the container, and superglued the crack. Good as new!

Trusty flour container

keeps out the critters

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