Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make Do, Close the Loop

From the bean of Green Bean.

As lay offs abound and the Stock Market sinks, I find myself more and more drawn to memoirs from Depression era life, weighing the adages of my grandparents' generation and seeking ways to live both green and thrifty. One of my favorite frugal axioms is "use it up, wear it out, make do, do without."

What could be greener? More economical? Adhering to this bit of wisdom will save thousands of dollars and loads of carbon. It will bring dozens of darned socks, a plethora of patched pants, scones made from soured milk, lunches loaded with leftovers, and a new love for last year's loafers. It will make a poor man rich and a warming planet cool.

As much as I love this creed, though, there is such a thing as progress. Not that kind that paves over parks and puts a Target where my elementary school used to be. No. The kind that adjusts and tweaks to make something applicable to the present.

There are a couple parts of this thrifty slogan that I have trouble with. Usually the "make do" and sometimes the "do without."

Exhibit A: My doormat.

After months of tripping over the unraveling coir strands and trying to re-thread them, I think I can credibly argue that I used it up and wore it out.

"Make do"? Not so sure. If I were truly thrifty, I would have crocheted my neighbor's plastic bags into a durable doormat. Or perhaps I would have chopped my husband's high school boogie board down to the right dimension.

Only, I am not that self sufficient.

As I couldn't transform my own trash into a new doormat, I decided to do the next best thing. Convert our global garbage into one.

As Arduous once pointed out, being self sufficient is not synonymous with being green. We are a community - even a global community - for a reason. I may not have the time or skills to tackle a particular problem - be it a doormat, a threadbare jacket, or a new toothbrush - but I do have the ability to close our collective loop. I can buy sustainable products made from our refuse. There is no market for those products unless we support one. Unless, once we've reached the end of our thrifty green mantra, we reach out to small ventures looking to turn trash into treasure.

When my very sad doormat needed to be put out misery, an Internet search unveiled an assortment of eco-friendly options. Doormats made from recycled tires or aluminum. Ones made from renewable materials. I opted for this saucy little number, which is made from recycled flip flops by Filipino women who are paid a fair wage.

As I wipe my feet and turn the key I realize that we have made progress - with a click of the mouse and some of our pennies saved. I realize that "use it up, wear it out, make do, close the loop" would make our thrifty grandparents proud.


Gruppie Girl said...

Very cool!

I find myself leaning towrds items that are more durable. Not always as pretty as I used to go for.

Joyce said...

If you haven't thrown the old mat out, and it is made of natural materials, it can be used as a weed barrier, either under mulch, or just tucked behind bushes. I've done this with old cotton bath mats for years.

Jennifer said...

Nice! Using up products MADE from our recycled materials is so important.

I agree with Joyce... there are lots of non-doormat uses for that mat now. Weed barrier, mat for gardening when it's muddy so you don't get so muddy, dog chew toy if you take the long strands and braid them tightly together...

ruchi aka arduous said...

Dude, I am so laughing at the idea of you crocheting the neighbor's plastic bags into a doormat. You should do that ANYWAY. Or, oooh! Oooh! Make the boys do it, and set up a little doormat making sweatshop in your kitchen!!

Green Bean said...

Gruppie Girl: So true. Shifting to durable might not give the exact look you were hoping for but really it's all what's inside, right? ;-)

Joyce and Jennifer: Darn it! I knew I should have posted this earlier. I tried to think of what to do with that mat for weeks and finally tossed it in the garbage last week. Great ideas, though.

Arduous: I'm all for slave labor from the boys. They're not that compliant but the idea of crocheting plastic bags, hmmm. I'm thinking the little one at least might get on board.

lisa winter said...

Love this blog, how fun. Particularly love this post about creating this doormat. like your style of writing - it's clever. found you on twitter. am now following your blog. Can't wait for more posts.

Green Resolutions said...

Love the new mat. I also love the way you remember -- and link to -- other bloggers' posts, even though it takes me forever to read through all the links :)

JessTrev said...

What a nice post. I agree with Green Rez - I liked following all your links -- especially to yours from last spring about old adages. Good reminder that, if we do end up buying at all as a last resort, we should make our dollars count. Especially like that it's reuse *and* fair trade. Does it also magically ensure that people take their shoes off at the door?!

Green Bean said...

Lisa: Thank you and welcome! We're so happy you found us.

Resolutions and Jess: I'm glad you like it when I get a little link happy. Just because a post was written a while back doesn't mean it should be forgotten. :) And Jess, I've not had it work to remove people's shoes yet but who knows. Maybe eventually it will acquire that magic.

Robj98168 said...

Compost that old one! The new one is pretty cool- I love buying fair trade. My grandma had the same addages- except she would keep home canned goods way past their prime. And I would have to sneek them out to the garbage. I usually say if the lid is rusty don't be trusty.

EcoBurban a.k.a. EcoWonder said...

I have to admit... My husband is so much better than I at closing the loop! He is excellent at being creative when it comes to fixing things. My favorite was when my ancient (I'm talking pre-dates my kids!) plastic watering can finally split at the seams and I thought about springing for a pretty metal one... He got out a torch, heated the plastic and smushed the seams back together! It's a good as the day I got it, however a little oddly shaped.

And, Ruchi is right... My doggie would LURVE that door mat literally to PIECES! He has Dalmatian jaws of steel!


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