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.