Use it up, wear it out, make it do, make it yourself, or do without.

When Thich Nhat Hanh entered a great state of bliss (i.e. died) in January I decided to re-read his book Peace is Every Step (which actually lead to reading two other titles he wrote, too).  I was in my early 20s when I encountered Peace is Every Step and it was really impactful.  It was probably my first experience with the practice of mindfulness.  
Matt shaping the rolls he made for our Thanksgiving meal. 11/24/2022
On this most recent re-read, there was a passage that seriously rang my bell.  Thich Nhat Hahn described America, Western Europe, and the like as "overdeveloped nations."  He flipped it from the rather superior-sounding norm of calling others  the"developing nations."  It stopped me in my tracks.  That feels more accurate to me.  I can only speak from my American perspective, but I think we've "developed" past the point of diminishing returns in many regards, especially when it comes to health and community. 
Matt and I baked and decorated gingerbread houses with Michelle and her son, Sky.  11/27/2022
I saw an image making the rounds in December last year that said, "Normalize--secondhand gifts, homemade gifts, experience gifts, consumable gifts, small business gifts."  I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I thought it was a wonderful suggestion.  There is so much wanton consumerism, especially around the holidays.  This is a refreshing take.  I wouldn't stop there though.  
  • I want to normalize secondhand shopping and upcycling and repurposing.  
  • I want to normalize bartering and trading and collective ownership (i.e. sharing).
  • I want to normalize patched and mended clothing.
  • I want to normalize scuffed, scratched, and secondhand furniture and household goods.
  • I want to normalize repairing instead of replacing.
  • I want to normalize voluntary simplicity.
I call this my Hygge Chair/Corner.  Set in a corner with windows on both sides it is a favorite spot for watching the bunnies and birds in the yard.  To admire the flowers or the snow, depending on the season.  It is a swell spot for a relaxing cuppa with a kitty or a book.  10/22/2022
I often feel a sense of wonder and astonishment when confronted with, well...shall we say, more "average" consumers.  Going to Costco or Target starts to feel like I'm at a museum showcasing a totally foreign way of life.  I can't really wrap my mind around who is buying and using all of this...stuff.   I can't comprehend the ripple effect all this stuff has in our homes and lives--and eventually our landfills, too.  (I'd like to pause here in order to recommend a remarkable book called Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors.) 
We have a pair of Eurasian Collared Doves that nest and roost on our property.  I call them Gary and Mary.  I am grateful for my animal neighbors.  Gary, Mary, Bobtail-the-Squirrel, Black Bunny, and his girlfriend, Patches.  Not to mention all the unnamed Chickadees and other birds.  They make me happy.  They make our home a cheerier place.  Some, like the Cedar Waxwings who appear each fall to gorge on mountain ash berries, are harbingers of the changing season.  11/23/2022
I realized this sense of estrangement from consumer culture is because of the underlying principle which guides my life.  A principle that often seems at odds with the (relatively new, might I add) consumer-centric way of life.   The gist of which can be summed up thus: 

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, make it yourself, or do without."
Matt cutting down the Christmas tree we selected after a lovely hour tromping through the snowy woods.  11/27/2022
I stole three-quarters of this rule of thumb, but then I personalized it, making it even more robust.  Or draconian and austere, I suppose, depending on who you ask.  
Working on a very entertaining puzzle that Dee Ann loaned me following my ramble about puzzles.  Ginger's helpfulness at the puzzle table varies wildly.  11/23/2022
I find satisfaction in mending something broken.  Patching and darning can be beautiful and creative, not to mention resourceful.  I take pride in making things myself, be it jam, dresses, or my knock-off SoftScrub.  To my mind, the waste from fast fashion, cheap household goods, and industrial food production is shameful.  To my intense pleasure, I've found more freedom and more happiness as I've pared down the material goods and products I once thought necessary.  I try to emphasize experiences as the highlights of my life.  Not stuff.
I'm teaching myself to embroider and it is so much fun!  I am practicing on a stained shirt which, I hope, will be back to wearability with these colorful additions.  12/6/2022
According to Nielson, there are 30,000 new products that hit stores every year, largely variations on already existing products--new flavors, scents, colors, and styles.  I think that is astonishing!  30,000?!?!  Every year!?!?!?!   Good grief!  What could be better evidence that we're "overdeveloped" at this point?  I can only imagine what could be accomplished if we collectively reevaluated our priorities and reinvested all that time, energy, money, and natural resources elsewhere.  

How many different types of chips, leggings, salad dressings, Swiffer wipes, laundry scent booters, and Oreos do we need in order to be fulfilled and content?  When is enough enough?  Will it ever be?  
My ofrenda for this year. 11/5/2022
It gives me pause, especially at this time of year.


  1. I quite agree, choice is nice, but not at the expense of the planet. I have been guilty of shocking consumerism in the past but I try to be better these days. I have patched a coat (with pretty embroidery) and am definitely better at using up leftovers.
    Anyway, where’s our Yahtzee? Haven’t played that in a while.!

    1. And so many of the "choices" are really just the same thing, reformatted in a different flavor or color or whatever! It is nuts. Almost an illusion of choice.

      I used to buy stuff without thinking about where it came from and where it will go, too. It is the way of the world we live in. But, I'm glad we're both trying to do better now that we know better, so to speak. Thanks for sharing your experience! I hope you get a lot of fun and games in SOON!

  2. Love this, Beth! The stuff in stores overwhelms me and gives me the heebie-jeebies.

    1. I really do feel like a stranger in a strange land. Thanks, Margo.

  3. Hi Beth,
    ...I loved this post...I love recycling...and saving things that would otherwise be thrown away...and of course I love puzzles and passing those along (and borrowing them too)...and I love patching things too...and I also love it when the patch 'shows'...
    ~Have a lovely day!

    1. Huzzah for wearing patches with pride!!! Happy New Year to you and yours, T.

  4. Sending New Year good wishes to you and Matt. I’m finally catching up with you as we had Covid in da house at the beginning of December. Dave, Ben and Pip have recovered but I haven’t which is a bit of a nuisance, especially since I started a permaculture course in November which is due to finish in March 🤪. I’m way behind on modules and cannot concentrate on anything other than short snippets of info. The covid spike protein is still running amok in my system and is causing all sorts of horrendous physical symptoms and that’s despite my having had all my shots including the autumn booster 😕. Look after yourselves big hugs San xx

    1. Oh no! Oh, Sandra. I'm so sorry to hear this. I wish you all the best in your recovery.

  5. I just found your blog via Laurie at The Clean Green Homestead and am delighted I did! I look forward to exploring your site. What I have read so far resonates with my interests and outlooks.

    1. Thanks for saying hi, April! Nice to "meet" you! I'm always happy to cross paths with like minded folks.


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