Saturday, January 10, 2009

Use It Up - Make It Do

Making that pillow out of a sweater made me think of the expression "Use It Up & Make it do or Do Without". I'm afraid that so many of us have not learned the frugal trick of making the most of everything we have. I remember reading that in the Depression they made dresses out of flour sacks, saved string to make string balls, kept all leftovers and made them into soup and such. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

Old Sheets for quilt backing

Unravel old wool sweaters to use the yarn or felt them

Quilts from old pieces of clothing

Wash out jars and use them to organize items like nails, buttons, or craft items

If a shirt has holes and is no longer wearable, take the buttons off and cut the shirt to make rags or quilt pieces

Use the last bit of ketchup in meatloaf or soup

Add a bit of water to the last of the handsoap to make it last longer

Save wrappers from butter and margarine to grease pans

Old bread can be made into croutons or bread pudding instead of just trashed. Bread also freezes so if you think you might not use it all before it dries out you can wrap it and toss in the freezer.

My husband usually gets his work shoes resoled at least one time often more instead of buying new. But when he does buy new he buys a good quality.

Make your chicken stock from your leftover chicken bones instead of throwing them in the trash. Save them in the freezer if you don't have enough.

Glass bottles can become edging for a garden.

An old garden hose can become a soaker hose

Old shower curtains can be used as drop cloths

Old greeting cards can be made into gift cards or framed as art

We don't have to take it to the extreme and become packrats never throwing anything out for fear we made need it one day or hoarding sugar packets that were taken from restaurants. But I do think we need to ask ourselves if we can use it up, can we make it do for the short term or indefinitely, can we do without it. We as a nation waste so much! You'll find that there's a certain gratification that comes with being resourceful and creative!

Go here to learn how to make this rug from 4 or 5 wool sweaters How to Make a Snug Rug.


Salmagundi said...

I checked out the "snug rug" and it does look like a fun and easy project. I've been wanting to knit something but find wool yarn quite expensive. This may work for me. Thanks. Sally

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post. I had been thinking along those lines for a while now. I have lived through 2 times in my life. When I had to be very resourceful and thrifty. It got me through some tough times. But it also reminds me that we need to live everyday with litle waste. Reuse,reduce and revitalize the things we have around us. Have a good weekend.

Lady Katherine said...

My grandmother always said, Waste Not,Want Not! I have made quilts out of my hubby's parents, my parents, mine and hubby's, and my daughters clothes. We have a family quit and I used the white sheets from our bed between the blocks to symbolize our marriage and the back is also the white sheet. hubby found one in the closet, not to long ago and loved it. He wanted to know where it came from. When my girls were home school, we made several quilts like this. My girls were laughing because all three of us made these quilts and hubby did not have a clue. The girls used the quilts when they lived at home. I love all your ideas on how to save. This is what our grandmothers daily life was about. I have been using cans, plastic, etc for rooting plants. I have been saving Smuckers jelly jars and when cooking, I use evaporated milk and put the left over milk in the jelly jars. I have also been using jars to store leftovers in the fridge, to cut down on using plastic or foil to cover the food.

Carolyne said...

Hi Manuela!
I *love* this idea!....another great use for all those old sweaters I hang onto. Thanks for the tip. I also love coming to visit your blog.
((hugs)) Carolyne

Anonymous said...

Your post has me thinking even more.
I have always said to myself that I need to use "it " twice. Grocery bags for lining garbage pails or use as lunch bags, wash zip lock bags to reuse, rubber bands from vegtables, etc.

Betsy Brock said...

Those are all great tips!

One thing I used to do and haven't done in years is to save any left over veggies from dinner...even 1 or 2 green beans...put them in a container in the freezer and add to it daily until you have 3-4 cups of veggies to use when you make soup.

I love the rug in your last picture. Wow...that is an incredible example of recycling!

Laura said...

I love your ideas Manuela! Thank you for posting them.

Shilo said...

What a timely topic! Thanks for the ideas. We are working hard to save $6,500 by June so every little idea helps!

Terri Steffes said...

I so agree with you on this! If you look at today's post for me, I used that concept a lot to repurpose things that I already owned to redecorate my bedroom! I am going to check out the directions on that rug. It is adorable!

sandra/tx said...

Manuela, great post. I especially love the idea of turning an old garden hose into a soaker hose.

We all could learn a few things from our grandparents and how frugal they were.

bj said...

Being the age I am, I do a lot of the things you suggested and more. I was raised during the times we had ration books for shoes, sugar, gas...all kinds of things. My mom used everything over and over and over and taught my brother and I to do the same. We always make soups out of leftovers..many times, I have just a bit of green beans or whatever left and just put them in a bag and freeze. Once I have enuf, I make what my mom called ICEBOX STEW.
Thanks for this great post...

Marilyn in NM said...

This was a great post. I need reminded everyday of how much I waste and how I can do better. DH and I have been reminding ourselves of the "water bottle" issues and have been filling our own bottles, glasses & cups and haven't touched the case of water I bought over 3 months ago.
I definitely believe in reusing and reducing and most of all in doing without when it's not necessary.
Right now I'm knitting from my stash and sewing from my fabric stash also. I didn't realize I had so much material and yarn. It's like it's all new again, I just need to put it into a bag and put a "receipt" in there and it'd be like shopping all

Thanks for the great post. I read your blog almost everyday and love your ideas and inspiration.
Marilyn in NM

Decor To Adore said...

The earth thanks you! :)

Cyndi said...

What a great Idea ( the rug ) I have it in my favrites and well be keeping my eye out for wool sweaters.
Thank you

Nicole ~ said...

I love your post, and agree with you completely! I love all of your ideas, and currently follow some of them now.

Thanks for sharing. I look forward to visiting your Blog.


Suzanne said...

Great tips, penny rugs and hooked rugs are resourceful examples of thriftiness. Not that I want to live "exactly" like the pioneers back in the day, but they did have to be creative with their resources.

Anita said...

I AGREE that we as a people need to really stop and think. I am in that mode for several reasons at the moment: I am going back to grad school and watching the pennies, kids in college and others getting closer daily that will need bigger bucks than I have saved, general care for the planet my grandkids will live on, and also- I just love that kinda stuff. Cozy quilts made from memories make them just a titch warmer, I think. So thanks for verbalizing what I think others think might be embarassing to admit. But let's face it- excess consumerism and blatant disregard for the environement is soooo unfashionable.


Glenda/MidSouth said...

I was not raised during the depression, but I was raised in a "use it up and make it do" home and that attitude carried over into my adult years. Great post.

Debra from Bungalow said...

Hi Manuela,
Boy I've missed so much over here & it's all great! I love the sweater pillow and all your before & after projects. The green paint on the inside of the cabinet doors has inspired me!

I agree that we all are guilty of throwing away things that could be repurposed. My mom said she had pjs made from flour sacks.
Thanks for the ideas! Hugs, DebraK

Sue said...

My favorite thing to make things stretch is to put all soap containers (clothes, dish, shampoo etc.) upside down when you think they are empty. I always get a few more times out of it. I was over at Goodwill today (no good sweaters) and I found 6 huge red rimmed plates with an indentation in the center like a very shallow soup bowl for only $5.00. Upon further inspection before going thru the checkout I saw they were from Pottery Barn....a very good find!!

Missy Wertz said...

You are so right M. My grandma lived through 2 depressions. She lived with us and recycled everything. We did not have much and she taught us how to make everything last, reuse and recycle.

My DD got the American Girl Doll Movie "Kit" for Christmas. We watched it this weekend. She had a lot of questions about the times and the depression b/c she is listening to the news, to DH and I, kids talk at school, etc about the economy and current affairs.

I think we all eat too much as well. I know I tend to over buy at the store.

A quilt that I have, grandma made for her first grandchild (me). Won a blue ribbon at the county fair. It was made from scraps and old dresses of my mom's and aunts. I have several quits made by my grandma. One is a flour sack quilt. I will feature it one S&T Fri. It is the best made quilt and was my mattress cover most of my life. I think that is why I have it, or one of my aunts would have it instead. I understand it is quite valuable and b/c it was always under something (a sheet) did not get the wear and tear many quilts get.

My grandma never let anything go to waste and if she could not use it, she pasted it on. In her opinion, it was a sin to hoard.

Kathleen Grace said...

This is good advice for these times. I think we all need to rethink what we waste and what we can do to save money!

Free Art Printables said...

I feel the same way! I love all of those ideas!

Mimi Sue said...

That's certainly how my grandparents lived during the depression and after. It's good for the environment too. Mimi

Elaine said...

These are some great ideas. It's good to be reminded sometime that there are so many things we can be doing to be less wasteful. My husband and I have been talking about just this kind of thing this past week. Thanks for sharing.

cherry said...

Don't forget using soft bananas...I freeze mine..for banana bread! My Dad also takes the hamhock out of leftover ham for soup. Great tips! Make do or do without! Cherry

Anonymous said...

That is one of my favorite quotes!


P. said...

Very good advice.Thank you.


Storybook Woods said...

You know the more you start doing this, more ideas you get. It opens your eyes. Clarice

Unknown said...

What great tips! I'm definitely checking out the snug rug- so cute! Here's one of my favorite tips: The last bit of jam in the jar? Pour in a glass of milk, put on the lid, shake vigorously. Delicious!

the unmodern mom said...

Another wonderful post! I have another good tip. Instead of throwing out lemons that are going bad, juice them and zest them just before they turn. You can freeze the juice and zest in separate freezer bags for future use.