Making do……have we forgotten how? And does it matter?


I grew up with parents who had lived thru the Great Depression and an awful war.  I heard stories from them and my grandmother about austerity, rationing of things during the war, not having money, all due to the economy being what it was and nobody could change it.  Most of all, I heard how important it was then to know about “making do.”  They had to make do with what they had, cos there wasn’t any way to improve their circumstances.  They made do with food, clothes, household goods; all those things had to be stretched and saved, and given the circumstances, they were glad for what they had.  Some had even less.  People were poor then, but they learned and knew how to be resourceful.

I learned a lot from them, and call myself resourceful, frugal, one of those words that means I know more about making do than some other people in today’s world.

The other day I mixed two partial gallons of porch paint together to make a gallon of one color, for where I needed a whole gallon.  (It’s hard to judge how much we need to paint our porches every couple years, and a couple partial cans were left over in the basement.)  A simple thing,  but it was making do.  A lady who writes one of the best blogs I follow  said that in the area where she lives, there is a collection place where people can take parts of gallons of paint, and others can go pick up any they need, free.  Wow, it’s called sharing. It’s a wonderful concept, it’s making do,  and not many people seem to find ways to do it any more, or feel the need to do it either.  (BTW, if you read blogs, you should read hers.  She’s good at being self sufficient because it’s an important concept, and also working on sharing the concept in her community. )  I don’t think she’ll mind me sharing her great ideas.

Just today in the grocery store,  a lady said she hated to pay for cut up stew beef, but she would cos she wanted it quick and easy, and anyway she might cut herself cutting beef up.  What? You can’t cut beef, you mean you’re not capable?  No sharp knives?  Have you ever really cooked anything,  lol? Have you ever sharpened a knife? I didn’t laugh, or ask her any of the questions I was thinking, but I felt sorry for the fact that she’s so willing to pay for a convenience like that.  I have a feeling that she’s one of those people who goes totally bonkers when her electric goes out for 2 hours. And I bet she’s never hung one piece of laundry on a clothes line.

I’m not much willing to pay for convenience if it can be avoided, cos my time is money, and I can make do, by cutting up meat myself.  I also enjoy knowing how to do a lot of things for myself that I could pay for, but don’t.  It’s a challenge to figure out how to do things, rather than paying someone else to do them for me.  Last week I tore my bathroom drain apart cos it was running slow, and found out I could do it, fairly easily, and clean out a gunk of toothpaste in a strangely made  drain.  I love my contractor for when I can’t do things, but at $50 per service call, I’ll tear my own drain apart.  I also fixed my (non-electric!) garage door opener last week, where a piece of wire had broken loose.  It needed a new piece of wire, not a $50 service call.  Works like a charm.  Simple things to do, but I did do them; that’s my point. My son said, Cool, you fixed it!  He knows the concept of making do himself, having grown up learning it and also going thru the military.

Sorry to rant on, but I just feel the need, and in the case of some regular readers, I know I’m preaching to the choir!  Repeating ideas like this might get just one more person to think.  A couple examples…..I know somebody who complains about needing to buy  2 rolls of paper towels a week for clean up in the kitchen.  I use reusable cloth.  And those convenient throw away things to clean the commode?  Nahhh, not here.  Then there is the tv commercial for a water filter that shows this country alone using enough throw away water bottles to go around the world, in one year.  I drink tap water.  Making do……..making things last, cos at some point, we might not have so many choices.  We throw things away, but there is no “away.”  There are landfills everywhere, and barges of garbage floating in the oceans.  How big are those oceans? Are we sure we can really afford to live with such convenience?

I have hope knowing  that more people are starting to wake up to a need to be more self reliant.  We can count on ourselves a lot more than some people think we can, if you’re willing to challenge yourself.  Some feel no need to challenge themselves, cos it’s easier (?) to just have everything convenient and easy.  We don’t know that it will always be that way tho, and if times change,  the economy goes totally south or something like that, it would be better to know some self reliance and self sufficiency.  There are more and more people growing some of their own food, preserving food, finding ways to use things they have, “making do”, because their own personal economy is not what it used to be.  Who knows how helpful all that could be if the larger economy gets worse than it already is.  There are people who understand that making do is a very good thing.

I see that on Facebook there are some local on line yard sales popping up.  You get on and post what you have for sale, and some local person and you hook up with a deal.  Somebody sells something, gets money for what could have been just discarded, somebody buys something, saves money by buying something they needed cheaper, everybody walks away happy, making do!

There are huge amounts of info on line about ways in which people are learning to be more self reliant.  We can’t all go buy a homestead and raise animals and go off grid, but each person can find ways to conserve:  conserve their own money, conserve the environment, conserve what used to be a way of life where people knew more about how to take care of themselves.  Conserve the concept of making do.  Our resources, whatever we each call them, are not limitless.  Our way of life is using our resources up.  That begins at home, each day.  So I guess I’m asking people to think: do you understand making do?

Convenience, it’s so important to so many people these days in our rushed and crazy world.  At what point does convenience roll over into complacency? Complacency  is a scary word.

Old lady rant over; thanks for reading!

7 responses to “Making do……have we forgotten how? And does it matter?

  1. I totally agree with everything you say! I grew up in England in the 50s where people were still mindful of the rationing and scarcities of WW2… it wasn’t until we arrived in the US in the 60s that I was aware of how wasteful people could be… Anyway, I must run right now, literally, as I am catching the train to go downtown… as opposed to driving my car! Thanks for a thoughtful post.

    • You’re so welcome. Catching the train, yaay you! Wasteful is a good word and I’m afraid so many of us have fallen into that word. A sense of complacency tells us that times like that could never happen again…not to us, no.

  2. Wonderful post! I also agree 100%. It’s a shame so many people don’t know how to make do. I was raised on that idea and I’m so glad I was. 😀

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