In hard times it pays to look back to even harder ones to see how we can copy ideas. War-time families wasted nothing, Every scrap of food was made into another dish and every scrap of fabric was made into something else. It was the ultimate time for recycling, re-using and mending and now we can do this too. Not only is it good for the planet, but it's good for our frugal lifestyles as well and it isn't difficult.
Sheets that are worn thin or ripped can be used to back patchwork or cushion covers. Old curtains can be cut up to make tablecloths, cushion covers or throws - or even smaller curtains (removing faded, worn and damaged parts of course). Old towels and tea towels can be torn up for cleaning cloths.
Don't throw away clothes that are torn, stained or damaged. Look at the fabric - can you make something else from it? Can you match it with other scraps and make something? Does it have a zip you can re-use? Can you cover a small hole in a blouse or t-shirt with embroidery or a cute patch?
Cut off buttons, bows, ribbons, beads and pieces of lace. Keep a button tin - buttons can be used to decorate bags, hats, gloves, cushions and fabric trainers. They can even be used as, well, buttons - to replace lost ones.
Use odd china cups as summer planters and saucers as water trays under houseplants. Even the really broken china can be used in the bottom of plant pots for drainage. Keep jam jars to re-use when you make jams and chutneys or use them for tea light holders indoors or out.
I now look at everything closely before I get rid of it and ask myself these questions;
Can I sell it? Can I use it to make something else or use it in a different way? Can take it apart and use the components? Can I give it to someone else to use- Freecycle, Freegle or the charity shop?
Only when I've exhausted all those ideas do I actually throw anything out - and I still have a bin full of rubbish every week - oh well, I'm trying!
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