It Comes Around Again

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Been thinking a lot lately about thrifting. I like thrift shopping, as much as the next person. Okay, probably a whole lot MORE than the next person. I find interesting, unique things. I don’t have to spend a whole lot of money on clothes (and other items, too). It keeps things out of the landfill.

We all do thrifty things. I have a close friend who is a kijiji wizard (Hi, Leesa). She gets the most amazing things, often for free, always for cheap. My Dad cuts his own hair. We buy things in bulk, watch for sales. Most of us put that blue box to the curb every week.

I was sitting the other day at the kitchen table with my sweetheart, enjoying a coffee and a chat, and catching up on my mending, which included: two bras, a camisole, a striped indian cotton shirt that I love, the top to my red pyjamas and a skort. Very small jobs – straps mostly, an underwire, some small tears. I darn socks, too, but only homemade socks – cotton athletic socks bought by the bag are disposable, in my book. Unless recycled for sweatbands for the gym. Or made into puppets. Or used as an impromptu camera case. Or… It occurred to me that not everyone does this kind of thing. Am I cheap? Well, bras aren’t cheap, that’s for sure. And if I just threw them out? Landfill.

Something occurred to me just now, making dinner. I took the blue rubber band off the broccoli, and put it in the bowl on the shelf over the stove with its brothers, and its sisters, the pink rubber bands from asparagus, and their cousins, twist ties from the bulk food store. I don’t think I’ve EVER purchased rubber bands.

I am often wracked with guilt when I forget to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store (which is, oh, almost always). But grocery store plastic bags are used in my house for disposing of kitty litter and lining wastebaskets. Or just carrying-things-around in general. My grandmother avowed that as long as you were carrying two bags from the same store, it constituted “matching luggage”, and was okay. If I wasn’t taking home grocery store bags, I’d just be buying some other kind of plastic bag for these types of things. Sorry, Man from Glad, you silver-tongued fox.

When my first baby came, we used cloth diapers. I would wash the “disposable” baby wipes, and reconstitute them with a mix of water, baby shampoo and baby oil. Disposable diapers were strictly for road trips. When that second baby came, though, and the first was still in diapers, and I was working constantly, cloth went out the window. I still regret that. A line of fresh cloth diapers flapping about in the breeze on a bright sunny day was a lovely thing. Also, I was told by a former infection control nurse that it was absolutely the best for small bums.

We were pretty broke back then, my then-husband had trouble finding lucrative or stable work, and we had to make do, mostly. We didn’t eat a lot of meat. Once we were having company, my brother, and I made a pork roast with potatoes. Two little boys were whispering at the table, and I said, “hey, what’s up, guys?”. Boy One pointed to the roast. “What’s that?” “It’s a roast,” I said. “A what?” “Meat,” I said. “Like hamburger before it’s squished up”. My kids did not recognize meat.

I made quite a few clothes for my kids, too, sometimes cutting down my old clothes and reworking bits and pieces into vests, shorts and pants.

I am my mother’s daughter, with the mending, and sewing, and cooking, too. Mum’s hamburgers were full of mystery, lumps and globs of not-meat to extend that pricey meat as far as possible. She sewed, darned, mended, knit, crocheted, upholstered – whatever.

I remember once she came across a recipe for barbequed baloney. Dad dutifully put the rotisserie on the charcoal barbeque, and she took a big chunk of uncut baloney, scored it like a ham, slathered on barbeque sauce, and cooked it just like a ham. It was delicious. I told this to a co-worker once, and we laughed. At Christmas, when I was leaving to go up to Mum and Dad’s, she asked “Are you having barbequed baloney?”

“Don’t be silly. That’s for Easter.”

I never have the latest, greatest gadget. I drive a ten year old car. I have a flip phone. I have a rotary dial phone up in my room. They all work just fine. I had a toaster that left a burnt spot the size of a dime, for years. I only replaced it when I found a good one at a yard sale. I’d rather get things fix, or fix them myself. If something moves, and it shouldn’t – duct tape. If it doesn’t move, and it should – WD40.

I love to do these things. I feel somehow wise and clever when I make things last longer, or get a second use from them. It’s not that I’m actually cheap – I’m terrible with money. I’m good with repurposing, though. Matter can be neither created nor destroyed, it just changes forms., an’ that’s a fact, Jack.

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One response »

  1. I love that you do all those things. I wish I did all of those things. Not contributing to the landfill is so very important but there is a voice in my head that tells me it’s not cool – or something. I think there are money issues at play here (I mean, who doesn’t have those?) and that there’s a balance between being cheap and being resourceful. It’s just hard sometimes to differentiate between the two.

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