Living Well by Making Do


Photo by Sarah Joplin

Long before the saying “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” came into being, there was a common phrase which simply said: “Make do.” It goes hand in hand with “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and implies making use of what you have on-hand, items and materials you have readily available. Making do with what you have to accomplish a given task has been the prevalent approach for eons.

Now we “up-cycle” as a work-around when really we are finding an item with which we can make do, using something we already have rather than feeling compelled to buy the “right” item for the job. After all, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. And making do is an essential, if unspoken part of self-sufficiency not to mention a great way to employ creativity and ingenuity.

It’s gratifying not only to find a way to achieve your end by employing, reusing or repurposing an item but it is also a joy to utilize long-neglected things that still have perfect utility which you’ve either saved for a rainy day or long forgotten.

For instance, we’ve been renovating our antiquated barn for several years and have saved stacks and piles of wood cut-offs from various parts of the re-construction. These include odd shaped and sized 2-by-4s and other dimensional lumber, scraps of OSB board, and nail-ridden old-growth oak and walnut used to build the barn in the first place. The construction crew wanted to burn or trash these remnants but my boyfriend insisted on keeping them. It turns out they come in handy for all sorts of projects!

When it came time to build out his shop, many of these cast-offs made perfect small shelves, drawer bottoms and sides, and bench materials. Instead of wasting this perfectly usable wood, we saved money, made space and had JUST the right pieces for a variety of applications.

6/5/2020 5:59:21 PM

Sarah, I started life on a farm in Nebraska. The saying I heard often was all you can fix any thing with a piece of bailing wire and a pair of pliers. Today I would say that saying could be, "You and fix any thing with Gorilla glue and Duct Tape." I too have pile of odds and ends that come in handy when I'm working on projects around the garden. Every one that knows me will let me know when they are getting rid of stuff to see if I want any of it. I have collected lots of useful things over the years. So here's to make do. Nebraska Dave Urban Farmer

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