Using things to death
photo by aussiegall
We live in a throwaway society. We’re so wasteful that people known as freegans (www.freegan.info), an anticonsumer environmentalist group, can salvage and survive, by choice, on what mainstream consumers discard. While they’re often criticized as being extreme or downright nasty, I couldn’t disagree more. I think it certainly reflects the amount of waste generated, and I’m pleased these items aren’t simply tossed and going into landfills. Maybe to you it’s garbage they’re sifting through, but there’s more to it. They’re making a statement that goes against materialism and overconsumption. In a way, freegans are like soul cousins to tightwads. We both simply prefer to take advantage of the full usable life of goods.
Many frugal discussions on my forums (www.frugalvillage.com/forums) include topics such as using items to death. It’s interesting to note the camaraderie among like-minded members. It gives me hope that we can make a difference. In order not to appear fanatical by carrying on about global warming, waste and poverty, I’ll share a bit about wearing out common goods. I’m doing so to show you that if there’s not a little frugality in you already, there easily could be. Why? Because it’s simply the right thing to do.
LINENS: From comforters to towels, frugal-minded folks are holding onto these items until they’re threadbare. It does my heart good to hear from one reader who has a 31-year-old comforter and another who has 27-year-old towels. It’s not uncommon for these items to be used as rags for many years after their original purpose. While there isn’t anything wrong with buying new, if an item has plenty of life in it or needs only a simple repair, there’s no true need to toss it. What happened to this type of thinking?
CLOTHING: Remember when cutting jeans into shorts, patching them and then making them into quilts once they were unwearable was common sense? Winter coats weren’t bought every year. Shoes that were worn out were used for outdoor work until they literally fell apart, and who had more than a dozen pairs? Clothing was bought as needed.
KITCHENWARE: Dishes and flatware were once passed down to children when they moved out. Now it seems everyone wants brand-new and everything immediately. They’ll buy plastic this and that and toss and buy new on a fashion whim. While some appliances are wonderful for convenience, I can’t stop shaking my head at the gadgets that are available. However did we get by without hot-dog and hot-cocoa makers?
I don’t want my children to think I had to walk uphill 10 miles to school in a snowstorm, but I do want them to understand what is good enough. We have better use for our money such as saving or sharing it, and because I want my children to care about their impact on the environment, the economic state of our country and our humanity. What a concept!