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My Make Do and Mend Year

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by Startacus Admin

If you are a fan of Kirstie Allsopp and her various upcycling, home making and handcrafting programmes, you will dig  "My Make Do and Mend Year" Jenupcycling Gale's guest article on Startacus highlighting her quest to make, made do and mend, and buy nothing new for a whole year. Started back in September 2012, we asked Jen to write a post on her self starter journey to date. Over to Jen to explain...

"Hello. My name is Jen, I live in the South-West of England, with my lovely hubby, our two amazing little boys who are 4, and 2, and two slightly annoying cats.

In September 2012, I embarked upon My Make Do and Mend Year, a personal challenge, to go a whole year without buying anything new, and I dragged the rest of the family along for the ride.

It all started when I became aware that at the tender age of just 3, our eldest had already become quite ‘stuff’ orientated, and I realized that I wanted to try and teach our children to value people and actions, rather than ‘stuff’. This may all sound very lofty and idealistic, and at the ages of 4 and 2, I am not sure how much they are gaining from the experience, but the grown ups are certainly learning lots!

We have had our Ups and Downs along the way…

  • Christmas! We made nearly all the gifts for Christmas, and we even made a tree from egg boxes…                           

  • I ended up on a huge ‘Boot Pursuit’ that has encompassed most of the year, trying (in vain) to find a new pair of knee high boots. I will try again this Winter!

  • The blog making it through to the Finals of the BritMums Brilliance in Blogging Awardsmake and mend

  • Although in the ‘Rules’ we exempted underwear from the challenge, I now have several pairs of pants with holes in them (too much information..!?!)

  • Learning to patch trousers (and since that point, patching many, many pairs of aged 4 trousers…)

  • The things that I have missed have not been clothes, and shoes and gadgets, but things like magazines and newspapers, which was not what I was expecting!

  • A double page spread in The Sun, all about My Make Do and Mend Year

  • Breaking the washing basket, and hubby mending it about 3 times, oonly to then fall up the stairs carrying it and break it again…

  • Being asked to give a TED talk at TEDx Bedford in June of this year

  • Making a crocheted hat that looked like a bucket. On my head.

  • Realising that I am not the only person who feels the way I do about the environment and is freaking out about what is going to be left behind for our kids

Above all else, the year and the blog have been hugely empowering.

When thinking about issues as huge and potentially catastrophic as Climate Change, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and to feel that as individuals we can do very little to change anything.

But I have learned that as individuals, the only things that we can do, are what we as individuals can do.

Buying Nothing New is my small way of trying to make a difference, and I would urge anyone else to give it a go too. It really is not that hard. There are a multitude of alternative retail outlets out there-car boots; charity shops; flea markets; sites like Freecycle and Freegle where you can get things for FREE; good old-fashioned jumble sales; vintage fairs. And I now think that I could find pretty much anything we needed or wanted second-hand.

I know that I am not realistically going to save the planet by patching a few pairs of trousers and making some Christmas presents, but I hope that by doing what I am doing and blogging about it and shouting about it on social media, then other people might feel empowered to make small steps to change their lives. And if we all took some small steps, then together, we really could make a BIG difference.

My Make Do and Mend Year has not been a year of deprivation and has not really even been the challenge I thought it would be all those months ago.

It has been a year of challenges and huge creativity, and amazing opportunities.

It has changed our lives.

With regards to what happens next. Who knows. The year has been a journey, and as is often the case, it may be that the journey has been more important that the destination.

I would love to somehow make My Make Do and Mend Year into some kind of business, but have yet to figure out how! But one thing is for sure, we will not, cannot, go back to a life of mindless consumption."

If you like upcycling - you might like our previous article - It’s Upcycling (Furniture + Artists = Refound)

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Published on: 4th August 2013

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