Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Use it up. Wear it out. Make it Do, or do without."

If you lived through the 80's and the decades since you'll understand why we, as Americans, are referred to as consumers.  You, like, totally remember hairdo's with mall-bangs, spandex outside the gym, rubber bracelets, mix tapes and, like, levis commercials, ya' know?  

The economy was boomin', credit was flowin' and you could gag yourself with a spoon and buy whatever you wanted with small monthly payments.  Even more recently that whole digital TV revolution that made your parents 27" console stereo TV seem like the Edsel of TV sets.  Who would've guessed just 5 years ago that a 42" flat screen would be considered small?

You also know how much faster our landfills are filling up and have a good idea of how disposable everything has become.  From diapers to cameras to computers, appliances and TVs.  You and I are living through what I refer to as the "Great Consumption". 

Those ways are changing - They have to.  People can't afford to buy new everything when something breaks.  It's so bizarre that companies are making such expensive appliances and gadgets that are only made to last a few years.   Our planet simply can not support more people and more garbage.

Frugality is way of life in our family.  Passed down from our Great-Grandparents and beyond.  My own Great-Grandfather was the last Wagoneer discharged from the army.  My Great-Grandmother had thousands of preserves put up to last through even the harshest Montana winter.   They lived through WWII and the Great Depression and they lived well on their little dairy farm in Northwestern Montana.   My husband's Grandparents are ledgend in their little part of the world and they had similar family values.   Don't get me wrong - They were every bit as disfunctional as any family today, only without the easily obtained divorce as an option. 

They took care of their home and each other.  They didn't lament over what they didn't have.   They fixed things that needed fixing.   They were "re-using" and "re-purposing" a hundred years before those phrases became such popular buzz words of today.   It's worrisome to me that so many people don't consider canning, sewing, budgeting, hunting and home repair to be vital life skills. It's sad that funding cuts meant the end of shop and home-ec classes while sports are considered vital.

What can we do now to live better for less?  Teach our children those vital life skills.  Teach sons and daughters how to cook and clean and budget and save.  Teach them how to fix things and preserve things.  Teach them that living better doesn't happen at Walmart and lasting realtionships don't happen on Facebook.  Teach them that handmade means more than shopping on Etsy and recycling means more than sorting bins.  Teach them that frugality is not the same as cheap and buying locally matters.   

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