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My Make Do and Mend Year

By Jen

Daisy follows lots of people on Twitter and Facebook and that’s where we found Jen, an absolute gem and here is her story;

Hello, my name is Jen, I live in the South-West of England, with my lovely hubby, our two fantastic, amazing little boys-BigSmall who is four, and SmallSmall who is one, and two crazy cats called Nigella and Clarrisa.

In September 2012, I embarked upon My Make Do and Mend Year, a personal challenge, to go a whole year without buying anything new. So I can choose to Make, Make Do, or Mend, but I can’t buy new. Second hand, pre-loved, re-conditioned, vintage, retro is most definitely allowed though.

Why am I doing this?

Good question! Essentially, because making do and mending is good for the planet, good for the bank balance and good for the soul!

In our family, we are in the very fortunate position where we have nearly everything we need, and most of what we want. We really don’t need any more stuff. And the planet certainly doesn’t need any more stuff. And my bank balance could do with a break from buying stuff! It also dawned on me that the things in our house that I like the most, are the one’s that have taken a bit of thought and time and love (a bit like the children…), and not the instant fixes we’ve gone out and bought with little or no thought.

If I can just stop for a minute before I buy things, and think ‘do I really need this?’ then I might buy less, buy better and spend less. If I don’t really need it, then I have to ask how much I want it, and if I really want it, then I should be prepared to wait a little bit longer and look a little bit harder, until I find what I want second hand, or can make something similar!

My Make Do and Mend Year started off as a bit of fun, following me in my possibly slightly crazy quest, and hopefully inspiring a few people along the way to give it a go themselves. But as it has progressed, the importance of each and every one of us trying to live a more sustainable life has become clearer and clearer. I imagined that it would just affect what we bought, but it has become all encompassing! I am just about to embark on Wiltshire Wildlife’s Waste Watchers campaign, in an effort to reduce the amount of waste we produce (which goes full circle really, because the waste you produce is a direct result of what you buy), and  I am also getting involved in local politics, trying to reinvigorate my local town! We are also looking at trying to shop more locally, to help support the town’s businesses.

Here are a few of the Make Do and Mend highlights so far!

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

• Learning how to patch trousers!

• Discovering new ‘retail outlets’ such as car boots, flea markets and charity shops!

I can honestly say that I am really enjoying the whole experience. It has changed our lives, and it has bought me loads of new experiences (like appearing on local radio!).

If you are reading this, you are obviously already ‘engaged’ in trying to live a more sustainable life, but I hope that in doing what I’m doing, and spreading the word, it will encourage others to think a little bit about their lives, and the impact that their consumer choices make on the planet and their community.

I also hope that I can demonstrate that it is possible to live a greener, more sustainable life and still be ‘normal’ and ‘mainstream’. Each and every one of us can make a big difference by changing little things, and thinking a little bit more.

You don’t have to go the whole hog (I’m a bit of an all-or-nothing type gal!) but just the odd bit of Make Do and Mend here and there will make a difference. Go on, you know you want to!

Follow me throughout the rest of my year,  here on the blog:


Suzanne Whelan

Happy and sassy and definitely sustainable.
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