Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Who needs a fancy treadmill?

Many years ago I read a story in a glossy women's magazine about a lady who wanted to get fit and lose weight. She asked her husband if he would buy her a treadmill so that she could run at home while their baby slept. He didn't believe she would actually use it so he bought her the cheapest second hand treadmill he could find - a non motorised one!
The magazine article showed the lady's before and after pictures showing how she had transformed her body through hard-work on her cheap and basic treadmill.  
Once she had achieved this and proved to her husband that she did indeed use the treadmill a lot, she asked if he would buy her a new fancy treadmill. He replied to this that no, he wouldn't as clearly you didn't need an expensive fancy treadmill to get results - a cheap one does the job just as well!

This story has stuck with me as an example of using what you've got - rather than needing to spend lots of money on the latest and greatest!

Just buy a....

Most people buy things when they find they need something. The answer is generally to 'spend money' instead of using what you've already got.  

You don't have to have a 'gadget' to do everything for you.  So many things are unnecessary and overkill.  My kitchen is one that has definitely been cluttered and filled up over the years with all the latest 'gadgets' and 'tools' that friends and family and myself have bought - things that 'make your life a little easier' !  

But do we really need them?  No!

I remember as a student at university, we were good at using what we had - thanks to our poor finances - 
for example making pizza and not having a rolling pin to roll out the dough - so we used a wine bottle!  It worked perfectly!

If it's broken...throw it out and buy a new one!

Things get replaced when they are no longer 'perfect' or 'new' when actually they are still good to use.
Mugs are a great example of this. On my parents' last visit to us, they asked if they could buy us a new set of mugs as they'd noticed a lot of ours had chips in them.  
I had to stop them being so 'helpful' as I'm quite happy with our mug selection - chips and all.  A chip doesn't make a mug unusable!

Made to 'break'

These days things are often not made to last - how many times have you bought something that broke just after the 1 year warranty was up?   Things are not created to be fixed and repaired, they are made to be thrown away and replaced.  Some of this is because technology is progressing faster and faster and people don't want to repair an old model of something, they are happy to just replace it with the newer fancier model!

The frustrating thing I find, is that even if you try to fix or repair things, unless you can do it yourself, it costs more to repair something that it does to buy a new one! 
I found this recently with my waterproof watch, the cost of replacing the battery and a tiny broken seal, wasn't worth it as it would have cost more than the watch did in the first place! Crazy!!

Even more crazy is something like a computer printer. At times I've looked at the prices on offer for the basic printer we use, and it would be cheaper to buy a whole new printer that comes with ink than to buy a new ink cartridge for the old one!  

Use What You've Got

To use what you've got is a skill that kids need to learn. It requires creativity, problem solving and practical skills that can be useful in so many aspects of life. It is also better for the environment and our often our own personal finances too.

For years now I've been the one that people come to when they need something.  I've used a band aid to temporarily fix the strapping on a hockey stick so a kid could play, held costumes together at the last minute for a school play with safety pins. I keep things with me in my handbag or car that may be useful, but also am aware of what is around me that can be put to use too.  Our girls now also do this - with things like safety pins kept in their school bag for emergencies!

I know I gained these skills thanks largely to my upbringing. Mum and Dad were always making things from wood, fabric or whatever we had on hand.

A couple of years ago, my Dad was visiting us here in Australia and went out for a bike ride. He got a puncture and rather than replace the inner tube he decided to try something he'd read about. At the time he was passing a field of grass that had just been cut. He stopped and used the cut grass to stuff his tyre full and then rode home with it like that!  He said it wasn't great but did work - definitely a possible bike fix if you get a puncture and don't have a spare inner tube with you!

More than one use for stockings!

Something else that has stuck with me from years ago is this TV advert, where a lady uses a stocking to replace a broken fan belt in her car! No mobile phones back in those days to call for help - you had to be resourceful and able to help yourself!! Take a look.

Old Fence and Walls Repurposed

Around our house, there are so many things I've made, using what we had on hand.  When we moved into the house, we removed part of the main fence around the property, which gave me lots of wood to make things with!  We also knocked a couple of walls out inside the house, providing a few concrete blocks which we then used to make garden beds with! And we also had drainpipe left by the builders when they added our patio roof - this was perfect for a drinks cooler holder!

In my sewing, as you may know if you follow my blog - I also use what I've got - sewing with whatever I have on hand.  The majority of the fabric in my stash is from charity shops or given to me by friends who have been clearing out. I use old clothes, especially jeans for fabric, and also things like old pool toys and car windscreen shades.

Christmas Shouldn't Cost the Earth

Last year I started a page on my blog to share ideas for Christmas crafting that doesn't cost the Earth - both in terms of money, and eco-friendly things that are upcycled, repurposed and generally made using resources we already have rather than buying new.

There are ideas for decorations, cards, bags, advent calendars, gifts.... anything you can think of for Christmas.

This year I'm continuing to add to these ideas and also together with some other bloggers will be hosting

12 Days of Christmas DIY Challenges

where we will be 'challenging" and encouraging people to use what they've got to create things for Christmas! It all starts on November 2nd - so watch this space! I do hope lots of people will join in and share their own creative ideas for using what you've got!

How about you?

Do you 'use what you've got'?  Do you make full use of the resources you have available to you? Or do you prefer to just buy what you need?  I'd love to hear your stories too!


  1. Your philosophy is mine. Brava, my upcycling, recycling, eco friendly friend!

    1. Thanks Mich!

      At least we know we're doing our bit for our little corners of the planet! and hopefully encouraging others too!

  2. This is some good reads and very encouraging. I have not really bought anything in awhile. I see and read your sight and other sights you posted. And then I have been seeing segments on TV also. I have clothes I have not wanted to get rid of and have seen how I can reinvent them for a different look. And how I can up-cycle others. And all the crafts I can do with what I got. Which intern is saving me a lot of $$$$

    1. Thanks Elsa! Yep, using what we've got certainly does save money and I think more and more people are doing things this way!

  3. Another magnificent blog post of you! I totally agree and try to use what I've got. My husband think's the same way, and it stimulates our creativity!
    It also makes me feel good to know that it's our little contribution to our earth.
    So..let's keep up the good work and even try a little harder!
    Have a nice week,

    1. Thanks Sigrid! I think the more we all do and share with others, the more people will start to use what they've got too! Hope you have a lovely week too!! :)

  4. Hi Jill.. A very inspiring post! I try to upcylce and use what I've got. I am also thinking of hand made Christmas ornaments. Like felt ones, like pine cone ones. Also I try to upcylce t-shirts, and make a back of a pillow case for example plus a crochet front cover :) Let's see how it all works.

    1. Thank you!! There are so many great ideas for hand made Christmas ornaments - and they look so pretty too - would love to see what you make! And that pillowcase idea sounds great too!!

  5. Excellent blog Jill!! I also hate how this are way too disposable at the moment!

    1. Thanks Esther! At least people are becoming aware of the problem now and trying to do something about it - however slowly! Something is better than nothing and hopefully the idea of using what you've got will gain momentum!

  6. Yes I hate living in a throw away culture too. Fixing, mending and using what is to hand is certainly what I often try to do but sometimes it just can't be done - e.g. brake system on my car - had to have a new one fitted. Will certainly be looking out for your Christmas postings starting Nov - could help me save a few £££s :)
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    1. Yes, not everything can be fixed and there are things that need replaced with new, but we do what we can! Hope to see you back for our challenge in November!!

  7. I totally agree with your sentiments and I find your article encouraging. Looking forward to the Christmas challenge - hope to learn lots of new things! One small thing I do is use the free greeting cards received from various charities - I dress them up with glitter, ribbons, paper quillings and other unique items to make them special. I don't purchase holiday cards any longer. Your reusable fabric holiday cards are quite unique & fun.

    1. Thank you! That's a great idea to pretty up plain Christmas cards to make them more personal!

  8. Great post Jill. I love to reuse things where and when I can. I have a mother in law who buys me new cups ever so often but I never chuck the old ones out. Now I have a cupboard full of odd sets :):) Thanks for sharing at Creative Mondays

    1. Glad I'm not the only one with lots of odd mugs!! We all have our favourites in our house and it's nice to have the variety I think! Little chips, scuffs and marks add character and memories I think!

  9. This is a great post and so true about how people buy stuff just to buy. I don't do this anymore. LOL, I love to reuse items as much as possible. Thank you for linking up at Dishing it and Digging it link party. It's fun having you and hope to see you this Sunday.

  10. Unfortunately things are not designed to last any more. A great post, Jill.

    1. Thanks Pam! Hopefully things will change over time and we'll go back to some quality over fast cheap quantity!


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