JENMy Make Do and Mend Year

One of the things I am loving most about the new Directory on Make Do and Mend-able is that I get to find out about all kinds of amazing projects and businesses, who are doing their bit to promote Make Do and Mend, and their bit to #makeitbetter.
Stitched Up is one of those organisations, and I’m so excited to be doing a blog post swap with them.

Make Do and Mend-able launched in March of this year, and aims to promote Making Do and Mending, rather than buying new, in an effort to preserve our resources, and start a conversation around consumption and sustainability, with a crafty focus!

The site was born out of a year we spent Buying Nothing, which highlighted to me loads of issues around consumption, and fast fashion, and waste, and so much more.

My Make Do and Mend Year began in September 2012, and I started a blog to document our journey.  I dragged my family (hubby, and our two boys, who at the time were 3 and 1 ½) along for the ride, and as clichéd as it sounds, it was a life changing experience.

Hubby and I sat down and thrashed out some ‘rules’ for the year-we decided we could buy food, toiletries, and shoes for the kids (I wanted to know that they fitted properly). We also agreed that it would be ok to buy a new part to fix something that broke, instead of having to ditch something repairable. Oh, and underwear, we said we could buy new pants!

I went into the year a little naively, just thinking it would be a fun challenge, and not really giving a huge amount of thought to the implications, other than having to find some new ‘retail outlets’.
But I learned so much about a really wide range of issues: fast fashion; resource depletion; running out of landfill; loss of basic skills to name a few.
And I learned about fabulous movements that are working to address some of these problems. I learned about Swishing, and started up a Swish in my town. I also found out about Repair cafes (where you can take your broken stuff and volunteer fixers are on hand to show you how to fix them), and skill sharing, and zero waste.

I learned new skills like patching holes in jeans (what seemed like endless pairs of jeans!), and I wrestled with whether sending my son to pre-school with patched knees was going to mean he would be picked on (it didn’t!).
And I got pushed out of my comfort zone, with interviews on local radio, and my first ever public speaking ‘gig: a TED talk at TEDx Bedford!!

But the biggest thing I learned, was that we all make choices, consciously or unconsciously, everyday. Choices about what we buy, where we buy it from, where it has been made, and who made it.
And we can all take responsibility for those choices, and choose to make better ones.
Big issues like fast fashion, and resource depletion are overwhelming, and paralysing. But we can make a change with the choices we make. We just have to stop, and think, and choose. And make the right choices not only for us, but for our local community, and the wider world.

That might sound really worthy, and it’s not meant to.
I’m just trying to get across the empowerment I felt when we stopped buying new, and I started making positive choices about the world I wanted.
Each of us can do that.
We can choose to put our money, our time, towards things that will make the world a better place, instead of depleting it.
And it doesn’t even have to be hard!
Going to a Swish instead of hitting the High Street, or snapping up some bargain second-hand fabric at one of Stitched Up’s yard sales, instead of buying cheap fabric, made by who knows who, and in what kind of conditions, are both examples of how easy, and how much more fun it can be, to consume more consciously.

If you’re inspired to have a Make Do and Mend week, month, or even year, then take a look at Stitched Up’s fabulous range of events and workshops-you could learn to make some Upcycled Undies, or simply hire a sewing machine if you don’t own one yourself.

And if you’re reading this and you’re not near Stitched Up, then do check out the Make Do and Mend-able Directory, for classes, workshops and repair and re-use events (like Swishes and Repair Cafes) near you!

Thankyou so much to Stitched Up for having me, and for all the inspiration you provide!

Jen x

Make Do and Mend-able