Being self employed a lot of the success (or failure) I feel, sadly, has money at the root of it. Have I made enough this month for X, Y, Z? Have I spent too much on new supplies? Have I put myself out there enough to reap the benefits next month? (Plus always the niggling, have I written it all down to make tax time easier for myself?) Luckily for me I have always been thrifty. I don’t like wasting money, and if I have to spend it I like to shop around. Some would call it cheap… I call it sensible. I like to re-use things, packaging, wrapping paper, things I might be able to give second life to, or re-purpose as part of one of my creations. I’m one of those people who keep things ‘just in case I need it later’. This has been especially handy if I have an off month, money wise, I’m not like this because of self employment, or being a bit poor, it’s ingrained in my being. I’ve always been this way.
My proud ‘I knew I could find a use for it’ moment of the week was re-purposing this spoon collecting/ display rack. I found it by the side of the road around six months ago. After a good scrub I ferreted it away till I could think what purpose it could possibly provide. I thought maybe a fair display but was unconvinced. Then it hit me, chain separation! As I buy chain in giant spools and make necklaces out of it myself, I’m always looking for ways (that don’t involve a million plastic bags) to keep it separated and untangled so I can have it on hand and ready to go. Simple, effective, free.
Another reason I’m like this, I suppose, is my rejection of the common ‘throw away’ attitude that seems to be at the root of our culture. If something breaks, I’ll give fixing it a shot. The effort that goes into buying a replacement component and fixing it myself is far less than the strain on our resources as a planet than just buying another one, no matter how cheap it might be financially to replace (usually with a nasty product of low quality from China that will brake soon after it’s bought anyway). It wasn’t so long ago that ‘Make do and Mend’ wasn’t a catchy slogan, but a wartime way of life.
I like to think that, in life, this attitude has served me well. But now that I rely on the things I make (and sell) to live I’ve been finding it harder, not easier. It’s important to only put out into the world my best work. Damaged things, things that aren’t ‘quite there’ just won’t do. This means waste… I find it so hard being tough with myself, as quality control is so important… and so is not wasting. It’s a constant struggle. So I pour all of my ‘make do and mend’ into my personal life instead!
On my recent trip to Japan I found a shop that sold shoe heels. Having always been someone that values a pair of good shoes and pays an arm and a leg (it’s not cheap, sadly) to get them re-soled I bought two packets. The kiwi ‘do it yourself’ attitude that has always been part of me kicked it… how hard could it be? The answer is, HARD. Of course I didn’t practice on any old pair of shoes, I did my favourite pair. The first step, of course is to wrench off the old soles, at which point there is no going back. It was after doing this that I realised what a mistake it had been. All in all the main reason this was so difficult is I didn’t have the appropriate tools, but oh did I give it a good try! The first one was so tricky it took me a week to pluck up the courage to do the second one… They are all finished now, and I’ve never been prouder that I gave it a go myself, however next time I’ll be going to a professional…
It’s all about doing what we can, with what we have. The answer to some of my origami related waste was solved with a simple, clever (if I do say so myself) solution. If you see me at a fair, I usually have a small bowl of origami on my table with a ‘free’ sign above it. This is my small, inconsequential answer to waste. The kids get something to take home for free and I don’t have to feel bad about putting more than necessary in the bin. It’s win, win! It only scratches the tip of the iceberg… but it helps me sleep at night.