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December 08, 2015

Make It Last

I’m more than slightly obsessed with extending the lifespan of the things I own and getting the most use out of them as possible. I didn’t start my blog, ReFashionista because I was an eccentric millionairess looking for something to do, you know?

I grew up in a family that planted their own veggies, didn’t replace the carpet just because it was threadbare, and that had the same furniture (with the exception of an occasional DIYed Goodwill find) from 1980 to 2000. Suede boots were always leather-proofed before they were worn, and nicer “school” clothes were swapped with well-worn “play” clothes the moment the kids got home from school.

This frugality has stuck with me, regardless of what my financial status may be at the time. Call it cheap if you like, but this desire to take care of, mend, reconstruct, and recycle my belongings until they are no longer of any possible use is something I’m actually pretty proud of. I’m not just saving money. I’m living a resourceful life wherein I value my belongings and take care of them.

Here are just a few of my favorite ways to get extra life out of my belongings.

1. Regrow veggies from scraps.

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Never buy lettuce again!

Did you know that several of the veggies you buy on a regular basis, like green onions, garlic, celery, and lettuce can be re-grown from their scraps? Just stick those green onion bulbs in a pot of dirt, and never be caught without them again.

2. Wash your delicates (and nicer washables) by hand.

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It admittedly looks a little sad.

I remember living in a tiny dodgy apartment while I was in college that had no washer/dryer. When money was tight, I hand washed my clothes in the kitchen sink, then hung them above the radiator. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I wasn’t just saving laundromat change, I was also extending the life of my wardrobe. Even now, I still check the labels of my clothing fastidiously, making sure anything that requires a more delicate wash never ends up in my machine.

3. Speaking of laundry…make your own detergent.

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It works…I promise!

It’s incredibly easy and super-inexpensive to make your own laundry detergent. The recipe I use is low on sulfates, so it works for high-efficiency machines as well as those old top-loaders. Your scent options are as limitless as bar soap fragrances.

4. Mend and repair rather than buy new.

Do you really need a new white button-up shirt just because one of the buttons fell off? No. You do not. If you have time to sit and watch TV, you have time to stitch that little guy right back on. Keep an eye on the heels of your shoes. When they get worn down, take them to a cobbler and have them re-tipped. My fellow Good Lifer, Shanika recently mended a pair of her fella’s jeans using Sashiko…proof that mended clothing doesn’t have to look boring or ugly.

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5. Lend and barter.

When my friend needed a tote bag for some work travel she had coming up, I lent her one of mine. When I needed a socket wrench for a home project, I borrowed one from a neighbor. When we help each other out this way, we’re not just being good people, we’re also making the things we own even more useful.

Maybe my buddy Cole will lend me that sweet hat!

Maybe my buddy Cole will lend me that sweet hat!

How do you get the most out of your stuff?

4 Comments

  1. I take care of my leather goods by using mink oil. If you oil your leather at the beginning & at the ending of your leather wearing season. It will not crack and that leather should last you a lifetime.

  2. I’m a lot like you! Only I’m old enough to be your grandmother (maybe!) LOVE all of your posts and tips. I shop thrift stores as well. One nearby has different prices from .25 to $2.25..depending on what day you go. I make a day of it when I go. Your ideas have inspired me to see what else I might be able to do! Thanks!

  3. I am not big on hand washing, however I rarely use my dryer and hang my laundry to dry. This helps extend the life of my clothes, sheets and towels significantly. I also keep anything that isn’t being used unplugged. I also save money by skipping the blow-out/style at my hair salon, to include changing from going every 6 weeks to every 8 weeks.

  4. Jillian your looking very cute next to the baby faced fella in the bear hat! Tell me about that lettuce! Is it really as simple as that? Just Dirt, core/heart of lettuce,celery? How deep of a container? Both of those vegs are things that go bad B 4 I get to them..anything else you can do like that?
    Thanks