Buy less, make more

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

DIY is not dead, just asleep for the moment with many.

In today's world we are constantly bombarded with advertisements telling us to buy more, more and still more. A little bit like the recycling admonition by governments that basically say recycle, recycle more and then recycle still more. The more seems to be the key to everything, it would appear, as far as some are concerned.

We are living in a constant perpetual growth economy which is not sustainable, neither financially, for us, nor ecologically for the Planet, and we, as “consumers” are the only ones that can make a difference here through our actions.

Reuse-Pro Alex Eaves recently wrote on Facebook: “Our votes for the kind of progressive, positive world that we want are in our back pocket. So, do we support something enough to spend our money on it? And equally as important, are we against something enough to not spend our money on it? Our world can be better. And we can make that happen. - Let's do this.” One cannot add much more to those words and sentiments. It is exactly thus.

Instead of buying more and more and then still more, of things that we do not need, let’s make things again by reuse and upcycling.

All too often, and even if I am in danger of repeating myself here, what we perceive as needs are all but wants suggested to us by clever advertising as something that we desperately need in order to be happy, more productive, and whatever else may be the case. And this goes for so many things, I am afraid, including things that, if we do “need” them, we could and can make ourselves for no or little money and (virtually) zero impact on the environment and the Planet's resources. But we have been so brainwashed towards consumption, to buying, that we cannot, it would appear, even thing about making those things ourselves.

Simple reuse, dare I say it again, of things that otherwise end up in the waste stream or, if we are lucky, are recycled, or downcycled, by being broken up and then made into something else, is one way of making – often ready made – things we may want (or even need). An empty glass jar becomes a drinking vessel, a storage container, a vase, or even a wind light. A clean empty tin can becomes a pencil bin or whatever else. The back of envelopes notepaper and so on. And that is just simple reuse.

Then there is upcycling – though some of the reuse mentioned above already fits that category – in that you makes something of greater from a piece of waste material and that is followed by “proper” DIY when you make things from scratch, though the raw materials can still be items of waste.

When it comes to making things ourselves wood is often the raw material that comes most handy and useful and wood has been the material that our ancestors have used. But aside from that there are all those things that normally would go into the waste stream that also have a use in the making of things for ourselves instead of falling into the consumption trap.

It is true that we cannot make everything that we may need and especially want but we should make as much as we can ourselves, by any possible means, rather than falling for all those advertising messages that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Start small and do a little more every day and soon you will no longer want to buy everything as making things is so rewarding.

© 2015