Blog post

Making Do

March 26, 2020

For different reasons, we learn to make do with less. 

Sometimes it’s because we’re questioning our toll on or contribution to the environment. Another “fast fashion” purchase feels irresponsible. So does a state-of-the-art appliance when the old one still works just fine.

Oftentimes it’s a matter of short or nonexistent paychecks that force us to distinguish the difference between “want” and “need.” Sometimes the difference is clear. Food is a need; a gourmet meal at a fancy restaurant might be a want. But there are gray areas, too. And it’s easy to convince ourselves that wants are needs when we really really want something!

Today, as we cope with the Coronavirus, learning to make do with less may be a matter of survival. No exaggeration.

Having been on the trajectory of being able to get anything and everything almost instantly hasn’t set us up well for a global pandemic, has it? Unless your toolbox is well stocked, you might find yourself needing a certain size nail or screw to complete a home repair project. Maybe you’ll run out of your favorite pens or soap. Or maybe you’ll have a hankering for that carton of ice cream you denied yourself earlier in the day on your grocery run. So many reasons for running to the store or placing an order online and having it delivered within a day or two. It’s almost as if there are fairies out there fulfilling our every wish.

Instead, those of us who are committed to staying at home — and not taxing the system by buying nonessentials online — find ourselves doing without.

I learned to be resourceful from my mother, who had little money for “non-essentials” (and sometimes even for essentials). She taught me that a little creativity not only goes a long way, it makes for a fun way, too. I discovered that if you wait out the impulse to buy, it often goes away. And I learned that taking good care of things — by cleaning them, making them function better, even shining them up — was not only frugal but wise and respectful, too.

Beyond the family budget, I don’t know much about economics. But I understand why there’s a big, confounding discussion about our limited ability to purchase right now. And I continue to look for ways to support small businesses in my community. But I also don’t think that every aspect of an individual pause on purchasing is necessarily bad. Maybe it will even foster more taking-good-care skills in us. 

How has staying at home affected you when it comes to purchases? Do you think it might make you more creative? Do you see any upside?

You might also like: Role models for a caring lifestyle.

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4 comments

  • Rae Kaiser

    March 28, 2020 at 7:21 am

    Karen, we turned our little free library into a little free pantry. And people are taking the food. I put a bottle of hand sanitizer in there too. We are 2 blocks from a middle school. I hate the thought of anyone going hungry. Great post.

    1. Karen Mary

      March 28, 2020 at 7:28 am

      What a thoughtful, creative idea, Rae! When Mr. Rogers said “Look for the helpers,” he meant people like you. You’re providing not only for the people who benefit from your free little library but for those of us finding comfort and inspiration in your actions. Thanks and stay safe!

  • Lindsey Backen

    April 18, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    I have been watching my pen supply dwindle but realized I have an entire drawer full of old pens and pencils. I tend to be a pen snob but it will be a while before I literally can’t write. And that’s alright.

    1. Karen Mary

      April 18, 2020 at 4:08 pm

      That’s such a great example of making do, Lindsey! Today I found myself using up old ribbon for a gift instead of running out to buy the “perfect” ribbon for the paper. It looks perfectly pretty, too!

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