Incorporating the Simple Living Review, the Preparedness & Self-Reliance Review, as well as the Outdoor & Survival Review

Make Do and Mend

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This is a philosophy that I grew up with as a child as much as I grew up in hand-me-downs whether this were clothes, bicycles, or what-have-you, and it is one that I have never forgotten. I still practice this philosophy – nowadays known as
practical recycling – in various forms to this very day.

Already as a small boy I developed the habit, and it has – unfortunately some of my friends would say – stayed with me, of picking up anything from the streets, the woodland paths, the hedgerows, and so on that might just come in handy. Old nails and screws; nuts and bolts; tools that have been lost or thrown away; old knives; and much more are in that category. Among the knives that I have found there have been knives for the re-working into sheath knives as well as pocketknives with nothing wrong with them; there have been spanners and wrenches, screwdrivers, and many other tools; the list would be far too long to write down.

This habit also applies with me to making use of everything that can be, in one way or another, re-worked into something else, whether this be old and worn Jeans into Ditty/Possibles bags or other things; old kitchen and butcher’s knives into “new” sheath knives. The leather of old boots, shoes and bags will be made into the sheath for such knives and/or into other items such as belt pouches for folding-knives, compass, pocket-watch, and so on. There is only one severe drawback to such a habit and that is the need for a fairly large storage area in your home for all the things ”that might come in handy some day”.

During WWII in England booklets galore were published by the Ministry (and there was a shortage of things but they seemed to have enough paper to produce those official booklets) on the very subject of
Make DO & Mend telling people, for instance, of how to change adult clothes into underclothes for children; to convert Dad’s old cotton shirts into nightshirts for the boys, and so on.

The philosophy and attitude of
making DO also applied in those days to digging up one’s flowerbeds and “digging for victory” by growing vegetables there instead of flowers in one’s garden. That could also still be a very valuable philosophy today to – instead of filling the garden up with grass and flowers, which may be esthetically pleasing to the eye and all that don’t feed no-one. Growing at least some of one’s own vegetables and such could give one some more cash in one’s pocket. Vegetables can – in actual fact – grown behind say a flowery border in a garden and look quite nice as well. The trees in one’s garden should not be ornamental this or that but fruit trees such as apples, pears, cherries, walnut and hazelnut, and anything else in that league and the ground beneath such trees should be utilized by vegetables and soft fruit such as strawberries. Also grow your own culinary and medicinal herbs in your garden, including such beneficial plants as Aloe Vera. If the weather isn’t suited for growing the latter out-of-doors than grown those in pots in the house. The same can also be done with many other herbs and spices. And if you have no garden to grow your own vegetables and such but live, for instance, in a trailer park with only hard-standing of concrete then you can use various forms of containers such as the raised bed, tubs made of various things such as old bathtubs even, and also old automotive tires. Even fruit trees can be grown in containers.

M Smith (Veshengro), June 2008

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