“Make it Do” is better than recycling, International Buy Nothing Day, and homemade Christmas presents all put together.

Our daily infrastructure makes it so hard to recycle. It’s better not to buy in the first place.

The Baton Rouge Recycling Office has an excellent link to the Center for a New American Dream. The Center promotes anti-consumption, with loads of resources about cutting down on trash. The actual link about “reducing junk mail” is buried on the site. Someone at the Recycling Office is very clever. The Center’s clear anti-capitalism message will turn folks away and their junk mail will continue to clog Baton Rouge’s trash bins.

The Center advertises the “Make it Do” project. The tagline is “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.” The project creator, Meg Hourihan, made this her New Year’s resolution and blogs about her efforts.

Living up to that challenge is…a challenge. Given my frequent rants about consumption, it’s a “put your money where your mouth is” thing..or…don’t put your money where your mouth is thing. Erm.

For example, I am remodeling my kitchen. My cabinets are deteriorating. The remodeling process began when I started getting my house “market-ready” in order to sell it. This would be a bad year to try the challenge, plus, it’s already mid-May.

On the flip side, this would be the perfect year. New carpet, new paint, a new kitchen, a new look, all these things just scream, “BUY MORE STUFF!!!” The challenge just might provide the perfect mechanism to say NO to all that impulse shopping that accompanies redecorating.

Let’s see if, along with the mantra of “Reduce – Reuse – Recycle” (which I’m slowly improving), I can

Use it up

Wear it out

Make it do

Do without

With this new mantra in mind, yesterday, I got so frustrated with the newfangled fat caps of the toothpaste. They look super cool but prevent you from squeezing out every last drop of paste. The lid on this tube doesn’t twist off either. All that extra plastic. So 2010s. So un-1970s. So much plastic. That toothpaste is off the shopping list! Instead of throwing it out and ripping open the box waiting for me in the bathroom closet, I cut the damned thing off, and there’s probably a week’s worth of toothpaste in there. That packaging design is a double whammy of decreasing the availability of the product and increasing garbage. So frustrating. Still, make it do is a valuable idea.


  1. Hi LS – i’m so interested to have found your blog. we have some things in common, most especially, an ex-research oriented academic career. mine i abandoned entirely when the market forced me into adjunct work (phd in english). there is language throughout your blog – things as simple as the word “text” that ring nostaligically for me. i currently tutor kids with dyslexia and write grants and proposals. i could see myself teaching again once the kids are gone – but for now, adjuncting required too much time for too little money. anyway, this post: i tried to stay green and not consume too much during a remodeling project. the pressure to buy was intense. my contractor wanted to throw away our 5 yr. old refridgerator because it didn’t match the new “look.” i insisted on keeping it – 4 years later, it’s still in there in all it’s glaring outdatedness. so stick to your guns – only buy what you need!

    1. Author

      Thanks for your comment, Deb. I am going to try to stick to my guns. I spent the day reflecting on how this will be a good way for me to keep to my budget. In fact, I’d already begun fantasizing about things like a new sofa, television, endless list of other things. My steps went 1) Ok, so I can’t stream from Netflix without buying this stupid yadda yadda which I still haven’t done, 2) the TV is about to die soon anyway, probably within the next couple of years or less, 3) I’m redecorating and a new TV would maximize my layout options….SCREEECHING HALT………….. Wear it out…

      That TV will probably last at least a year, possibly more. Having had it repaired once or twice before, I know it won’t be worth fixing again, but why send it to the landfill earlier than necessary?

      Anyway, I bookmarked your blog. Thanks for dropping by.

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