Monday, 13 December 2010


I can't help it. I just hate seeing anything going to waste. Perhaps it's the influence of grandparents who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930's followed by the austerity and rationing of the War years, and parents who were born just before the advent of the Second World War.

Both my Grandmothers were (and my Mum is) great advocates of making do and mending, preserving food during times of abundance to keep for the 'hard times', making inventive new meals from left overs, scraping every last smear of jam from the jar, squirrelling away safety pins and rubber bands and lengths of string; or scraps of ribbon or lace or fabric to 'make things over'. None of them would have dreamed of throwing away today's cold, leftover veg which could be transformed into tomorrow's bubble & squeak, or soup, or casserole. Each of them had a 'button box' to store buttons cut from old garments (themselves usually handed down, passed on, restyled or - if they were beyond redemption - used as rags). I used to love playing with the contents of the button boxes, sorting their shiny contents into colours, or shapes, or sizes.

Somewhere along the line, this behaviour rubbed off on me, and I too love being inventive with leftovers, I have my own stashes of pins, string, fabric and rubber bands, and even my own button box. I look hard at things before chucking them to see if they have a possible chance at re-use, and recycling has become second nature.
Sometimes that's a good thing. I can feel pretty good about my minimal contributions to landfill sites and my habit of only buying a replacement for something when it dies completely must have saved me quite a fair amount of money over the years. On the other hand it does also result in gluts of jams and chutneys, I'm usually at least 5 years out of date with gadgets (mobile phone the size of a house brick, anyone?), and well, yes, I am a terrible hoarder. With a cry of 'That will come in useful one day!' my cupboards (and drawers, and the outbuildings, and the garage) soon fill up, and it is oh so hard to contemplate throwing any of it away because, well - you never know when it might come in handy.

Like most things in life, there must be balance. It is one thing to save yourself money and save the planet from drowning in consumables, yet it is quite another to find yourself overwhelmed by boxes of 'stuff that might come in useful one day'. My own challenge seems to be in keeping the hoarding instinct under control. Now that T has removed all the things he wants from the house, I need to take a deep breath and start sorting out what is left into what is truly loved, needed and/or useful and that which is merely taking up space. I suspect the local charity shops will soon get very sick of seeing me arrive with yet another box of donations for them to re-home, and at some point I may even get really ruthless and make a trip or two to the local dump.

On the other hand, I don't want to totally lose the thrifty habit. It's good for my bank balance and it's good for the planet when I reduce, reuse, repair, repurpose, recycle. And I still love playing with the contents of the button box occasionally!

In these cash-strapped times, I thought it may even be useful to pass on a few thrifty ideas via the blog. These will be many and assorted, ranging from ideas for re-using things and materials, to recipes and even spells. I'll label each with the tag 'ThriftWitch' so you can find them easily.

My first ThriftWitch tip will be 'The Clean Start Soap Spell' appearing in the next day or so. Stay tuned!


Paul Rousselle said...

I look forward to those posts :-D

Paul Rousselle said...

I look forward to your hints and titbits!

Griffin said...

Just had two thoughts... one, you might want to be a curator! They love to collect stuff too!!

Two, if you can't use some things because you haven't time. You could give them away in small collections to anyone who wants 'em. Good luck thrifting. Like a curator, I am better at collecting rather than getting rid of stuff... especially books... sigh!

willow said...

I have a button box or two and left over fabric and yarn. I have made things from these oddments so I justify keeping them. Not quite sure that I will ever use all the plastic flower pots I have stored in the shed though!
Looking forward to your thrifty posts.

Monica @ Boho Mystic said...


i went through this same thing over the last few years.

i finally decided that i could live if the day came when i exclaimed, "duh' i could have used that bit of string i threw away".
clutter and STUFF was no longer justifying itself.

it's a process.... good luck!