the gift of thrift A manifesto for marrying the parsimony of our ancestors with the styles of the present
Jane Macdougall begins a campaign to prove that frugality can be fun — and she needs your help.
If you still have a hard time remembering that the year ends in a 10, you’re aware that we’re living in what was once considered the future.
Which means that now, things should be different. After the economic crash, and now that we know the planet is running out of stuff. You know, resources, like water. And we’re running out of ways to safely dispose of stuff.
Oddly though, in the first weeks of this future, we still spend a great deal of our time pursuing the acquisition of more stuff. Clearly, some rethinking is on order.
Welcome to WN2.
As in Waste Not, Want Not. Where thrift is not only the new black, but your new favourite colour.
Thrift: the quality of using money and other resources thoughtfully and not wastefully. The premise of WN2 is that thrift sorts out a whole bunch of our current problems.Better than a shiny new gadget, thrift will improve your life. It can make your bank account richer, your planet greener and your life waaaay cooler. Did I mention that it will also make you richer? Yes, thrift can do all that.
That’s because thrift is sleek and sexy and comes in one million fabulous flavours.
And yes, I said sexy. Because thrift is creative. And there’s nothing sexier than creativity.
WN2 is going to show you how better choices can deliver a better life on a greener planet.
You’ll see that there’s wealth within the money you already have and that those savings can be banked in your very own sustainability program – you know, the one called personal savings account. And don’t for a minute think that I’m talking about a life of deprivation. Thrift enhances your individuality, it showcases your problem solving abilities and it distinguishes you from the herd. If it came in a bottle, you’d pay good money for all the things thrift can do.
Together with your contributions, WN2 is going to take you by the hand and light the way. The way out from consumption obesity, mindless acquisition and the soulless pursuit of stuff. The way out from being an impoverished, interchangeable place holder instead of a unique human being. I like to think of it as a return to thinking. So, why be one OF a million, when you can be one IN a million?
WN2: Waste Not, Want Not. Let the fun begin!
WHO AM I, ANYWAY?
I’m Jane. I’m a single mom. I have two kids. On any given Monday, my house looks like an ATV course. Little has changed by Friday. It gets worse on the weekends.
If you judged me by my callouses, you’d presume I have a wealth of practical skills. I don’t. I do what I do because I bleed plaid. Yes, I’m undilutedly Scottish and you know what they say about Scots.
I have more needs than I have cash, and necessity is, after all, the mother of invention.
I’m constantly heedful of the rainy day, and increasingly, of the pending acid rainy day.
Speaking of invention, creativity stops me dead in my tracks. Maybe it’s because I have a degree in Art History and will defend that choice as being a perfect inter-disciplinarian inquiry into the world and its people. It also taught me how to really see things.
My life, probably like yours, has been nothing like I expected it to be. If it had been twice as tough as I imagined, it would have been a fraction as challenging as it turned out.
And that’s OK, because it’s been an exhilarating ride.
Oddly, the more complicated my life got, the happier I became. I think that’s because my values became clearer.
The benefit of a few harsh realities is that I now know that there is no free lunch. For me. For you. For nations.For the planet.
Along the way I discovered that I am powerful beyond my wildest imaginings. More capable than I suspected. Savvier than I gave myself credit for.
I also discovered what I am not: I am not my handbag, my car, my cell phone, my plasma screen TV.
But I am powerful.I believe that you, too, are powerful. We all are. Recent ‘norms’ have kicked the stuffing out of generations of common sense, leaving many casualties in their wake — or more accurately, in the landfill.
I think there are legions of us waiting to hear our own voices, give the heave-ho to the hard sell and get back to something real.
It took me forever to get here. I’m thrilled to be able to show you what I do and I’d love to hear from you.
I want WN2 to be our forum.
There’s a lot at stake here. If we don’t embrace something beyond getting and discarding, the whole planet, and us along with it, is going to hell in recycling bin. But doing so needn’t be onerous or preachy.
THE FIRST CHALLENGE: A TOWEL BAR
A treble clef?
The letter S in script?
This is a towel bar. I had a permanently temporary spindly towel bar. It met the minimum requirements: as long as towels weren’t wet and there was only one of them, it held them up off the floor but it did the job like an insolent, entry-level clerk: without conviction, nor pride.
And then I spied the bentwood rocker. Forsaken in an alleyway, its caning shot, but its bones perfect.
A screwdriver undid the many sections. Black paint smeared then brusquely sanded on the edges gave it presence. A couple of holes, blocks, anchors and screws and I had two heartbreakingly cool towel bars for, well, let’s call it nothing. If you come to my house, forgive me if I drag you into the powder room; I’m just that damned pleased with them!
THE SECOND CHALLENGE: A STOOL
This cheerful stool’s life should have been on the TV show Intervention. It’s my delinquent child snatched from a life on the streets. The base had been banished to the curb with a ripped seat, duct taped and grim. The skillet had an interior surface that had been expelled from Home Ec. due to knife fights. Separately, each piece was a failure. Together, however, their sum is greater than their parts. I stripped off the stool’s upholstery, kept the wooden seat form, painted the wrought iron legs and glued the inverted skillet onto the wooden seat. This little darling, I’m proud to say, is now a productive member of my kitchen. Cost? Pretty much free.
WHERE YOU COME IN
Was it comedian Steven Wright who deadpanned that, given that socks come on little hangers, he had his own little sock closet? Sock hangers! Is there a more direct trajectory to recycle bin than that of the lowly sock hanger? Well, here’s a (gender-specific) tip: Twist off the end of a sock hanger — the small hook that the socks don’t hang from. Slip the remaining slot over the side of your purse with the S-hook on the inside. Hook your key chain on the S and you’ll be able to find your keys instantly.