It’s really sad how much this concept has fallen out of the public awareness.  If something is worn or torn or damaged, we tend to replace it automatically–even if the damage is only cosmetic, and doesn’t actually affect the item’s functionality. 

Case in point: I tore the knee of one of my jeans the other day.  So are they a write-off?  No way!  It was a nice straight tear, so a little flat whipstitching kept it from tearing any farther.  (A stitch in time saves nine, remember!)   But the fabric around the mend is still very weak, so I’m probably going to put in a patch inside the jeans (you can put them on the outside if you want; I prefer embroidery to patches, so my patches go on the inside) and embroider them as I have time.  The inside patch gives them added strength, so they don’t tear further, but the embroidery will reinforce the patch and make sure it doesn’t tear away from the jeans.  (Plus, it looks really nice.) 

 Or, consider this: the handle breaks off one of your stainless steel pots.  You don’t have the necessary skills to fix it, and there’s no one around who can do it for you.  Is it time for the trash can? 

Nope.  If possible, continue using it as a pot; just use two potholders when lifting it off the stove.  Or, if that makes you nervous, find another use for it.  We lifted one of our broken pots off with potholders for several years.  Then when we got a new pot as a gift, we “recycled” the old one; it replaced a plastic margarine tub as a water bowl for the dog. 

But sometimes, making do means just living with what you have until a new one comes along.  That towel with the tear in it will still dry you off.  The cup with the chip in it will still hold coffee.  The shirt with the stain on it still offers protection from the elements and a covering for your body.  If you can mend, clean, or reuse something, go for it.  But if not–sometimes the best thing you can do is just live with it. 

 Here’s a challenge for you: find one thing over the next week that you can live with or mend.  A stained shirt, a torn sheet, a shoe with a hole in the toe…all these are things that can be lived with or mended.  Obviously, make do and mend won’t work all the time for everyone; the working woman who gets a stain on her blouse that simply won’t come out probably shouldn’t show up at work the next morning and tell her boss that she’s just making do.  But over the next week, I challenge you to find at least one thing that you would normally throw out and see how you can make it do.  If nothing else, you’ll realize that the world doesn’t end when your sneakers get a little ratty.  Stains don’t spell certain doom.  And some cups are designed without handles. 

 I leave you now with a thought from one of my favorite songs: 

Got some highs, got some lows, but the wise man, he knows what it’s really about/You get by doing without. ~Surviving the Life, Neil Diamond