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Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, Or Do Without

During the Great Depression, it was a tough time for everyone and people were not able to go to the store or buy whatever they needed. The Great Depression years were the worst economic downturn in history around 1929-1939 in US. In fact, there was no online shopping during those days hence people around that era became creative with the way they used and reuse their items. The term “Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without” became a popular saying because of this. Today, we call this idea as repurpose or upcycle.

Not only it can help save your pocket, it also helps you to be more environmentally friendly – it’s a win-win situation. So, what do you have at home that you no longer need or use, but could be repurposed or upcycled to something new and useful?

Here are some ideas that you can try at home:


  1. Don’t waste leftovers; reinvent it into another meal or you can keep it in the fridge for later. On average, a person waste approximately 1 kg of food day. It may take some efforts to get there, but practice makes perfect right?

  2. Put your fruits and veggie scraps on a good use: start a compost bin! While it may not sound like exciting or fun, it actually produces an incredibly useful material especially for those who garden or have pots of herbs.

  3. Turn your nearly empty bottle of shampoo upside down so you can use all of it.

  4. Save the rubber bands that you get from the food packaging and reuse it later.

  5. Use spatula with rubber scraper to empty your peanut butter jar, you’ll be surprised how much leftovers it can collect.


  1. Learn basic sewing skills, it comes in handy when you need to sew button or patch clothes.

  2. Hang clothes to dry when possible. This saves you a huge amount of bill at the end of the month. In fact, hanging clothes out in the sun can make your shirt lasts longer.

  3. Reuse food cans for storing dry items in the bathroom, office, or small toy.

  4. When your clothes start to show a distinct look and are no longer suitable to be worn as usual, change it to clothes for working in the garden or dirty tasks.

  5. Reuse Ziploc bags when possible. Hand wash them and dry until you need to use them again.


  1. Limit the purchase of toys. Set a rule for the kids; if you get a new one, you have to donate one. This saves your place from being cramped up with unused toys.

  2. Check the fridge first before eating a shelf-stable snacks to avoid finding old, mouldy food after a few days later.

  3. If you can’t manage your spending, only use cash or debit. No credit card, no problem.

  4. Don’t buy every new gadget that comes out. Use what you have first until it can’t be fixed anymore.

  5. Start a small garden at home when you have time. It’ll help with your grocery budget and a good stress-reducing hobby.


  1. Have a Buy Nothing Month to get a new perspective on things you can do without.

  2. Do you really need all the mobile data you’re paying for? Downgrade your phone service if there are cheaper and better options available.

  3. Make use of the local libraries instead of buying books. Although you might end up with late fines, it is still cheaper than buying them new.

  4. Does a person really need a smartphone, laptop, new tablet or an iPod all at once? Limit yourself with these electronics.

  5. Buy streaming device like Netflix instead of spending your money on cables.

Although the tables have turned and we have stronger buying power today, we shouldn’t neglect our ability to change the environment with our purchasing decision making. There’s always room for improvement and we are capable of it if we try. Be a responsible consumer.


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