Reducing waste in 2018: make do and mend

Christmas is over, the fridge is full of cold turkey  and leftover nut roast …. I am sure you are the same (well, maybe not the nut roast!). Because most of us have plans for our Christmas leftovers and don’t like wasting food, this is the ideal time to rethink our approach to reducing waste during 2018.

Reducing wasteReducing waste with small repairs

I was sent some Sugru mouldable glue recently to try. This seems like the perfect thing when you are trying a make do and mend approach. Rather than throwing broken things away, I will use this for small repairs.

Reducing wasteThe cat somehow managed to throw the laundry basket down the stairs the other day and has cracked the corner. Each time it is used the crack is getting bigger. Rather than throw it out, I have used the Sugru to patch it up.

It isn’t as good as new and doesn’t look pretty, but hopefully will last a little longer.

Reducing waste by using the turkey carcass

Reducing wasteI have already turned the turkey bones into stock. This will be used to make soup with some of the leftover turkey and veg.

Any remaining turkey will be packaged up and put in the freezer. I have also sliced up the nut roast and frozen it. The freezer is an excellent tool to reduce waste!

I have a jar of Aldi curry sauce in the cupboard. No doubt some of the turkey will end up as a quick curry for Mr S and the girls, if they are about.

We have a lot of cheese. Fortunately this lasts a long time but I have a cheese soufflé in mind for later in the week. Cheese freezes very well too, but because we all love it I think it will get used up.

I read somewhere that salad leaves are the most thrown away food item. I have done this myself at times. It is annoying, but there isn’t much you can do with salad, except eat it before it goes brown. But is this true? I reckon I could throw any leftover lettuce and cucumber in the soup and no one would be any the wiser!

Buying less

The best way of reducing waste is not to buy too much in the first place. I don’t feel we have gone overboard this Christmas. We have a lot of food in the house but there are five of us here at the moment so hopefully we can use it all up. However, my daughter turned up with a pack of continental meats – chorizo, salami, etc. yesterday. As I am no longer eating meat and no one likes this that much I am contemplating what to do with it. I think some kind of pasta dish. I can do a meatless version for me fairly easily. Any ideas anyone?

No spend month

As January will be a no spend month for me, I will naturally be buying less of everything. Those of you who spend too much and have too much stuff might like to join me. Many of us have so much of everything and could easily do a month buying nothing except essentials. It’s great for replenishing your bank account!

I am probably going to need to make an exception for DIY stuff, however, since we plan to start the renovation of the sitting room. But we will be making the best of the furniture we have rather than buying new, much as I would love a brand new shiny sofa. We did consider buying one in the sales but have decided to save up for one rather than putting it on the credit card. It doesn’t seem the best start to a new year where I want to spend less, save more and focus on reducing waste generally.

Are you looking at reducing waste in 2018? There are some great ideas over at Jen Gale’s blog My Make Do and Mend Life. She took a break from it but is back! Very happy about this. What about you? Do you enjoy a make do and mend approach?

Making do

making doSaving money isn’t about being mean. However, it is about doing all you can to avoid unnecessary purchases. Sometimes that does mean making do and making the best of what you have.

We are so spoilt as a society we barely consider this. When some gizmo or gadget  breaks we buy a new one. We rarely stop to think about whether we could fix whatever the broken object is as our grandparents and many of our parents would have done, or whether, if it is truly past it and completely unfixable, we have something that will do instead (or even if we could manage without said gizmo altogether).

Making do on my no spend month

Because I am having a second no spend month I need to think through every single potential purchase to work out whether I can avoid it. I am making do with what I have. My preference is for pale tights over black ones but I have laddered all the pale ones. I don’t want to buy more, so I am wearing the black ones. Actually the thick black Lycra ones last so much longer I think I will give the pale ones up altogether!

I have completely run out of my usual foundation. However, I remembered I had one I bought several months ago that was a bit too pale for me. I am wearing that now and chucking on a bit more blusher!  It will do.

I have been brave and cut my own hair rather than pay for a hairdresser. It isn’t as good as a salon cut but it is fine.

The handle of my favourite old bread knife finally cracked and started to come off. I didn’t throw it away and buy another one, I got Mr S to fix it. I don’t know what he did exactly – it disappeared to his workshop for a while and came back as good as new 😄.

A friend recommended a yoga book as essential reading. I could have bought a copy but instead it is on order with the library.

A frugal lifestyle

At Shoestring Cottage we do a lot of this stuff anyway as part of a generally frugal lifestyle. We wanted a bench for the garden last year but we weren’t prepared to spend mega bucks buying one. Fortuitously, a neighbour threw one out which we transformed – you can see the story here. We also upcycled an old dresser as part of our cheap DIY kitchen make over.

I have a cupboard full of clothes. Some are quite old but I make them last with gentle cleaning and repairs where necessary. Most were secondhand but there is nothing wrong with them. I have enough of everything so I can make do for now.

It’s easy to make do and not shopping and just buying stuff for the sake of it gives me time to do other fun stuff like writing this blog. Are you a make do and mender?


Mr S to the rescue

 I went to Aldi to do the weekly shop on Saturday. I always get there as they open at the weekend. If you don’t you can’t get in the car park! The stores aren’t huge but I think all the car parks are too small. This isn’t helped when a massive delivery lorry turns up and takes up half the car park, which seems to happen quite often.

They had some lovely plants in there and I couldn’t resist. They are so cheap! I also found a solar  hurricane lamp for a friend’s birthday, but when I got it home we liked it so much we decided to keep it and go back and get a few more as presents. Of course when we got there it was absolute bedlam!

I thought my 15 year old Miele dishwasher had finally bitten the dust on Saturday as it started making a terrible grinding noise. I bought it in the sale and even then it cost £450 but it has been brilliant for a long time.  Mr S came to the rescue though and pulled some bits apart and found a prune stone – it must have got into the works somehow! It works fine now 😀. I could have spent £100 getting an engineer out but I probably would have just scrapped it as it is so old. Every household needs a Mr Shoestring!

He also repaired two garden chairs I got as a set from the charity shop. The table and two of the chairs are solid but the other two were slightly damaged. Now we have a full set and just need the sunshine back.

Honestly, he is a gem 😀😀. Hope he doesn’t read this – don’t want his head expanding!

It’s the little things …

Excuse the lack of posts this week. I have felt inexplicably exhausted and seem to have spent a lot of my evenings snoring on Mr Shoestring’s shoulder on the sofa. Oh well – I guess my body needed the rest!

I was berating myself for getting so little done. Then I decided to make a list of all this week’s frugal achievements. To my surprise I did better than I thought. This proves we need to be kinder to ourselves once in a while. Writing a list proves you have accomplished something 😀.

So…what did I achieve?

Decluttered my wardrobe

I have pulled some things out to sell on eBay and have two bin bags to take to the charity shop. What’s the point of this stuff cluttering up my cupboard if I never wear it? Now I can see what I actually have!

Sold 4 things on eBay

I finally got round to listing some items that had been sitting in a cupboard for ages. I sold four and made £25 which has gone straight in the savings account. Every little helps!

Started a spending diary
I have done this before, although not for a while. This time I am following the plan in the book I am reading, Your Money or Your Life, and recording every penny that comes in or out of my life. I think this will prove a useful exercise to see if I am really in touch with my spending habits.

Repaired the dishwasher

This wasn’t really me at all – Mr S, my very own Handy Andy, came to the rescue and managed to get it working. It keeps blocking. I suspect it is on the way out as it is 15 years old. I won’t be replacing it when it does expire finally.

Dyed my own hair

I always do this. I use half a box of hair dye on my roots once a month which costs me about £2. My hairdresser charges about £30! They have to make a living but my budget won’t run to this.

Made thrift soup
  I dug out two carcasses to make stock – one was a chicken and the other the duck from Christmas! It made lovely stock. I added some frozen leftover mashed potato, pasta and veg, then chopped up an onion and celery and threw the whole lot in the pot with some lentils. It was delicious and will be lunch for about 4 days.

Repaired a hole in my jumper

My favourite blue jumper! It took three minutes to sew up the little hole that had developed. It was secondhand when I got it but I still want my money’s worth 😃😃.

Aranged to have a water meter

I have put this off for years as with three long haired daughters who spent a lot of time in the bathroom and required many loads of laundry to be done, not to mention the poor dishwasher, I knew my bills would go up with a meter. Now, with just one daughter left at home, it was time. The water company is sending an engineer in a few weeks.

Purchased lots of reduced jewellery

My new venture is an Instagram shop. I am currently on the look out for bargain bits to sell on and found some very pretty earrings and necklaces at a discount sale price. I will start a new account for this, although my current one now has over a thousand followers – I am quite pleased about this. I know it is yet another way to waste time but I enjoy looking at people’s pictures and getting a little window on their lives. Check me out: @shoestringcottage.

Wonky box

Asda have very kindly arranged for me to receive a Wonky Box to review. It should arrive this week so watch this space! In case you are living in a cave and haven’t heard, they are selling misshapen vegetables for £3.50 a box, which they claim contain enough vegetables to feed a family of four for a week. Sound excellent all round and I am very excited about this!

I am starting this week by finally starting some seeds for the veg patch. We had planned to do this last Sunday but had a day out to Pin Mill instead. So that’s my first frugal achievement for this week 😀.

Whatever you are doing, have a good week, money savers!

Make do and mend: Love Christmas, Hate Waste


A Christmas wreath made from old magazines

I was exploring the Essex County Council website today and ended up on the Recycle for Essex site. Here you can find some excellent advice on reducing waste and lots of ideas on how to be creative with waste generally rather than dumping it. I love this make do and mend mentality.

Christmas crafts

There are some brilliant Christmas craft ideas. I like these gift bows made from old magazines.

You can also make gift bags from newspapers, a wreath from sweet wrappers or magazines, loads of decorations from CDs plus there are useful links to other wastes for more inspiration.


An old CD becomes Santa

There is a link to the Love a Food Hate Waste website too, which is a great site. There are lots of ideas for using up your Christmas leftovers, from Christmas pudding ice cream to Stilton, ham and Brussels sprout tart! I bet that is nicer than it sounds 😊.

You don’t need to live in Essex to find some inspiration for reducing your waste this Christmas. Check it out!

Make do and mend

I have been enjoying a blog called recently. Jen Gale has an interesting perspective on using less and wasting less which I agree with. She has had a lot of attention from the media of late too, with a piece in the dreaded Daily Mail about avoiding the rampant consumerism of Christmas and making it more simple. You can read it here. She and her family spent a whole year buying nothing. They went for a make do and mend approach, then carried on when the year was over. She is a very inspiring person with a refreshing view on life.

What are your tips for reducing, reusing and recycling this Christmas? Do you make do and mend? Are you trying to make it more simple and meaningful?