Lasting Makes Lasting Buys

Sorry I’m like a bus. Nothing from me for months, then 3 blog posts in a glut!

This is a 5 mins make all from scraps. It’s a bag to keep washed cotton cleaning cloths in, under the kitchen sink. It kind of sums up my current thoughts on how I want this cottage to operate. I’ve been replacing tatty carrier bags with cotton ones I have made, over the last few months. We all know about how bad the plastic waste situation is around the world, and I’m guessing that like me most people feel overwhelmed.

I mentioned in a reply to a comment in my last blog post, the idea of LAST MAKES. This is where we actually use the fabric we have been stroking and saving for a perfect project. If you knew for instance that you could make a last bag (for example) and make it the perfect bag for you, then what is holding you back from creating it today? Why not make something you know will last a decade and that you or a recipient will love it? A LASTING MAKE! With Valentines coming up, why not make a special something for friends as well as a loved one?

From that idea came the idea of a LASTING BUY. This isn’t the 1980s anymore where people simply had to have the latest whatever. Yes you can buy the thin handled machine made wooden stirring spoon in a supermarket, but you know you only need a new one because the last handle snapped when you were trying to stir Great Aunt Maud’s fruitcake recipe. Why not instead spend a little more and buy a handmade solidly constructed stirring spoon which will last decades? Long term it saves money. It could be known as The Cake Stirring Spoon by children and grandchildren. My Nana had things in her home like that which had been passed down to her, and I loved them. They were part of her house and life. I think LASTING BUYS can really add to our quality of life as well as the world’s.

It is a big task but if we all made little changes month on month about what we buy, it all adds up to just a bit less plastic being imported. Here are a few ideas I have had:

  • Where practical use pretty glass storage jars, instead of plastic which may leech into food eventually. 
  • Look out for organically grown cotton clothing in sales, and things which have been plant dyed. 
  • Support local farmers markets -buy their vegetables rather than over packaged supermarket ones.
  • Look at crafts people sites such as Etsy and support fellow crafters.
  • Have a crochet string bag, or cotton one in your bag for surprise shops.
  • Buy some vegetable seeds- many can be grown in an old washing up bowl.
  • Repurpose plastic items like the old washing up bowl above.
  • Choose the less packaged version of an item in the supermarket.
  • Try a Fair Trade version of something. You may end up swapping to it.
  • Try out a new craft so that you can make something you need.

What has worked for you? All tips appreciated. I’m wanting to have a home like my Nana’s. What are your cherished memories?

PS Has anyone tried tablet weaving or nalbinding? These are 2 new crafts I am wanting to try this year. Both are very old and featured in the Viking Ship Museum in Norway.

This Etsy shop has good combined European postal charges for those of us in Europe who are finding the US postal charges a bit high at the moment, but who would like to try the old crafts.


Tracy said…
WONDERFUL post, Melanie! VERY much love your ideas shared here and shining a light on important issues--for living, as well as for crafting. For some time we've been trying to live more eco-friendly and sustainable. Last year we really kick things up a higher notch and continue to set new challenges for ourselves to reduce plastic use, especially single-use plastic, which is some of the worst out there now. For us here in Norway, food it a difficult one where plastic is concerned as a lot of fresh fruit & veg are imported and often are covered or are in plastic--plastic tray, plastic bag, etc. And with little in the way of farmer's markets where we are, our options being what they are, we maybe must reconsider what we buy and eat even more simply. Which for two kind of foodies like us, it is hard! ;) With growing season ahead, we hope to grown more of our own this year! Eco-crafting has been much on my mind for a while too. And to make more of my own clothes and use eco-friendly cloth and materials as much as possible. Thankfully here there is much wool that is ethically produced, as yarn crafts are still very popular here! I learned to sew from my Mum and that is close to my heart, and I think about her often when I sew. Thankfully I can still call her when I need a hint or advice. My Mum cleaned with chemical-laden cleaners and still does, and no amount of my natural talk or blog posting about it changes her mind... LOL! So memories of blue window cleaner--I can still smell it...eeewww... :/ As an adult I've been doing things my own way, especially where homekeeping is concerned. Sometimes we have to be our own role model. I love you idea of LAST MAKES and using up some precious bits in the stash! And like you, since our visit to the Viking Ship Museum, I'm eager to try nalbinding and some simple weaving--must add to my creative list for this year!
Thanks for the encouragement Tracy. I’ve tried using the Method range of cleaners. The lavender one smells nice as well as being a natural antibacterial. Vinegar is good on glass, but I am still using strong chemicals for toilets and sinks occasionally. As a crafter, I do feel a responsibility to make things which aren’t disposable or one-use like a lot of the plastics. It would also be good to use fellow crafters of the same mind set. I’m seeing more and more, how we can do with less and that what we keep ought to really matter.
Ulla said…
Great post with lots to think about! As you know I'm all for recycling, and here in Finland we have a well organized system with bottle deposits and the producers' responsibility to organize recycling of different packing materials. I was going to make my own reusable bags for fruit and vegetables but heard just this week that the grocery store chain is launching such things as a means to their duty to reduce the use on plastic bags. We always use a shopping bag I have made, and in my handbag I carry a light one for other than grocery shopping. - With my sister we swap the magazines we subscribe, so we get to read two different ones.
Nalbinding is a technique I have had on my wish list for along time. My mother has made a pair of mittens with a needle my father made for her, and I have the needle now. I would love to start learning with you!
Yes I would love to learn with you too! Tracy is interested too. How special that you have a family needle! That definitely qualifies as a Lasting Make. I was going to see if there were you tube videos, when my needle arrives. That was how I learned crochet finally.

For any European readers wanting to get supplies, to try these old crafts this Etsy shop Vytu Vatu has reasonable postage:

It doesn’t surprise me that the sensible Finns have a proper way of doing things. I don’t know what our government was thinking to send ours to China! Surely we should be facing our responsibilities as a country and organising a system in partnership with companies who can reuse things. This small scale local council organised lip service isn’t good enough. We need a national system where everyone can recycle as much as possible.

Us crafters do try to make things to last, but I think we can all improve on our Lasting Buys choices. Just this morning the paper was saying how 86% of our teenagers tested positive for a chemical in plastic which mimics oestrogen (BPA). That can’t be good.
Jeanie said…
Hello! Jeanie from Marmelade Gypsy here. I just wanted to come by and thank you for leaving such a nice comment on my blog and I'm so glad I did. I love the concept of a lasting make. I never heard the term before but it makes such sense. Your thoughts on buys and choices make such good sense. I see Tracy reads you, too. I read her as well and I can see how both of you have really thought this through!
Hi Jeanie, welcome! I just got thinking about society these days and what small things I could do, to try to improve it. I tried to think of key words for my little hearth revolution. Lol I’ve known Tracy for a decade! Yes we have been sharing our thoughts and ideas. Just little changes can make a difference. I don’t want to feel helpless.
Gail said…
Lovely idea-a last buy! I've done many of the things you suggest-it's much less expensive for one thing. lovely bag as well!
That is wonderful to hear Gail. I think the UK lags behind the world with things like recycling, so buying quality things which last and making things to last is sensible. The little bag for cloths won’t really be seen but it has tidied up the under sink cupboard nicely.

I saw you are a Lucy Boston fan. I haven’t yet shared my photos of Hemingford Grey Manor.when I last went. I’ve been a very lazy blogger since moving home. Do you like the Greenknowe books too or just the quilts?

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