Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush. — Doug Larson

Eulogy: In Loving Memory of Our Garden Shoes

Our mantra “make do, use up and wear it out” on the urban homestead is serious business.  Any item we use has to be ratted and tattered before it gets replaced.   This week, some  really old garden shoes finally died in their line of duty having served us well.   The “cheap” garden shoes had a good, long run – over 10 years or more, I can’t remember!   We had put off getting a new pair.

However,  the old garden shoes had split at the soles and finally had to be laid to rest in our trash can with our other rubbish. Since they were vinyl (egad!) I couldn’t even put them in the recycle bin for a chance of an afterlife.  Hate throwing away something we have had for a long while, but it’s sure nice to be able to go into the mucky areas of the garden and not get socks wet!

We’ll see how long these babies last… hopefully, another 10 years or more!

Remember that old saying “They don’t make things like they used to”?  With our modern culture whose emphasis is on consumerism, ” Planned Obsolescence” is the norm today.

What things do you  “make do, use up and wear out” ?


  1. Peggy says:

    I’ve just finished stitching a wall hanging on a linen napkin with the words “Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do or Do without”. I wear long cotton dresses and aprons every day. When my dresses wear out its usually the top and maybe an inch of the top of the skirt. So I take the skirt off and make an apron. I use the front for the skirt (since it has pockets) and cut the bib to a simple apron from the back. I wear the apron until it starts coming apart and then use what I can salvage to make rag rugs. I really get my moneys worth from the fabric I purchase.

    • Anais says:

      @Peggy: Sounds lovely. Yeah, another apron wearer! I too wear an apron every day, sure helps keep the laundry down. Love hearing how you turn your old dresses to aprons – very practical and crafty indeed.

  2. Dawn says:

    I’ve been wearing out my shoes since I was a kid… if I hadn’t out-grown them I’d wear them till the sole separated from the upper, or they’d be passed on to my little sisters! I felt guilty for buying a new pair of shoes only a year after my last pair this year, but I am now on a job where I’m on my feet all day, and -had- to have the support that my old sneakers just weren’t giving me. To make up for it, I invested in a pair of insoles that should out-last the shoes, and gave new life to an older pair that I can now comfortably wear at work again!

    I also re-use clothing. When my t-shirts get too ratty or stained to wear any more, I turn them into rags which can be used for cleaning, or cut them into strips for braided rag rugs (I’m working on one now in shades of blue; when it’s done it will make a cozy addition to the basement floor!)

  3. Una says:

    We are big thrift store shoppers, but I must say I don’t scimp on shoes; I’ve found the more I spend on my shoes the longer they last.

    • Anais says:

      @Una: Good tip. I’ve gotten some decent used “dress shoes” on Ebay that have lasted me a long, long time!

  4. Tina says:

    At the risk of raining on your shiny new shoes, I have been following the plastics industry’s use of illicit chemicals that we become exposed to when wearing softened plastic and the pthalates that leach out of this material when exposed to strain or heat are horrible for the human body. Pthalates attach themselves to sweat, enter the body through sweat glands and then mimic estrogen, causing a chain reaction that sends the body out of balance quickly. A quick and dirty google of pthalates will give you enough information so that you NEVER wear these without socks. I see people putting small children barefoot into these kinds of ‘croc’ footwear and their counterparts and just cringe at the insanity of how an industry could get away with profiting from using chemical soups that are so detrimental for human physiology! You do better taking gumboots and cutting them down to size as I have over the years.

    • Anais says:

      @Tina: Thanks for commenting, good to know. I’m REALLY not keen on plastics but now that I have ’em will make sure to keep them out of the sun and wear socks. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Anissa says:

    I’ve always heard the saying to go like this “Use it up, Wear it Out, Make do, or Do without”.

    • Anais says:

      @Anissa: Good to know, thanks!~

  6. Joseph McBee says:

    Just today I was sitting at my desk and looked across my office at a picture of my wife and I at my graduation party in 2006. I realized that I was wearing the exact same shirt that I had on in that picture and that I had purchased the shirt in 2003!

    The color is not quite as vibrant now as it was then, but it’s still holding up. I tend to wear clothes until they are almost literally falling off my body and then they get relegated to a drawer where they will be worn as camping, hiking, or gardening gear. Only when there are so many holes in the garment that it is no longer decent do I send it to the rag bag where it will continue to be used to clean things with.

    • Anais says:

      @Joseph McBee: Great shirt story and I like how the clothes keep serving in different ways long after they are unwearable. Thanks for sharing.

  7. deborah says:

    I was raised by depression era parents and they knew how to stretch a nickle! Now in my 60’s and retired living on SS alone, I am happy they taught me to be frugal and not afraid to work hard. I know you will treasure those new shoes! 😉

    • Anais says:

      @deborah: Sure will. It’s certainly “centsible” to stretch a nickle. Saves money, not to mention the environment! Hard work, is good honest work. Amen to that.

  8. Sheila D. Copeland says:

    OMGosh! I have those same socks! Oh yeah… nice shoes. LOL

    • Anais says:

      @Sheila D. Copeland: Really? How neat is that!!!

  9. Michelle says:

    Anais, All I kept thinking was how cute you looked with your argyle socks! lol
    Love your blog, your lifestyle and your family!

    • Anais says:

      @Michelle: Thank you. I LOVE sock – more colors the better!

  10. Musartte says:

    We wear just about everything out. Shoe are worn until they are worn out, although replacements are purchased before they fall apart. The “new” shoes are for being in public, and the used shoes are for work. I mend. The list includes, but isn’t limited to undergarments, (darn) socks, and clothing, bath towels, wash cloths, “rags,” cloth napkins, and linens. DH is able to fix or make just about anything.

    We are not keen on “Making Do,” meaning that the right tool for the right job is necessary. It has been our experience that “Making Do” may reduce the quality of the product. If “Making Do,” is referring to thinking out of the box to fix or create an even product, then that is what we do.

  11. Merche says:

    I´m heading towards a self-sufficient life and learning with all your posts
    I really find it difficult to wear worn -out clothes as here in Spain
    everyone tries to wear their best clothes,for going out to work and socializing,image is important
    I still live in the city and teach English at a school
    but we are beginning our rural homestead planting trees and a vegetable garden
    have solar panels and want to start collecting rain water
    (we live in Almeria a sub-arid spot in Spain)
    Also we intend to get an electrical car when possible.
    inspired buy you, I´m starting ab ox where I´ll pile the clothes I don´t use in
    the city for the future and to use in the garden.thank you

    • Bev says:

      I wear everything out too. For the past few years, I’ve bought all our family’s clothing from the thrift store (and also on Ebay). I now also make my own cleaning and laundry products and wash my hair in baking soda and rinse with ACV. I’ll be looking @ other things to make naturally, around the home, as well.

      Since I got laid off, from my job of 11 years, we really do have to make do and mend. My hubby is getting to be a real expert at repair and creative re-invention, around our little 1970s house.

      This is just the start of the journey, of breaking away from mindless consumerism, but we will get there.


      Bev from New Zealand

      PS: I just found your website and the blog, and I will be popping back frequently 🙂

  12. nancy says:

    Where do you buy your gardening shoes from? Are they just the rubber clogs that are popular?

    • Anais says:

      @nancy: My sis got these online… have to ask her! Could be, I don’t shop much so wouldn’t know 🙂

      • nancy says:

        @Anais, I think I found the match on eBay- garden “sloggers” 🙂 I’m tired of ruining my sneakers in my garden!

        • Anais says:

          @nancy: sweet!

        • nancy says:

          @nancy, Hi, I have noticed a little glitch here- I checked the box where it says “Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail”, but I never get the email. Is there a way to fix that???

  13. Melanie says:

    I try to make do and mend, all my clothes and shoes are used till they are falling apart ( some do get to the point where they are ok for cleaning the house in with the drapes drawn lol) and my childrens clothes are passed down on to a needy family I know ,but at the moment I have been spending a lot more in stores. But I don’t feel guilty because most of it is equipment and jars for preserving food and equipment seeds for growing more food for ourselfs to store for the winnter. so that I can be more self sufficient in the future. I do try to purchase as much as possible second hand, not just because if the recycling issues, but because I usaly find it to be better quality, or things I just cannot find new in the UK.

    • Anais says:

      @Melanie: Good for you. Yes, you are right. Some things we need/have to purchase new. Wishing you all the best on your self sufficient journey!

      • nancy says:

        @Anais, Ditto here, I will start canning this month, bought some things used, but couldn’t find a used canner, so bought a new one. Good investement! And I got the “garden sloggers” in the mail, cute! Now I need some argyle socks 🙂

        • Anais says:

          @nancy: 🙂

          • Leslie Harrell says:

            I have a red pair of sloggers that I’ve worn for several years now. I wear them for more than the garden, but you can’t beat them here with Louisiana mud. I sport the ole’ rubber boots, too! I luv your site and have been a fan of your family’s for quite some time. It is fascinating how God uses different people for different purposes.
            You guys are making a difference on many levels, but especialy the “green revolution.” Thank you.

  14. Grace says:

    Hi! I just saw your 2009 movie and since I’m browsing through your website! I love it!!!! Very inspirational!

    I wear down as much as I can. I’m not that good with remaking clothes but a friend of me is! She has her own clothing line so all my clothes that still look good but don’t fit or are a littlebit damaged she gets. Throusers become skirts and whatnot. She’s doing a good job with them and I don’t mind giving them to her 🙂 To get new clothes I always stop by the vintage shop first. We have this adorable little vintage clothing shop nearby my work (it’s in the Netherlands). My wardrobe is growing and growing with re-used nice clothes…

    I’ll stop talking now… I just love recycling 😉

  15. ellen says:

    I am currently making two baby quilts from a vintage unfinished quilt top that my aunt “decluttered” from her sewing stash – I believe she found it at a thrift store. The quilt itself appears to be made from 1930s-40s flour sack fabric. (Gorgeous prints!) For the batting I am using an old, worn twin mattress pad cut in half, and the backing is an old flannel sheet. I did have to buy bias binding. So when the babies get them, they will be the fourth-generation owners of this lovely quilt, and the third repurposing of the original yardage. The leftovers of the quilt will be big enough to make stuffed animals for more children’s gifts.

  16. Rick says:

    My father and I received slippers for Christmas. I outgrew mine and ended up wearing his. That Christmas was in 1969…I still have them. I use chap stick very seldom. One day I noticed my stick is in a metal tube and has the 1976 Olympics insignia on it. Lastly, I bought three pairs of sneakers at a tag sale in the mid 1990’s; I finally tossed the third pair about two years ago. When a member of my family calls me cheap, I correct them by saying, “No, I’m just EXTREMELY frugal”.

  17. Rick says:

    Oh, the sneakers were used of course, but in good condition. They also were $1.00 per pair.

  18. Michelle Steen says:

    We have been giving my only daughter’s out grown clothing to a girl 1 year and 1 foot smaller than her. The girls are good friends. Both girls get excited to see the other in her older clothes. The friend even comments on clothing she can’t wait until she out grows.
    We have been growing a small garden this year. Extra vegetables are traded with 2 neighbors who have different vegetables in their gardens. I feel that our gardens have made us all closer than just neighbors!

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