Making Things Last Forever — The Non-Consumer Way

by Katy on April 21, 2014 · 16 comments

I have a problem with concept of planned obsolescence. Because unlike a traditional manufacturer, I expect everything I own to last forever. Unfortunately, the stuff I use does eventually wear out. Luckily, I have a multitude of tricks up my sleeve to squeeze every last drip, drop and morsel from every single item that enters my world.

And when I can find a new use for an old item? Be still my heart!

From the squeezing every smidge from the lowly tube of toothpaste:

Toothpaste -- coiled

Cutting it open:

Cut tube of toothpaste

And unearthing a few extra days of bonus toothpaste:

Cut tube toothpaste

To patching my favorite shorts using a worn out napkin:

Crotch hole

The napkin:


The patch from the inside:

Inside patch

The patch from the outside. (BTW, the next time that I’m about to sew a blood red patch on the crotch of my pants, could someone please suggest a different color? Luckily, these are not the jean shorts that I wear to the opera.)

Note: This patch is not visible unless I’m sitting on the floor with my legs apart. However, I’m still going to add blue stitching to the patch.

Outside patch

To deciding that a corner of my kitchen needs a bit more color, and creating a hanging tray from one of my vintage trays:

Needs more color

Tray, before:


Hot-gluing a knotted piece of twine onto the back of the tray. Note that it’s my last glue stick, so I’m using the back of a paint brush to push the glue through the hot glue gun:

Hot glue gun


And now this corner of the kitchen has a little more color:

Jane Avril tray

If my possessions break or tear, I will fix or mend them. And when I want a new look, I’ll always shop first from the stuff I already own.

It’s just the non-consumer way.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Vickie April 21, 2014 at 11:38 am

Good job, Katy!
Until you can stitch over the patch thread, you could use a blue magic marker to color it. I’ve used magic markers on canvas items and leather before to cover stains or scuffs.

I do the same as you with toothpaste. They make toothpaste “keys” that fit on the bottom and they squeeze out a LOT of extra paste. The one I had was plastic and it broke last year, but I loved that thing. A binder clip would work great, thanks for the tip!


Katy April 21, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Good idea, although I still think I’ll stitch extra blue as it will strengthen it a bit more.


lori April 21, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I love the tips you give. I was recently inspired by you and pulled a pair of my husband jeans out of the garbage and patched them, doesn’t look great, but they are dog walking pants… the dog doesn’t care! And right now i am prepping the slow cooker with leftover ham bone and meat to have white bean ham soup for tomorrow. I am really working on cutting down food waste.


Katy April 22, 2014 at 10:21 am

Sounds like a delicious way to minimize food waste. And I love that your husband will wear “dog walking pants!” (I guess you’re not British, where “pants” means “underpants.” 😉 )


Margie April 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that patch! Well done, Katy!


Katy April 22, 2014 at 10:20 am



Diane April 21, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Thanks for the reminder about patching. So easy and fashionable as well.


Sloan April 22, 2014 at 6:45 am

Wow. I am not quite that committed to the toothpaste, although I did do that to my conditioner recently. However, last night as I was making our bed, I decided we need a new sheets, as the elastic is completely shot in the fitted sheet. However, I realized that there is nothing wrong with the top sheet, so I only need a new fitted sheet and I will make cloth napkins out of the old one. Win-win, since we are in need of more cloth napkins anyway.


Kendra April 22, 2014 at 7:44 am

I’ve been trying to figure out how to hang a tray for a while now. How did I not think of this?! So simple, yet effective. You’re a frugal genius.


Katy April 22, 2014 at 10:20 am

The tray fell off the wall last night, so maybe my method is still in the planning stage. Oops.


Frugal Nurse April 22, 2014 at 8:27 am

I love shopping my own closet or house for new fashion and decorating ideas. Once or twice a year, when the urge hits, I rearrange my closet or bedroom or living room and box away rarely worn clothes or small decorative items/pictures/fabric/etc. Six months or a year later, I’ll dig those items out of a box and think “Hey! I know what to do with this now!” If the item still doesn’t thrill me, it’s sent off to the thrift shop. I get the fun of playing with something “new” without the cost.


Katy April 22, 2014 at 10:19 am

I love it!


Skidd April 22, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Planned obsolescence drives me crazy!! My mom has a flip phone that needs a new charger and she hasn’t been able to find one because most chargers are for the newer smart phones. We finally found her one but had to buy 5 different modifiers to go with it. Guess what she did with those? Threw them away. I have a smart phone (which was forced on me, I mean, was a gift) that is sooo outdated that it’s getting hard to keep it. Most people just want me to turn it in for a new phone rather than have to search out 5 year old parts.


JD April 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I hate planned obsolescence, too. I want my stuff to last FOREVER, just like you do, Katy, and it drives me crazy when they don’t. I tend to wear mostly “classic” styles, which means they aren’t really stylish, but aren’t jarringly out of style, either, and I expect those babies to last a decade at least. I used my same harvest gold wedding-gift hand mixer for 30 years, even though it was less powerful than the new ones, and I was so glad to see it die so I could get one of the modern souped up models. I wasn’t going to spring for a new one until it did, though.
For the tray, you might try painting a piece of scrap wood, even a piece of an old picture frame and screwing it to the wall, making a ledge for your tray. You could still hot glue twine to the tray to tie it off to your original hanger, so it won’t topple off its ledge.


Rachel S. April 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm

I thank you. And my pants thank you. I’m so used to doing all my sewing on the machine that tricky patch jobs have been going by the wayside. I used a three inch embroidery hoop that I already own and patched the heck out of my jeans where there was a big old hole in the inner thigh. Blue thread.


Linda in Mass April 26, 2014 at 4:53 am

I do not have a “thigh gap”, so needless to say, my jeans all wear out between my thighs. I have found that patching them makes them last years longer. And, you cannot see the blue material patch unless I am sitting on the floor. I hate getting rid of comfy jeans, so it is a great fix.


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