Mending & Maintaining

One easy way to help the planet is to make sure things that already exist get as much use and care as possible so we can reduce the amount of raw materials we need to make new things. We may as well get used to mending and making do now as it’s going to be the only option as resources become less readily available in the future.  Mending things also helps finanicially as it’s (usually) much cheaper than buying another one.

A specific area that we all need to monitor more is in clothing, so much clothing is thrown away because of a small stain, tear or lost button. By taking a leaf out of previous generations and some of the wonderful wartime information on making do we can come up with a whole raft of ideas on how to salvage, fix, reuse and recycle our clothing so it NEVER goes to landfill.  I acutally do a talk on this to help us all see the creative ways we can be inspired by the tenatious and inventive women of the 1940’s, one of my favourites was using shoelaces which were not on ration to weave and make belts.

We have lots of helpful stuff in our Winning At Winter book, and a mending list worksheet on page 6. Here are a few suggestions…

  • learn new stitches to cover stains or mend rips, you can look up online and find the thicker cross stitch threads in most charity shops.
  • patch clothes either invisibly or in a more ‘showy’ way to cover holes or stains
  • if all your jeans always wear in the same spot, e.g. knees then preemptively add a layer of fabric behind, before they wear throught
  • think of ways to use items you can’t wear any more, cutting up babygrows for cleaning cloths or using an old pair of trousers to make a draught excluder
  • research where you can recycle textiles locally, we have a curbside collection, our local recycling centre or most charity shops collect ‘rags’ and can still earn money by selling them by the kg
  • consider if a business or community group could use those times e.g. dressing up at a nursery, costumes for a drama group or even a pet rescue
  • find out if you have someone as marvellous as Julia near you, she takes unwanted clothes and reimagines them into something new at


I’ve found it easiest to have one day a month dedicated to fixing, and a box for the kids to add their toys, clothes and books (!) that need some TLC. Then we clear it all and start again, so many things that a few years ago i would have just binned have had an extra lease of life. Of course some things can’t be mended, but those I’m now far more thoughtful about how to dispose or them sustainably. For more information about clothes we did this quick tips guide.

This idea also feeds into a changed thought process when we buy things, I now ask myself questions like ‘Can this be fixed, updated, recycled etc when we no longer need it?’ I’m also very cautious about toys and other items that look like one time wonders…



On a very personal note, but very relevant here – we are using some of our sons clothing to make memory toys for some important people in his life. The rest will be taken to charity at some point, but this is a nice way to keep items that have meaning or represent a person into a new object. It would be unhealthy to keep all his clothes, but by creating a memory item you can keep them in a more healthy and hopefully rewarding format. 

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