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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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I’m Going to Mend & Make-Do – How About You?!

I’ve been busy lately – have you noticed? I apologize that I’ve left you all without tasty tidbits to read lately. I’m working on a better system, trying a few different time management ideas, and we’ll see how it goes!

So… I’ve been watching Rob’s new challenge for a while, sitting off on the sidelines. And it kills me to sit on the sidelines of such a great challenge! It’s brilliant. Particularly brilliant because it perfectly falls in line with the Buy Sustainably Challenge.

Make-do and Mend Challenge

Here’s How It Works

Don’t buy it new – fix it and renew! The challenge is simple, really, instead of throwing out something and adding to the waste stream, try repairing it instead.

Yeah, that’s it. No more complicated than that!

How Do You Repair?


By sewing, gluing, caulking, hammering, screwing, patching, replacing parts, …even repurposing. There are some things that you just can’t repair, and in those cases I do everything in my power to find a new purpose for it or give it to someone else who can repurpose it. And, if I can’t find a repurpose for it, then recycle it. And if I can’t recycle it… then I recycle all the recyclable parts in it. (And oh yes, it is fun to take things apart!!)

Rob has a Do It Yourself blog with some great tips, and I will be writing about how to fix and repurpose household items in the coming weeks. As a part of the Waste Prevention Grant I’ve been working on with Sustainable Capitol Hill, we’re planning a Repairing and Mending Workshop with neighborhood residents. So this will be good research for me!


These skills are also incredibly useful during difficult and uncertain economic times. So I’ll also try to share some of the things my grandfather tells me about getting by during the Great Depression.

If you’d like to join me in the Make-Do and Mend Challenge, head on over to Rob’s World. If you’d like to join the Buy Sustainably Challenge, sign up in the comments here. And if you would like to informally join, that works too! I know many of you don’t have blogs and just come here for inspiration, so take from these posts whatever you can and start applying them to your lifestyle!


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9 comments to I’m Going to Mend & Make-Do – How About You?!

  • Rob

    Everyone’s welcome to join this challenge! Thanks for the plug, Melinda!

  • Joy

    Great challenge. I was raised this way so it’s a bit easier for me to think this way than for some people.

    I have lurked here and love this site. Thanks!

  • Fabulous! It does my black heart a lot of good to see so many teaching themselves to sew, knit, repair, reuse and make do. A life of voluntary simplicity is not just about lobbying for change but in changing yourself. Time management, reusing and repairing are all old skills that aren’t talked about enough. This post has made me believe that the movement is maturing and that is a great thing. Good luck with your challenge Melinda (and Rob).

  • A little acknowledgement for you, over on my blog.

  • This is such an important concept. I’m not going to join the challenge because it feels like something I have to keep up with and will disappoint- however- I am already doing this in principle. I think there are so many things we all have to learn in order to become a mending and fixing society but it is what is at the core of non-consumerism.

    The biggest block against this idea is that it is so often cheaper to buy new than to fix so you have to change how you look at things. You have to realize that in the long run you will save money by fixing and mending- but in the short run you will possibly spend more. It’s also much more likely that what you have will be worth fixing if you buy the best quality you can afford at any given time.

    Don’t buy junk and it will take a lot longer before needing fixing and will often be more worth fixing.

  • I love fixing things. I hate shopping and so when I do buy something it’s usually because I love it and never want to part with it. Mending is a good thing.

  • Rob, You’re welcome – great challenge!

    Risa B, Great bag idea – thanks for sharing it. If/when the bag eventually wears out, you can use it as mulch in the yard – it’s great for that!

    Joy, Thanks for commenting – it’s always lovely to hear that someone loves the site. : ) Please go over and join the challenge at Rob’s World – I’m sure he’d love to have another!! Thanks for reading!

    Rhonda Jean, Definitely the movement is maturing and expanding. I can feel it here in my community. More people are becoming involved, more people are making do with what they have, more people are bartering for goods and services. It’s a lovely thing!

    Sadge, You’re so sweet – thank you! I love being a part of the co-op.

    Angelina, Wonderful words. And important to bring up the fact that it does cost money to buy tools and materials for fixing things. But they do pay for themselves as you build a collection of tools to mend and repair future items. Not to mention that when you mend/repair, you save non-renewable resources from being used to make a new item and to get rid of the old item. Ultimately, the biggest cost of buying a new item is often the cost to our planet.

    And yes, exactly – don’t buy junk – buy things to last!

    Allie, LOL, I hate shopping too. And I love the memories and stories attached to an old, sturdy, well-mended object…

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