Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolution: Do More with Less

A few years ago, I was walking through Macy's in San Francisco and checking out the latest fashions. This was about 5 years ago when the '60s and '70s looks first started coming back in style. The upscale downtown store was filled with fringed suede purses, lace-up leather boots, beaded necklaces, and crocheted vests from the hippie era and weirdly psychodelic mini-dresses, big sunglasses, and platform shoes from the early disco era. (Who knew that platform shoes would come back?)

The blue jean mini-skirts struck me in particular because they were authentically ragged, although quite pricey. The handmade look was reminiscent of the original blue jean skirts that we old hippies made in the early 1970s.

I sewed my first blue jean skirt from pair of cutoff shorts when I was a freshman in college. Since the dorm sewing machines were possessed by mechanical demons, we sewed these skirts by hand, which gave them a particularly crude look.

My mother was appalled by the rugged workmanship of my creation. In the fall of 1969, she sent me to college wearing wool sweaters with matching wool skirts, purses, and tasteful heels. When I came home in the spring, I was wearing a home-made love bead necklace that I strung; an orange hand-crocheted vest; my hand-sewn, blue jean mini-skirt; and Water Buffalo sandals. Except for the sandals, I had created my outfit with a handful of raw materials, a bit of ingenuity, and some skills I learned in junior high home economics class.

Fast forward 40 years to 2010, where is that personal ingenuity today? In the current economic climate, I believe we should look back to the '60s and '70s for direction. Gardening, composting, eating healthy meals, making your own clothes, living simply and naturally, and living in harmony with nature and other people were all in style.

How can you emulate this lifestyle today? Here are a few tips on living more simply:

- Evaluate your household. Does your house or apartment suit your family's size? Is if convenient to your work or do you have a long commute. You may consider downsizing or moving closer to your work to save money and energy costs.

- Do you know how to knit, sew, or crochet? These are useful skills. Consider taking a community class or asking a friend to give you a few lessons. If you know these crafts, teach your children. (They'll thank you someday.)

- Check out your closet. Are their clothes that could be updated or restyled into other fashions? Recycled fashion is in style-- particularly in Tucson. Maybe you could make pillow covers or other decorative household items from these clothes.

- Harvest rainwater and grow a garden.

- Plant trees to shade your property.

- Start a compost.

- Buy and eat locally.

- Reuse and recycle.

- Engage your family-- particularly your children-- in these activities.

I challenge you to more with less this year. You may find that this enriches your life.

This article originally appeared in my Baby Boomer Examiner column. To see a slide show of recycled art, check out this link.

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