It seems that being thrifty is a fashionable thing at the moment. The newspapers and television seem to be telling us more and more about how people are "making do" with what they have rather than buying new.
Last year there were articles in the news about sewing machine sales going up due to people wanting to be more green. Now, as unemployment rises, people are instead using their sewing machines to repair what clothes they already own and make it last longer.
When I first started this blog, I wrote of being keen to learn some of the skills that my grandparents generation had to make better use of what they already had. That generation grew up with rationing and had no choice but to manage with what limited things they could get. I have always been fascinated by the ingenious ways in which people stretched what they had to make it go further during the war years, and I have certainly learnt from researching those times.
As people currently struggle for money the terms thrift and frugal are making quite a comeback. In many cases there is simply no other option. There are others who made decisions to live more frugally before the current economic situation took hold for green reasons. Surely the more people behaving like this can only help environmentally?
An article on the BBC news website asks if those people that can afford to spend, should be doing so to help to life the economy. It is true that if everyone stops spending then the economy is unlikely to recover. But, if you have seen people around you struggling to pay the bills after losing jobs, then it must be difficult for any responsible man or woman not to think about what might happen if that was them, and hence to look carefully at what they are spending and saving.
But, what will happen when (or if) the economy picks up? Will we suddenly return to our consumerist ways? Or, will people think more carefully having seen how difficult things can get?
These may be quite deep thoughts, but as we sit here in uncertain times, I'm fascinated to watch how this changes people. I hope that the lasting legacy from all this will be that people realise that whilst money is necessary, there is more to life than material possessions. Many of us can make do with what we own already, or what we can acquire second hand. By learning a few basic skills, we can repurpose many things around us to meet our needs. It's also not necessary to pay money in order to have a good time. A walk outdoors is free. Even if the countryside is not immediately accessible, plenty of parks are there. A book from the local library can take you to a whole other world. A simple board game with family and friends can provide just as much entertainment as an evening out.
Let's hope that some good comes from the hard times that many are enduring at present.