The ways my parents and others in their generation lived are what we consider now as frugal ways. I am practicing some of them now though not as strictly as they did but definitely similar to what I observed or lived in childhood.
Caring for items
One example is caring for furniture. Most homes had seat covers on their sala sets. The seat covers protect varnish or upholstery. Seat covers are cheaper to replace and are easier to clean.
Some of my furniture have seat covers at present.
Buying replacements only
We used our shoes for as long as they were functioning or when we outgrew them. Sometimes our parents bought us new pairs even if our shoes were still good if they became too small for us because we were growing.
I do this in buying durable items. I somehow do this in buying shoes and bags.
Our shoes were repaired if they could still be repaired. There was a reliable sapatero (shoemaker but more of a shoe repairer) in our town which did this kind of repair.
Our clothes were mended if they’re torn specially if it’s for house wear or pambahay. Fast fashion (a term used to describe a highly profitable business model based on replicating catwalk trends and high-fashion designs, and mass-producing them at low cost) wasn’t in vogue in those days. We knew how to replace buttons or snaps or press studs which we called automatic (I still have to ask older relatives the origin why we called them such). My mother knew how to replace stuck zippers and worn garters.
I do simple repairs which I can do like replacing buttons, sewing a tear, gluing a small space in my shoe and the like. For others I do a simple cost-benefit analysis because sometimes repair costs so much that it’s better to buy a new one.
Buying/Having Only What’s Needed
We didn’t have extras like another bag or different colors of shoes – just one pair of leather shoes and a pair of rubber shoes.
I buy only what’s needed as much as possible.
This was a practice probably because there’s no continuous flowing water in our town at that time. Water service was rotated thus there were specific days for specific barangays. And there were days when the water flow was strong only late at night or even dawn. When there wasn’t enough, we bought water delivered in drums. There was no room to be carefree with water use. There were no bottled drinking water or filter stations which are now available in our town.
I now collect rainwater for my plants and use the last rinse in laundering for cleaning the car and rags or watering some plants (like hedges)
I know, I wore hand-me-downs when I was a girl. These were from my cousins ,not from my sisters, because I am the youngest among 6 children and there were 3 boys between me and my older sisters who were 1st and 2nd children. Some of my classmates wore hand-me-down uniforms.
This is still being practiced among my nephews/nieces.
Some of the commonly upcycled items were clothes. Those were the days of modistas (dressmakers). Ready-to-wear (RTW) have not gained acceptance. The biling-yari or ready made as we called them were considered of a lower notch, these were probably the precursor of fast fashion.
Rarely worn dresses were upcycled into new ones through dressmakers. Gowns were made into cocktail dresses. Cocktail dresses were made into party dresses and casual dresses were restyled to update or made into girls’ dresses.
Old bedsheets were made into pillow cases provided they were not too worn out.
Old towels were made into kitchen towels.
I don’t buy rags or paper towels, I use old shirts or towels/hand towels. I have a post related to this – Mindful Discarding
During those days, we returned bottles of soda and other bottled products and get the deposits. (The present manufactures should take a second look on that system to lessen garbage) . Or we sold empty bottles to ‘bote-diaryo‘ ambulant men with their pushcarts who bought empty bottles and other recyclable materials. These men are now called mangangalakal and usually use a bicycle with side cars.
I now segregate waste into biodegradable/compostable and non-biodegradable. The latter items are further segregated into saleable to junkshops and non-saleable or residual wastes which are thrown away.
Avoiding Food Wastage
Wastage is avoided in all items. But food is special, almost sacred. We have a Tagalog word “busong” which means repelling God’s blessings. Some say magtatampo ang grasya o magtatampo ang biyayà. Leftover food/meals are eaten during the next meal as is or recooked with new ingredients to make a new dish.
I’m still very careful with food . Leftover food /meals at home are served the next meal. When eating out in restaurants I take leftover food home.
Using Reusable Biodegradable Baskets/Bags
Baskets made of rattan or other endemic materials were used when going to the market. Some used bayóng , a bag made of woven strips of palm leaves. These were used over and over until they’re worn out. Plastic bags were not used then.
Now, I use eco bags as much as possible when buying groceries.
Use of Uplì Leaves For Cleaning
Back then uplì leaves were used for scrubbing. Uplì is an endemic plant with abrasive leaves. The leaves were used for scrubbing instead of steel wool or scouring pads. They are free and renewable.
We have the uplì plant in our yard, it just sprouted and grew. I don’t let it grow big, I use the leaves once in a while.
Kids walked to schools. Teenagers walked around town when they hang out with friends. Adults walked to their places of work, to the market or to visit relatives and neighbors. Families walked to church to attend mass. That’s the benefit of living in a small town. But now people ride even for short distances, even in my hometown. They use tricycles.
I walk whenever possible like I walk to the fruit stand to buy fruits, to our church, to the nearby Mercury Drug store.