Seen at Skermunkil, Palmer Rd, Muizenberg

Hands up those who of you own one of those wooden darning toadstool thingamabobs, that you stretch under threadbare socks and jerseys to stop holes and ladders? See, I don’t even know what that thing is called.

Shame on you, Koeks.

Even Pravin Gordhan was talking about looking after what we’ve got and doing more with less in his 2012 budget speech yesterday. Making the most of what we have. Working with actuals. Being resourceful, not being wasteful, being inventive. All that. It’s all good.

At home, sometimes life gets too crazy to look after things nicely and use what we have intelligently. I speak for myself. I feel I should make the time to stop the ladders in sweaters before they’re completely done in, and remember to write names on beach towels so they can be like Lassie, and come home. Sometimes you don’t need a brand new slipcover for a sofa. You can also just dye the old one. I was amazed to find this service at the dry cleaners in my area, so last time I thought I needed reupholstery, I spent about 50 cents and had the slightly grubby white one dyed black. It transformed it. I also resisted sending a tatty framed painting to be reframed. All the old box frame needed was a coat of white paint, which I did myself in about two minutes. It looked as happy as a Colgate smile and the total cost was about 20 cents. My friends Marjie and Avril of design agency M&A take scrap paper from their printer waste and they make the best notebooks for internal note scribbling. Perfect.

We need to share more. Kids don’t need a set of brand new school textbooks every year. They can use secondhand or thirdhand or even fourth freakin’ hand. The great thing about used school books? Invariably some Dux scholar had it before you and made genius notes that make sense of Hamlet’s existential crisis. Bonus.

Our war baby mothers or grandmothers lived like this. They saved gift wrap, let hems up and down and up and down again, and darned pants and socks. It wasn’t only a money thing, it was a point of pride. You feel clever making something good happen with what you’ve got or  making nice with things that look like they’re ready to go on the heap. It’s satisfying to avoid adding to landfill.

I’m with Pravin today.

My one reservation: I’m just not sure how we’re going to do more with a litre of petrol. Maybe it’s time again to seriously consider the bicycle or the scooter? When I saw this scooter on Waterkant St in Cape Town, the idea started looking like it really could take hold.

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