Make Do And Mend

The 8th May 2020 is the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) and to honour this important day the Recycling team has compiled their own Make do and Mend suggestions to try and repair, reuse, repurpose or recycle, to increase awareness of the problems with waste. The current situation with Covid 19 has introduced us to the possibility of things not being as readily available as they normally are, and by using our creative abilities (we all have them!) we can reuse some of the things we have lying around and think of them as possibilities rather than waste. You can see our upcycling guides at the end of this page, make sure to check back as we will be updating them regularly. You can also find an article about recycling then and now here.

We sincerely hope you enjoy our efforts!

Before WW2, Britain was importing 55 million tons of food. One month after the start of the war, this had dropped to 12 million tons and this reduction had huge implications for the population. Rationing was a method for ensuring the fair and even distribution of food and commodities during a time of shortage.

 Petrol was the first thing to be rationed at the onset of the war.

Food rationing began on 8th January 1940. Bacon, butter and sugar were the first items to be included. Later, most foodstuffs including meat, milk, cheese eggs and cooking fat were rationed. Meat was rationed by price, all other foodstuffs were rationed by weight.

By August 1942 the only exceptions to food rationing were bread, fruit and vegetables, although these could be scarce. Types of imported fruit such as Bananas virtually disappeared. A campaign ‘Dig on for Victory’ was introduced, encouraging households to turn their gardens and allotments over to growing food.

Alcoholic drinks like wine and whisky were not rationed but became scarce.

Rationing created a black market. Occasionally shopkeepers kept a few supplies back for special customers. The ‘Spiv’ came into being, petty criminals who obtained goods by improper means. By March 1941, 2,300 people were successfully prosecuted for fraud and dishonesty.

Ration books were handed out to everyone in Britain. You would register with a shop of your choice. Each time a purchase was made the shopkeeper would mark it off in the ration book. People who undertook physical work such as the land army and members of the armed forces or miners were entitled to higher rations.

National registration day was 29th September1939. Every household in Britain filled in a form giving details of all in their household.

The colour of your ration book was important and reflected the amount and type of food needed to remain healthy.

Buff-coloured ration books - Most adults had this colour

Green ration books - Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 5. They had first choice of fruit, a daily pint of milk and a double supply of eggs.

Blue ration books - Children between 5 and 16 years of age. It was important that children had fruit, the full meat ration and half a pint of milk a day.

The production and usage of food was overseen by The Ministry of Food, which was in existence from the start of the war until 1958, when the end of all rationing finally stopped. They devised ways of helping people use their rations & reducing food waste.

In addition to rationing, the government introduced subsidies on food to ensure poorer families & the working class received their entitlement. Rene Peacock lived in a Welsh mining village where there was a lot of poverty. At the start of the war she was 9. She remembers that rationing was the first time some families had been well fed. Rationing ensured everyone had a varied diet and good nutrition and ultimately improved the health of the British people. Infant mortality declined and life expectancy rose, excluding deaths caused by hostilities.

Eating out caused some controversy. It was felt that richer people had an unfair advantage by being able to afford food in restaurants, which initially were not included in rationing. In May 1942, it was decreed that restaurant meals may not cost over 5 shillings or have more than 3 courses. Meat, fish or poultry could only be included in 1 course. However, if you had a staff canteen at your place of work, you could increase your rations!

Clothes rationing began on June 1st, 1941 and ended in 1949.

The government needed to protect the raw materials needed for uniforms and other aspects of warfare, such as tents, tarpaulins etc. Therefore, they needed to reduce the consumption of civilian clothes.

Everyone had a clothes ration book which contained different coloured tickets. Clothes were given a value in coupons; the books would be given to the shopkeeper to purchase an item and this would be cut out and kept. The customer would then hand over the money to the value of the coupons.

11 coupons would buy a dress, women’s shoes were 5 coupons, men’s shoes were 7. Two coupons bought a pair of stockings. Rene Peacock had a tiny crochet hook for repairing the runs in silk stockings and talked about drawing a line on the back of her leg to make it look like she had seamed stockings on!

 Initially 60 coupons a year were given, which later was reduced to 48. Children were given 10 more than the standard number to allow for growth. Consequently, people became good at repairing and reusing clothes. The government produced a booklet called Make do and Mend, which gave advice on the care, repair, resizing and reuse of clothes and other items.

The style of clothes used fabric economically, for example skirts were narrower, not full.

Nowadays we have problems with the supply of food and textiles which are due to excess rather than limitation.

How To Guides:

How to upcycle an old rattan chair

How to make a vintage-style brooch

Extending the life of a shirt

How to darn socks

How to repair a laundry basket

How to make a protective clothes hanger

Suitcase shelf

Upcycled suitcase shelf

Cafetiere cover

Cafetiere cover

Frame tray upcycle

Frame tray upcycle

Homemade scrunchie