Use it up, wear it out, make it do!

This series is brought to you by
TurboTax Federal Free Edition.

The poster above was issued by the US Government in 1943 to remind citizens to be frugal and resourceful at home to help the war effort abroad. The North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts has an article that provides some context:

Civilian rationing was necessary in order to supply the military. Rationed items had to be used sparingly and included shoes, coffee, butter, gasoline, and nylon hosiery. Recycling was introduced and civilians were exhorted to save cooking grease (which was used in the manufacturing of explosives), rubber, scrap metal and even rags. Victory gardens began to replace commercial produce and provided 40% of the fresh produce consumed by civilians during the war. Women were encouraged to can vegetables to be used during the months when no produce could be harvested. Families even gave up pet dogs to the military to be used as sentries. War posters encouraged citizens to willingly bear these hardships through images of civic-minded individuals cheerfully adapting to this new way of life. The poster, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do!” provides a humorous image of a woman mending a pair of pants in order to save the labor and goods that would be required to replace them.

Today, there's no rationing in the United States. You are free, encouraged even, to buy as much stuff as you can afford, and throw it out as soon as next year's models are available. There's a certain kind of fun in getting the latest and greatest, but I've also learned that it's often rewarding to fix broken things instead of buying replacements. Recently, my Blue Snowball USB microphone stopped working. Troubleshooting it led me to discover that one of the metal tangs in the USB input jack had bent out of place. I tried to bend it back and it snapped off. That's it, I thought, and got ready to toss it into the trash like a moldy grapefruit. I was about to buy another one on Amazon. But then I decided to try to fix it myself.

I unscrewed the two hemispheres of the microphone and found a small circuit board. Four colored wires led from the board to the USB jack. I took the USB cord and snipped off the end, and found four similarly colored wires. It took about 10 minutes to strip the insulation off the wires and solder them to the pads on the circuit board. I made a makeshift strain relief on the cord and screwed the shells together. I tested the mic and it worked perfectly. I'm happy I didn't waste money buying a new mic, and I feel more attached to my old one because I invested effort in fixing it and feel a sense of ownership of it. I recommend you try fixing something the next time something of yours breaks.

Loading...