Let 'recycing queen' Elizabeth Thurgood give you some tips

PUBLISHED: 11:06 24 June 2009 | UPDATED: 23:44 15 June 2010

FOR most of my life I have lived on the poverty line, but have always managed to make ends meet without getting into thousands of pounds of debt.

FOR most of my life I have lived on the poverty line, but have always managed to make ends meet without getting into thousands of pounds of debt. Perhaps my upbringing had a lot to do with this. Born at the end of the war, I was brought up on strict rations and "Make do and mend" was the order of the day. Recycling, as it is now, called. Everything was used, then re-used. If anything was needed, the first thought was "can we make it with what is available", not a case of going to the shops to buy whatever was needed as, quite often, there was no stock or very little in the shops to buy. Also, the allocation of coupons had to be used sparingly. This early training has stood me in good stead, as I have tried to make ends meet all my adult life.Jumble sales, recycling centres, charity shops etc, are all places to find things to use, re-use and re-vamp. It does help to be a squirrel and hoard material, buttons, braid, zips off old dresses etc, to make and alter clothes and household furnishings. Friends also find me useful when they want something to complete a project they are working on. I can usually find something in my workroom to help them out.Material is made into clothing or blended with other material to make patchwork items, from pin cushions, dresses and skirts up to double-bed patchwork quilts. Rag rugs are made from matted jumpers, worn tweed skirts and other suitable material. Hand-knitted jumpers are pulled back or ruffled down, as would be said in Scotland or the North East of England. The wool would then be wound round the back of a chair and made into skeins. These skeins would then be washed and dried, then re-wound into balls for re-use. I have knitted socks, Fair Isle jumpers, crocheted shawls, ponchos and bed covers with wool recycled this way. In fact, most of my bedding, over the years, has been made like this and, with my patchwork quilts, we have always been cosy. Cot and pram covers are made for friends who are having babies.When mats are needed for the floor, I collect all the scrap pieces of wool, rolling several plys (even man-made fibres) to make a big ball of material, and, using a large crochet hook, make mats. Watching what size I make them, these can go in the washing machine. One year I crocheted some binder twine to make a doormat. This lasted well, but was very sore on the fingers making it. When we had goats, I made all the hay nets and leads from binder twine. On one occasion, I made a grass skirt for our daughter to go into a fancy dress competition as a Hula Hula girl.There is never any food wasted! I make all my own jam, chutneys, pickles and sauces, using up surplus fruit and vegetables from the garden and hedgerows. At one time, I made all our wine and beer - but now find Adam's Ale (water) more to my taste. I cook all my vegetable peelings up - to feed the few chickens I keep - and any other suitable scraps go into the dogs' dishes. Even my dogs are recycled, being rescue dogs.I try to cook two or three meals at a time and freeze at least one portion for the days when I am busy, this also saves energy. In the winter, when I light my small wood-burning stove in the kitchen, using fuel from various sources, I boil a kettle on this or cook a soup or a stew for myself. Any boiled water not required straight away I put in a Thermos flask and use this water for drinks or filling a hot water bottle to put in my bed. Wood is collected all the year round and, most days, when I take the dogs out for a walk, I bring back fallen twigs to use as firelighters. If my stock of sticks dwindles, I make newspaper sticks.Most of my friends call me the Recycling Queen, but it all stems from (a) living on a pension, (b) hating waste, (c) recycling at it's best.

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