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Sustainable Consumption Institute

Makers, make do and mend: a newly thrifty consumer

Exploring thrifty consumption practices in a time of economic and political uncertainty.

Makers make do and mend logo.

With the impact of austerity measures, a persistent housing crisis and the fallout from Brexit, how UK households are managing in the current political and economic climate remains at the forefront of popular and scholarly debate.

This project explores how households and third-sector organisations are engaging with thrifty forms of consumption. From making do and getting by, to lending, sharing and exchanging, it examines the forms contemporary thrift takes and the sorts of practices and materials involved.

Our aims

The project’s aims are to:

  • examine how objects and practices are part of thrifty consumption, and how this is interwoven with time – both of the household, but also of the lifecycle of materials
  • explore how thrift is conceptualised across contemporary society
  • understand how third-sector organisations are involved in household thrifty consumption.

Using a qualitative approach the research design involves:

  • 30 semi-structured interviews with households
  • 12 months' participant observation with a range of third-sector organisations
  • Mass Observation Directive on the subject of ‘Being Thrifty’, issued in summer 2016.

This research speaks to policy-relevant debates regarding the impact of austerity measures and subsequent local community responses, while also engaging with debates on overconsumption and sustainable resource use.

Project leader