In our disposable society, the ability to repair items seems to have fallen by the wayside. But it used to be a regular part of life, back when products were higher quality, more durable, and more expensive. If you couldn't fix it yourself, you took it to someone who could. Instead of tossing a pair of shoes when there was a hole in the sole, you took it to have the sole replaced at the local shoe repair place. I remember when I was a teenager, a favorite pair of black flats got a hole in the bottom. I knew I'd never find a pair of black flats that were as comfortable as my simple worn pair. So my mom took me to the shoe repair place about a mile away from our house to get a new sole. It was the only pair of shoes I ever had repaired.
|"Ask your grandparents if they ever had their shoes repaired.|
People often repair shoes rather than replace them."
Our recent trip to the local children's museum included checking out the new exhibit "Broken? Fix it! Getting inside repairs." This fabulous celebration of ingenuity and conservation had great appeal for old and young. My kids loved all the interactive stuff, and I loved reading the signs and learning about how shoes, cars, ceramics, clothing, bikes, toys, and more can be repaired. One of my first thoughts upon entering the exhibit was how much my plastic-free hero Beth Terry (author of the blog and book My Plastic-free Life) would enjoy it. I immediately thought of her post on fixing her broken rice cooker so that she didn't have to contribute to the creation of additional plastic.
One thing I loved about the exhibit was the emphasis on maintenance and taking care of things. For example, the shoe exhibit described how regularly shining shoes helps to prevent leather from cracking or splitting. In other words, polishing your shoes doesn't just make them look more snazzy, it extends their life!
|Loved the display on book repair: "The library ripped the covers off these books |
and left them for trash. Phyllis and Joe found them and made the repairs."
|"How often do you repair toys?"|
Part of the problem with cheap products is that they hardly even seem worth repairing. When things I own break or even just start to show age, I am often tempted to toss and replace them. If I think about how much my time (or my husband's time) is worth to me, it rarely makes financial sense to repair them ourselves. And it's often not worth it financially to pay someone else to repair the item, assuming such a person could even be located. But I try not to give into this disposable mentality. Because even if the short-term cost to me of toss and replace is low, the long-term consequence of this mentality is fatal for all of us. Those broken products end up somewhere, often with their components leaching into the soil, water, and air. And new products require the consumption of finite resources to create, and often result in toxic pollution as byproducts of production as well.
What have you fixed?
- IFIXIT and IFIXITORG
- Fix It Club
- Repair Cafe - find one near you or start your own
- How to Repair Anything (About.com)
- Fix-it-yourself Books
- How to Be a Green Consumer
- 6 Ways to Ditch Disposables
- From Disposable to Reusable: BYO Food Containers (plus 10 More Ideas)
- Eco-novice's Favorite Kind of Toy
- Green Gifts for Adults: Reusables
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle while Wrapping Gifts
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