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  • Writer's pictureNic

If It's Broke...FIX IT! or at least give it a try.

In today's world so many things that could be repaired end up being thrown away. Usually because it's "easier" and "cheaper" to toss things in the trash and go buy something else. I myself have been guilty of looking at a repair job and debating with myself, "Can I do this? Do I have the energy to do this?" Last year I donated a down coat because I didn't want to wrestle with a replacing a broken zipper. Now part of the problem is "planned obsolescence" in which things AREN"T made to last. Instead they are made with cheap elements that can be very difficult to even repair or replace. Which begets another challenge, buying items not just to get things "cheap" but seeing each purchase as an investment. Can it be repaired? And if I can't do it, do I know of and/or look for local craftsman who can?

This way of thinking is underpinned by the reality that there is actually no, "away" when we say, "throw it away". Instead we should say "pass it along" or "give it to someone else to deal with",

Here on the farm there are multiple dump sites that have been used through the years, but one very big one in the woods with broken bits of everything; car parts, buckets, bottles, cans, jars, old vacuum cleaners, and more bottles; a mingled heap of stones, soil, metal, plastic, and glass spilling down a hillside into the seasonal creek. Once upon a time if you didn't burn it, you just piled the waste up somewhere on your property, without a waste management system, you had to be aware of each item and deal with it yourself. There are of course terrible problems with that system, but at least folks had a sense of the volume of debris there life generated, today I have no sense of how much garbage my life produces, I just throw it all "away".

But one thing I have come to fully appreciate having lived in the city, the country and the developing world is that the waste my life produces does not disappear. Newton's "?" law: Matter can neither be destroyed or created, and trash counts. We just pass the buck.

So in response, we have made it our goal to at least be aware of the issue. We buy second hand and we try to purchase for less packaging (though good luck with this one). We reuse items (for example, I wash ziplocs), recycle when possible (though it is really important to learn about how recycling works in your community because it can be widely divergent and complicated), and repair as many things as we can.

I have a mending basket, and clothes that can be fixed live in it for a few weeks to a few years depending on how complicated the repair is and when I find time to sit down and stitch them up. I always have shoe repair glue around and we are regularly attempting to find ways to keep our boots and shoes repaired and when all else fails we take them to the Greenville Shoe Hospital.

It may seem easier and cheaper just to "throw it away" but one thing I have learned is, someday someone will pay somewhere. If I buy "cheap" shoes, I may not pay more for the shoes now but that raw material and the efforts needed to dispose of those shoes down the road will definitely make up the difference. By taking responsibility ourselves it may be more work for me and cost me more in time and money, but unless more people demand better quality, repairable products, our only options will be the "cheap junk" that everyone always complains about.

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