This week’s challenge is a continuation of recognising that the dollars spent on an item are not the only cost involved in buying it. Last week’s challenge was about rehoming things that we don’t use very much. This week is about extending the life of the things that we use most.
Once upon a time, society followed a ‘make do and mend’ philosophy. In our disposable world, that ethos seems lost. In the modern economy, it can sometimes be cheaper to buy a new version of something. This should probably concern us more than it does. A red flag that, somewhere, the price is being paid by someone else. It shouldn’t generally be cheaper to harvest new resources, manufacture something from scratch, transport it, store it, and generate a profit, than it is to simply fix an existing version.
If our first thought when something breaks is to repair it, or have it repaired by a fairly paid local craftsperson, we are changing the face of consumerism in a number of ways. We’re generating work within our own local economy, for people who have the skills to make repairs. We’re refusing to fund unethical businesses that produce items cheaply at a high human or environmental cost. We are keeping items out of landfill and extending their use, better justifying the resources used to make them. We’re incentivising ourselves to invest in a smaller quantity of possessions, investing in higher quality options which will need fewer repairs and replacements.
In the age of technology, most of us have the means to learn a repair skill. A simple google search will yield a variety of ‘how-to’ tutorials in an array of formats. For more specialised skills, or repairs that require specialist equipment, we can turn to local businesses who have invested in their own equipment and training. The more we stimulate a viable economy for repairs, the more businesses of this nature can thrive, and be available for our use in the future.
Take one item that you were going to replace, and have it repaired locally instead.
Commit to learning a particular repair skill, and to always try repairing items of that type before replacing them.
If you already have a repair skill, consider if you could share it around. Fix things for family and friends, volunteer to fix broken items for op shops, or even take the leap to start your own repairs business.
Guest author: Cheryl Edwards