My parents are of a generation where one repaired things that were broken. Things like articles of clothing, shoes, small appliances or toys.
I cannot tell you how many times my mom would mend socks, replace zippers, sew on buttons or fix rips on various clothing around the house.
My father too used to fix things we broke as kids. He’d find a way to get a little bit more life out of an old cassette player, and knew how to make repairs to furniture, bikes or small appliances.
Buying new things was expensive not to mention wasteful if the original, broken piece was not yet beyond repair. Back in those days, shopping was not considered a hobby like it is today to so many people. Nor did we have big box stores full of mass-produced, made-in-China products…
Today, few people take time to mend or fix things. It’s much easier to drop into the local Walmart or Target and just get another one.
We’re the disposable generation.
I struggle with this.
I own a pair of boots which are more fashionable than practical. I bought them on sale one year at the end of boots-wearing season. They function well in a semi-dress-up environment where you want a little bit of a heel and aren’t too concerned with practicalities like dog walking, or errand running. They were not expensive, only had upper-leather, and I knew instinctively they would only last me a couple of seasons, maybe three at most. They’re just not that type of boot you expect to last long-term through Canadian winters.
I love these boots. 🙂
One day I was wearing my boots while at a social event at a rink, and I suddenly tripped. I looked down: Did I miss a step? Did I trip on a hockey stick?
It was the left boot. The rubber part of the bottom of the heel came loose somehow.
I analyzed the boot and noticed just how cheaply they were made. The inside of the heel was hollow, not solid. The rubber part of the heel that came loose had plastic screws to keep it in place, which were now bent.
My internal communication went something like this:
Should I bother getting them fixed? How much will it cost? How long will it take? Who does this kind of work? Wouldn’t it be easier, quicker to just go shop for new boots?
I decided to take a more practical approach: I will attempt to fix the heel myself.
Once at home I removed the bottom rubber part of the heel and, using a hammer, punched the bent screw back into place. They needed to be at a perpendicular (90 degree) angle, not at a 45 degree angle. A hammer seemed like the correct tool to use for this job.
Long story short, I managed to fix the heel, and I continued to wear the boots for a little while longer…but I doubt they’ll last another season.
I realize that I am taking after my parents somewhat…how many people would have gone to the little bit of trouble to fix that boot’s heel like I did? I don’t know too many…
Asking the question whether it’s worth it to invest time and money into something relatively disposable wears on me. Especially because so many things today are cheaply made and, here’s that word again, disposable.
It gets trickier with electronics. My old blackberry phone that ended up in water one time was dried out in a container of rice but it never quite came back to its optimal functions. The old Samsung smartphone went to the then 11 year old with a new battery in place, and he managed to get about a year of life out of it before it died. The tablets…don’t get me started. We have our own mini-landfill of electronic devices that were mostly gifted to the kids over the years which were kept ‘to try and fix’, something that requires time, money, and patience.
All of those things are in short supply around here.
At the same time, it’s key to role-model behaviour to our offspring. On the one hand, we try to teach them that the effort to fix something repairable is worth it. On the other, allowing them to go without a replacement for a time, until the money is saved up for example, is just as valuable a lesson.
Frankly, if it was me, I’d choose go without more often than the other option. I am known as the Queen of the Purge around here, after all. 🙂
How do you approach the many items collecting around your house which need to either be fixed, or replaced?