It is a sad indictment on our current Western society that we have to be reminded to consume less with the catch-cry of “Reduce, Re-use and Recycle”.
One of the most important ways to consume less is simply to repair what you already have. For some things this requires a degree of lateral thinking and sometimes it is nearly impossible, but we should try wherever we can. When buying a new item it is important to give consideration to whether or not it is likely to be able to be repaired or is it designed to be thrown away as soon as part of it fails.
Repair would have been the first (and probably only) option available to our forebears 50 – 100 years ago. If something no longer functioned you fixed it with whatever was to hand as they did not have the option of tossing it aside and getting a new one. This was due to a variety of factors, including isolation, availability of replacements as well as cost.
Most of us have lost many of the skills needed to maintain and repair household items. This has mainly been due to the accessibility of relatively inexpensive replacements as often as we wish.
This week I took one of The Duke’s belts to the bootmaker to have the rivets replaced. This is a quality leather belt that will last many more years so it made good sense to have it repaired rather than throwing it out (to landfill) and buying another. A new belt would probably be made overseas by someone who is not even paid a living wage. You also need to consider the environmental cost of transportation to Australia, the raw material and the resources used in creating the item. Instead, I have supported a local business, used 2 rivets and created no packaging by carrying it to and from the repairer in a re-usable bag. It cost $5 to repair and now has many years of wear left in it.
Although I had to outsource the mending of the belt, there are plenty of things we can repair at home. I have mended 3 pairs of socks this morning instead of throwing them in the bin. I hesitate to call it darning as that would significantly devalue the handiwork of generations of women before me. At least my efforts close the offending hole and extend the life of the socks.