Tuesday, 10 January 2012

5 things we should repair instead of replace

Some people seem to have supernatural abilities to fix things - from rewiring a radio to polyfilling a patio. There are a number of benefits to fixing things instead of tossing them out and buying new ones, plus you save money and the environment. In many cases simply sewing on a missing button, touching up a paint job or gluing on a broken corner can get your possessions back up to scratch with minimal effort and very low expenditure. So, what are some of the things that we can do in our home to fix what we have, instead of replacing them?

When to repair
There is no hard and fast rule here, but generally people tend to repair something if the repair costs are less than 50% of the original purchase price. Even if the costs are a bit more, there may be something to reducing waste and keeping with what you've already got. Heirloom items or pieces with sentimental value are always worth repairing.

1. Caring for your car
Although fairly obvious, cars need maintenance and repair from time to time. Instead of buying a new car every few years, which can really drain your bank account, consider keeping cars for longer periods. If you're good with your hands and know what you’re looking at when you pop the hood, consider changing your own batteries, oil, fan belts, spark plugs and more.

Top tip: By working on your car yourself, you can also dispose of old parts correctly and in an environmentally-friendly way.

Up, up, upholstery
Instead of tossing out that tired couch, why not spruce up the sitter by considering upholstery? There are loads of how-to videos available online for you to do it yourself, or you could support a local upholstery company and get them to recover the piece for you. Not only do you keep a piece of furniture out of the landfill, but you also reduce the need for more furniture, which is often made from virgin materials.

Top tip: Look for upholstery materials made from recycled fabrics, as these may be more eco-savvy and design trendy.

3. Saving the suitcase
Luggage takes a beating when you travel with airport handlers, conveyor belts and the loading in and out of cars. But luggage is also expensive, and minor damage can be repaired. You can patch over rips in luggage, even with heavy tape if you are in a pinch. Replace broken straps or handles with new ones and glue or tape worn corners. You might even be able to swap out broken wheels.

Top tip: Call the manufacturer of your luggage and ask if they have a refurbishment plan. Many designer luggage makers have good programmes.

4. Easy-to-fix electronics
All too often we fall into the trap of just buying a new blender, DVD player or other electrical goods because the previous one packed up. But getting an appliance fixed not only provides jobs for local electricians, plumbers and craftsmen, but also reduces the amount of electronic waste sent to landfills.

Top tip: Finding someone to repair your broken appliances is fairly straightforward, so either call your manufacturer or try looking up "electronics repair" on the internet.

5. Bless their soles
Many of us have a pair of shoes that we cannot bare to part with. They may have holes in the soles, or look a bit worse for wear. A way to liven up the old loafers is by taking them to a shoe repair shop. For a couple of Pounds you can walk out with brand new soles, giving your shoes a new lease on life.

Top tip: Repair expensive work shoes or outdoor gear like hiking boots, as these shoes can last a lifetime.

Prepare to repair
Many of us may have forgotten how to fix things, instead replacing broken or damaged items at the drop of a hat. Recently there has been a resurgence of those who are strengthening their DIY muscles. Whether this is for personal project reasons, to save money, or to, more importantly, reduce waste and save the environment, it just makes sense to repair your things instead of simply replacing them. 

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