Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It’s a great mantra. We keep hearing this, but some days it seems like an uphill battle doesn’t it?
I must say, I’m a visual person and for that reason I absolutely love Pinterest. I love the ideas. I find myself saying “Why didn’t I think of that?” a lot as I scroll through pictures. It really does help to get the creative juices flowing. I don’t always see the second purpose until I have a need and see where I could use something “else” that would work.
Then there’s the missing “R”, which is “Repair”.
Why isn’t repair in the mantra? I suppose it could be included under the header of reuse, but to me reuse implies use something more than once.
Most products aren’t designed by manufacturers to be repaired. If it can be repaired then you have to find parts which can be located in the same aisle with the Holy Grail, the no-calorie ice cream and the self cleaning children. It seems like the only way to find parts is if you have another matching item that you can pull parts off of. How many people have a pair of items and when one breaks you hold on to the other one “just in case”. Yep, that’s the beginning of a hording episode and yes I’ve been there. I was raised by a licensed packrat.
Then in comes the nagging question of how to repair it. I know I’m not the only one either. Back in the day we had repair shops on every corner… for TV’s, sewing machines, appliances, shoes, upholstery… you name it. You didn’t need to know how to repair it because of the shop on the corner. Now you’re lucky to find a computer repair shop that will actually fix a pc instead of just reformatting the hard drive and starting over (because they don’t know how to fix it and neither do you). So you’re left at their mercy if you don’t want to just buy a new computer unless you’re lucky enough to have that one friend that’s good with computers…(or cars, don’t get me started on that one).
I just read a great story about a couple who started a repair shop in their own neighborhood to deal with this very issue. I think it’s amazing. Check out the story – http://www.onearth.org/articles/2013/09/why-do-we-throw-our-stuff-away-instead-of-fixing-it. I would love to see a repair shop like this in most urban areas. Get a couple of handy people together, a few tools and a store front and you’re good to go!
However, until that happens, if you’re a marginally handy person like me you need a bit of help.
…but I don’t know how to fix it.
As my homeschooling mentor told me, you don’t have to know all the answers, you just have to know how to look them up. So here are a few things to get you started.
First, there’s Google. Who doesn’t love Google? Type in a model number, a product or even a question and it will have answers for you. Now, it may not have the answers you’re looking for, so be prepared to search a few different ways. Just by changing a word or two you can greatly change the outcome of your search. Most manufacturers are online now, allowing you to find product manuals, parts, places to buy parts or even message boards of people having the same problem you are who reached out for help from other people. Even consider starting your search with phrases like “what’s wrong with my” or “how do I fix a” to get you going in the right direction.
Second, there’s YouTube.com. YouTube is more than just music and funny videos of cats. Use the same search phrases and you’ll be amazed on what you’ll find. There are people on there that are dying to show you the skills and information they have. Thanks to YouTube I was able to learn how to do a factory reset on my husband’s smart phone which saved us $400 on a new phone.
Another resource is eBay. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who sell broken stuff on eBay. Sounds crazy maybe, but if you need parts for something you have, it’s a great resource. Just typing in the words “for parts only” into the search area will net you just under 25,000 results. Now imagine getting specific!
One of my favorites is Freecycle.org. I’ve been a fan of Freecycle for many years. I’ve gotten and given a lot of stuff through there. I’ve gotten everything from Lego blocks to cell phones to furniture and have given away things I didn’t need any more… everything from fish tanks, to a stove and a couple of cars. The free-to-join group of members are people who would rather give things away to people who can use them rather than putting them in landfills or scrap yards. If you’re a people watcher by nature, you may enjoy just watching the lists of things offered and asked for.
The better you get at repairs, the more options that are available to you like DIY projects, thrift store and garage sale buys… not to mention frugal bonuses like decorating and home improvements!