My six-year-old frequently has visible repairs on his clothing. Recently I watched on as another classmate started pointing and laughing at a patched hole on his shorts. The situation was quickly diffused as my son turned to him and calmly said: ‘My Mum fixes my shorts to keep them out of the rubbish, it’s good for the planet.’ Aside from bursting with Mum pride, it also made me realise that we need to re-normalise the idea of fixing and repairing things.
Growing up, I remember it was the norm to have patches on the knees of your corduroy trousers or a darned hole in your jersey, and there seemed to be a local repair shop for everything from vacuum cleaners to roller skates.
Fixing things keeps them in use for longer, saves on the resources and impact of buying something new and keeps them out of landfill. Repairing things has become a really important part of my journey to slowing my consumption, and I love how it has helped reconnect me to the value of things. I get that sometimes it feels like the quickest and easiest option is to throw something out and buy a new one – but I never regret choosing the option to give an item a second life.
Here are a few of the ways I’ve got into the repair buzz:
- Fix one thing: Next to the couch is a pile of things that need a simple repair. Once a week, I’ll grab one thing off the pile to fix. It never takes long, and it’s a nice mindful activity to do, or I can double down and do it while I’m binge-watching the latest series.
- Buy better: Where possible I will try to buy quality items that last, and I support brands that make it easy to fix and repair their products. A quick internet search will give you a feel for the types of warranties and parts and repair services that companies offer. From whiteware and electronics to clothing and outdoor equipment – companies are now starting to offer repair services as a point of difference.
- Outsource it: If I need to outsource my repairing I jump on local social media pages or ask around. I’ve found people to fix my dining room table, my vacuum cleaner, my shoes, and my winter coat – and I love that I’m supporting my local community.
- Hit the café: There is a growing movement of repair cafés happening in neighbourhoods around the world. People will volunteer their time to help you repair household items – it’s a pretty cool way to get things fixed, connect with your community and learn a new skill. Check out Repair Cafe NZ to find a local repair café, or use their resources and start one of your own.
- Use your voice: I’ve signed Repair Café Aotearoa New Zealand’s petition which calls on Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker to bring in ‘right to repair’ measures so it’s easier and cheaper for New Zealanders to get items repaired. It only took me 2 mins and I reckon it sounds like good common sense.
Fixing things or having them repaired feels good. I’ve found it’s reignited my sense of resourcefulness and I love that it reduces my impact and saves me money. I also love that repairing items adds to their story, it gives things character.
So next time something breaks, rips, tears, or goes on the blink – give it a second life, the planet will thank you for it, and I reckon you’ll be surprised at how good it feels.