Green Tip 15 - If It's Broke, Fix It

Hocking Hills, OH –

Last week I discussed purchasing durable products, products that last a long time. The article was called "Demand Durability. To recap and expand, here are the primary reasons for buying durable items:

1. Less valuable resources are used the longer you hold on to an item.
2. Less energy is used in the manufacturing of a product, because not as many items are made if you are holding on to something longer.
3. Less pollution is going into the environment (air, land, water) because not as many new items are being made.
4. Less material is going to the landfill, so valuable space is saved.
5. Less of your money is being spent on repurchasing items over and over that should last. This is money that could be used for retirement, college, vacations, gas, food, utilities, and more.

Cheaply made goods that don't last have been the result of a couple of things that have happened over the past couple of generations. Consumers have demanded less expensive goods so that they can buy more. Businesses have responded by producing cheaply made goods that don't last. Somewhere in all of this, businesses even figured out that if they make disposable items (even items like refrigerators and washers), they could make a good buck by having people purchase more items, more frequently. This is a vicious cycle that has to be broken not only to be environmentally sustainable in our communities, nation and our world, but to be economically sustainable as well. To make more products faster and cheaper, many wonderful manufacturing jobs have been sent abroad. Many of these goods are not produced in a sustainable fashion due to low environmental standards. Plus, there is so much pollution created and energy wasted in the transporting of goods.

We consumers can help to break this trend by demanding durable products. With this we must sometimes be willing to pay a higher price for a higher quality item (at times even this doesn't work). Sometimes we might have to wait to make a purchase. Another way to break this trend is to purchase used items, borrow from someone or rent an item. Finally, to the topic of today's green tip if it's broke, fix it. Fixing something that is broken is a terrific way to extend the life of an item. It's surprising to me how much people will throw away before attempting to find a part to fix something.

Eight years ago my husband bought me a top-of-the-line digital camera that was quite pricey. After two years and minimal use, a major part broke on this camera. The clerk at the camera repair shop suggested that I just go ahead and buy a new camera, as the cost of the part would be about the same as a new camera. Refusing to purchase a new camera, I paid for the part and kept my old camera. Now, the camera is eight years old and still going strong. About eight years ago we purchased a new washing machine. During this time, it has broken twice, the first time only after two years. For the first repair, the repairman suggested that I buy a new washer, as the part would be so expensive. Once again, I refused. There is absolutely no reason that a durable item (at least it used to be considered one) such as a washing machine should break down after two years. A few years back we had a gas grill, which parts were rusting and breaking only after two years. My husband searched online, found some parts and fixed the grill. My husband takes his dress shoes to the tailor for resoling. We take our clothes to the tailor for resizing and new zippers. When our wood furniture breaks, we fix it.

The Internet is a convenient way to find parts for so many items. If you are not handy, support your local repair people such as carpenters, appliance repair, shoe repair, tailors. Have them fix something for you. Remember: the longer you hold on to something, the better off the environment is, the better off your pocket book is. Plus, by refusing to repurchase items that should last longer you can send a message to businesses that profit from making cheap goods "Change your ways, or we won't buy your product".

Byline Bio: Gwen Corbett, Owner of Bear's Den Cottages, Green Lodging
Helping Businesses and Individuals to Go Green