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Repair vs. Replace

One of the things that seems long forgotten by our society is that most things can be repaired as opposed to replaced.

DVD player quit working? Time to buy a new one.

Laptop crashes? Time for a new model.

Shoes coming apart at the seams? Time for a new pair.

Hole in your shirt? Toss it out and get a new one.

Yet these are all things that can be repaired, or at least used again in some way. 


CD and DVD players all have cords, motors, belts and trays, any of which can malfunction or break at one point or another. Identify the problem with your machine, if it won’t turn on check the electric and the power button. If the sound or picture skips, check the disk and try cleaning the player lens with a special cleaning disk or canned air.

If you’re brave and skilled enough to attempt the repairs yourself, make sure the player is unplugged, and make sure you at least have a basic idea of what you’re doing or you may make the problem worse. The best option is to check with a local repair shop. Chances are you can have the unit repaired cheaper than replacing it, plus you’re generating less waste by not tossing the old unit!

Computers also fall into that same category. Computers seem to be one of those items that everyone always wants the newest and “best” system, but is it really necessary to buy a new system to keep up? Most parts on a computer can be fixed or replaced, and even upgraded for far less money than going out to buy a new one. Plus you save the pain of transferring all of your old files to the new computer, and once again generate less waste by not tossing out your unit every few years.

If you’re one of those die-hards who can’t manage to live without the newest model, at least make sure your old system is donated and recycled properly.

Along these lines we also have cellphones. More than one hundred million cell phones are replaced each year! And what happens to those cell phones when we’re done with them?

Cell phones (and again all other electronics) can contain everything from cadmium, lead, arsenic, beryllium, mercury, polybrominated biphenyls, all nasty stuff that gets leaked into the food chain if cell phones end up in the landfill. In addition, electronics contain plastics, screws, paint, precious metals, and glass all of which use up precious energy to be produced in the first place, and now there they are just sitting in a landfill.

Now on to clothing.

Shoes can also be repaired. It’s best to start with a good and durable pair of shoes in the first place, but once those get warn down what next? A shoe repair professional should be able to do anything from replacing the sole to completely refurbishing the pair of shoes.  In fact, some of them can even alter shoes to your specifications. Want a shorter heel? or a different style? Just check with a skilled professional. They can also replace plastic heels or heel tips to slip-resistant rubber, and provide numerous other options to prolong the life of your shoes.

Similarly, clothing can often be repaired either by a professional tailor or in your own home. If an article of clothing splits along the seam, it’s easy enough to sew it back together relatively quickly and easily. Plus a spool of thread and pack of needles should only cost a couple of dollars and should last quite a while, unless you have a lot of major repairs. Pants can be hemmed to adjust them to your height, and to keep the bottom edge fresh and neat. Holes can be covered up with patch work. It may sound odd to some people to be patching up your pants, but looking at the styles today, no one will really be the wiser. Look at it as an opportunity to create something unique ant to express your own sense of style.

There are literally hundreds of other objects around your house that can be repaired when something goes wrong, so I challenge you to see how much money you can save, and how much waste you can avoid. Remember something has to happen to every single thing you get rid of, it doesn’t disappear just because it’s no longer in your house, and it’s up to all of us to take responsibility for the waste that we each produce.


About Fel Wetzig

Felicia Wetzig writes to appease the “peasants” in her head. A student of history and library science, she enjoys finding new ways to look at folklore. You can find her and the peasants at Scotzig’s Blog, and on twitter with @Scotzig .

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