The Lost Practice of Fixing Things

Yesterday I was sewing new elastic into a pair of pajama shorts I’d made about ten years ago.  Many people, DH included, would propose just getting new pajamas.  Other than the elastic, they’re still in good shape.  The material had been on clearance and gotten for about $2 a yard, when new knit fabric runs a good $15 per yard.  I prefer my hand made pjs over the fit of the store bought.  I spent a good chunk of time making this set, and with new elastic they’ll last several more years.

As I sat working on these pjs, I got to thinking.  Since I began sewing, it’s much more difficult for me to simply throw out old clothing, sheets, towels, and the like.  It’s not a money issue.  It’s the issue of how much good is left in the article about to be pitched.  With towels, it’s usually the edges that have become ragged and you only need so many ‘rag’ towels.  Our excess of towels went to the animal shelter, who were happy to get them.  Sheets have been made over into other things as it’s mostly the bottom sheet that gets worn out.  I’m still trying to figure out how to use old clothing (other than for rag rugs).

I got to wondering if it’s more difficult for me to throw these things out because I’ve spent so much time making clothing for myself and the kids that I have a different appreciation for what goes into it.  That train of thought led to larger issues.

Today, manufacturers make electronics, appliances, etc. to purposely wear out or be obsolete in a few short years.  The repair shop who has worked on my washers, dryer, and dishwashers told me that these items are expected to last five years.  Are you kidding?  My parents’ things lasted decades.  Fortunately we’re eighteen years strong on our dryer, and the washer is about ten years old.  That’s with a few repairs along the way which aren’t cheap.

That’s another reason people don’t fix things like they used to.  The cost of repair versus the cost of replacement are often so close to each other that it makes more sense to get new.  I remember my parents going to the actual repair shop with the tv, microwave, etc.

So in this age when every one is screaming that we need to leave a smaller carbon footprint and we need to recycle and have more efficient vehicles, why are we allowing this wastefulness in appliance manufacturing?  Why do we have such a desire to always have the latest and greatest?  Do we really need the tv built into our refridgerator?  Why do kitchens always need stainless steel appliances and granite countertops?  And if these things already exist, why do they immediately need to be replaced?  I watch a lot of HGTV, which is where I see the stainless/granite desire.

I like shiny new things as much as the next person, but am also content to wait.  What I would greatly prefer is a higher standard of manufacturing.  I like when items are built to last.  It makes me wonder if we accept the lower standards because, as a whole, people don’t build their own furniture, houses, etc?  Do we accept it because, as a whole, we don’t try to fix things ourselves as much these days?

My ten year old vacuum recently had it’s hose rip.  It’s a pricey vacuum and everything else still works fine.  DH and I found a replacement hose for $15 and he installed it with the help of a video on the internet.  I’m so glad to have only spent the $15 rather than to have gone out to get a whole new vacuum.  We’ve hopefully extended the life of this appliance another ten years, thus saving ourselves a much bigger expense.

I’m not trying to make a shining example of myself and my family, just pointing out that it’s still possible to do some things for ourselves.

It makes me happy every time the kids come to us with something to see if it can be fixed rather than just pitching it.  There used to be a spot on DH’s desk for things which needed his fix-it touch.  I hope they pass that mind set on to their kids.

I guess making that repair on my pjs set my thoughts done a hole from which I’m not likely to climb out.  I know I tend to be on the old fashioned side in my thinking, but I’m perfectly okay with that.

About homereferee

I'm a stay at home mom who sometimes feels more like a tape recorder yelling, "Get apart!".
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