Thursday, May 1, 2008


The Three r's of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle aren't enough. They let me off the hook too easily.

What about repair? Why don't we? Oh often costs more to repair something than it does to replace it, or it is too complex for us to understand how to repair it, or it was designed with materials that break in a way that doesn't allow for repairs. Then there's that sense of being overwelmed by stuff so a huge pile of things that need to be repaired seems unsurmountable.

Maybe it's time to rethink things so that the ability to repair it enters into wether or not I'll invest in buying it in the first place. Maybe it is time to commit to only reinvest in sustainable items when I have to replace something that can't be repaired.

I also think we need to retool the services available in the community. Do you know how hard it is to find someone who does shoe repairs? I need a tiny piece of my favorite pair of shoes replaced to repair them. They are red mary janes and the connecting strap that holds on the buckle was worn through - otherwise they are in perfect shape. Why can't I find a shoe repair person who can fix them? I mean I really revere cobblers and their skills, why can't I find one? Because we live in a throwaway culture, that's why. That needs to be fixed too. I have to actively resist the cultural expectation that this tiny piece of leather means these shoes are garbage and I need to buy new ones. I refuse to chuck these shoes and buy new ones all for the want of two inches of leather being restitched. So maybe it is time I learned how to tool leather? I need to reclaim this skill.

But it isn't just about repairing things that broken. There are things that are looking a little dingy, a little worn, and stained or unfashionable that still have plenty of life left in them - especially in the kids stuff. No one wants them and it would be terrible to throw them in the rag bag when so many resources went into making them and they really are still in decent shape. I need to respect that and renew, refresh, reconstruct, remake, redesign, recraft, recreate, and repurpose those things. I have the skills to do that now.

Maybe that is the biggest thing. I think we all need a re-education in thrift, and I can share my skills and maybe find someone who has different skills who'll be willing to share those skills with me. We can learn from one another and rekindle an appreciation for thriftiness. This kind of thing has to be freely given though - sort of an extention of freecycling - a skill giveaway though. It has to be about keeping stuff out of the landfills, about slowing down the conveyor belt of consumerist buying using and disposing of STUFF.


I think Wolfville would utilize it if we had one, it doesn't need to be a bricks and mortar school, it can float between the homes of people who want to support it, who see this as a valid way to react to the ills of consumption. There's so much talent here, and when you share your talents you refill your bucket, you recharge. Its that whole pay it forward thing. A DIY Free School doesn't just have to be about passing on DIY skills, its a place to reflect on what it'll take to reform society


Oma said...

Marta told me about three shops run by women in Ottawa where they "up-cycle" clothing. They take old, unstylish things made of fabrics created in enviromentally sound ways, and make new clothing to sell.

We are going to explore the shops soon.

That might be one way to do what you are suggesting ...

Jaymelee said...

This is a great post! The repair stuff is what trips me up the most when it comes to buying another item of soemthing I have thats broken. Its mainly the time and yes, the pile of repairs I don't get to! lol Its actually my next project to work into my schedule.

monkey said...

you are such an inspiration, m'lady. (and on a sidenote: red mary janes? those three words together make me smile.)

La Canadienne said...

That is such a good idea. I wish I had the skills to reuse things as much as I can.
PS: I have never heard of these stores in Ottawa. Which one are they, oma?

Mud Mama said...

Aurajan's is at 159 York Street in the market - great store! I have a lot of stuff from her shop (her stuff is less hippie than Tempol, but still has a world culture feel to it).

la canadienne, IF you choose Kings you'll need to make an improv trip to Wolfville for The Angry Beavers at Acadia and you can stop in at Hatt en Kul too. :-)