Rather than throwing away broken items as soon as they break, see if they can be repaired in some way, or if not, recycled. Simple repairs can save you a heap of money over the long term and keep things out of a landfill. Here are some things you can repair, instead of replace.
Living in a throwaway culture has brought about a level of laziness in our society.
It does take more time to repair things than simply clicking a few buttons to replace them, but by doing this, we create a more circular economy, where things are given a second, third, even fourth life, and existing materials are valued rather than seen as dispensable.
Don’t get me wrong, I was that person who used to throw things away as soon as they broke or were damaged.
But, when I began my journey to living a simple, more natural lifestyle over eight years ago, I became more and more conscious about the waste I was creating on a day-to-day basis, and the footprint I was having on the planet.
I slowly shifted from the person who threw things away, to the other extreme… I started hoarding everything that broke, waiting for the day where I found a way to reuse, repair, or recycle this stuff, doing my utmost best to keep it all out of landfill and the environment for as long as I possibly could.
My home became cluttered with broken or old things; clothing, batteries, phones, sunglasses, used wrapping paper, backpacks, thongs (flip flops)… Anything and everything that was no longer able to be donated or resold.
This created another problem: Where could I store all this stuff?
Letting Go of the ‘Guilt’ of Throwing Away
It was affecting my mental health. I became overwhelmed by the amount of things I had lying around the house, and I didn’t want to be that person who hoarded everything.
I wanted to live a more minimalist lifestyle, but how could I do that with all this “junk” in my house?
So, I made a list of everything I needed to find a home for, and began researching how I could either repair or recycle each different item.
Some things weren’t able to be salvaged, and so I had to come to terms with throwing them in the bin. This was another challenge in itself, letting go of the guilt.
I had to accept that in this day and age, we haven’t yet created systems or policies in place that hold companies accountable for the ‘end-of-life’ stage of their products. It is what it is. We’re slowly moving towards that, but it’s going to take time to perfect and integrate into society. We still live in a throwaway culture, and that takes time to change.
So, I shifted my focus from what I couldn’t control to what I could.
I began researching how to recycle the items that could be recycled, and looked for places that could repair clothing and similar items like that.
Anything that couldn’t be salvaged, I gave myself permission to throw away.
How to Repair or Recycle Broken or Damaged Items
When finding recycling programs for certain materials, I looked online and typed in search engines, “How to recycle [backpacks, shoes, clothing, etc.]”. From there I looked for facilities in my local area that I could send my broken, old, or used items to for recycling.
Items I’ve recycled so far have included my old backpack (I share how to recycle backpacks, here), my old thongs (flip flops), and other common household items like batteries, headphones, laptops, phones, remote controls, and things like that. These items can be recycled at stores like Officeworks.
“Bring it Back” is a new e-waste recycling program Officeworks have created, where you can drop off e-waste items like computers and laptops, monitors, keyboards, remote controls, printers, mice, hard drives, cables and chargers, DVDs and CDs, computer power supplies, printed circuit boards, motherboards, batteries, ink and toner cartridges, and other items like that to your local store where it can be recycled instead of being sent to landfill.
Stainless steel and other metals can be recycled or reused for other purposes, too. Here’s how.
If you’re talented in the art of sewing, you can fix broken clothing yourself. But, if you’re like me and haven’t quite perfected the art of textile repairs, looking for a local tailor is really helpful, and it often only costs between $10-$30 per item to be repaired, depending on the material/item used.
Some of the items I’ve had repaired so far have included my camera stand bag (the zipper broke), a purple playsuit (a couple of the straps had broken), a swimming top (which also had a strap broken), and my handbag (the thin material inside of it ripped).
The best way to reduce how much waste you send to landfill is by only buying what you need, and when buying anything new or even secondhand, look for quality items. The better the quality, the longer it will last.
Yes, buying higher quality items and clothing is often more expensive in the short term, but these items are made to last, and over the long run, are more cost effective as they require less upkeep and repairs/maintenance.
It is often better to fix what you have rather than going straight to replacing damaged items with the “next best thing”. Repairing not only does your wallet a favour, but creates more space in your home, and prevents unnecessary waste going to landfill. Let’s go back to valuing and appreciating the resources we have, now, and move towards a more circular economy.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.
What items have you repaired instead of replaced? Share in the comments below.
Lots of love,