Repairing things instead of throwing them away and buying replacements is green. It is good for the environment and in many cases saves money. Those with one or more Mr. or Ms. Fixits in the family are lucky.
During a recent visit with my parents, I had an opportunity to talk with my dad about repairing stuff versus replacing it. Dad is definitely a Mr. Fixit. Over the years he has repaired a wide variety of items including cars, televisions, garbage disposals, leaky faucets, and electrical cords. My dad’s repair efforts saved our family many thousands of dollars and diverted a lot of things from the landfill.
It All Started on a Turkey Ranch
Apparently it all started when my dad was a kid living on a turkey ranch. Cash was short so when something was in need of repair, my grandfather, dad, and uncle would repair it, often by trial and error. Dad learned to use tools, solve problems, fix things, and build stuff at a young age. When my dad helped my uncle build a roadster and rebuild an engine, little did he know how many car repairs his future held. One never knew what might come in handy to make a repair, so Gramp kept all kinds of scraps, parts, containers, odds and ends. Dad kept the tradition going and to this day still has quite a collection.
When I was growing up my dad had a workshop next to the garage. It was filled with equipment I cannot begin to name, tools galore, screws, nails, nuts and bolts of every imaginable size, parts of this and that, and the requisite rolls of duct tape. Containers of various shapes and sizes held a myriad of useful bits and pieces. Dad had extra vacuum tubes and several pieces of test equipment he used for television repair. He also had parts and equipment for maintaining and repairing the family vehicles.
Dad had a lot of stuff in the workshop and depending on whether one had Mr. or Ms. Fixit leanings; it looked chaotic and messy or wondrous and full of potential. I admit I did not inherit the Fixit gene and to me it was messy and full of things I had no idea what they were. However, it was also a wondrous place where dolls went in with broken arms and reappeared whole. It was where Dad devised a fantastic contraption that enabled us to take warm showers (very short warm showers) in the middle of nowhere on camping trips. My car was magically repaired numerous times with strange equipment from the workshop.
I Might Need That Someday
Although I cannot remember a specific instance of Dad taking something out of the trash, it is part of the family folklore. Perhaps we were just careful of what we put in the trash or had Dad check out what we intended to throw out. “I might need that someday” was heard many times in our household.
It was not only bits and pieces that were kept out of the trash. It’s amazing how many different kinds of containers can be redeployed. An empty spice bottle becomes a home for tiny nails. Plastic food trays are used to sort small items for storage in larger containers. Shoe boxes are turned into storage boxes. Cupboards, drawers, and shelves are pressed into service. Recently I learned that See’s Candy boxes make great storage containers for a variety of items from extra adapters to photos. They are easily turned wrong side out, reassembled (often without glue), filled, labeled, and stacked. We must have eaten a lot of See’s Candy over the years.
Repairing Things is Green
Making new stuff uses resources and energy during its life cycle including manufacturing, transportation, and distribution. Repairing something eliminates the need for resources and energy that would have been used to make the replacement. It also keeps stuff out of landfills.
I am grateful that my dad is a Mr. Fixit, and although I have limited mechanical ability myself, I do appreciate it in others. Need something repaired? Not a Mr. or Ms. Fixit yourself? You probably know one. Trade repair work for a home cooked meal, volunteer to run an errand, or lend a hand and learn something new.