Got a broken clock, a smashed bowl or a holey sock? Don’t be so quick to chuck, it’s time to fix, mend, and darn.
The latest in our #lockdown Guest blogs series is from Sustainable St Albans volunteer Ali Hood. Ali is a Digital Content Producer with a strong interest in sustainability and has been volunteering her skills and creativity to develop our website content during lockdown. You can find her on Instagram at @alihood52.
Once associated with the wartime sentiment of ‘make-do and mend’, repairing broken belongings has fallen out of fashion in recent decades. Why spend time fixing something when you can simply throw it away and buy a new one?
But with increased awareness of environmental and waste issues, this underrated practice is regaining momentum. So much so that the European Parliament is taking steps against planned obsolescence – the deliberate shortening of a product’s useful life by manufacturers – to give consumers more power to repair their electronics.
And in this current lockdown period when retail has all but come to a halt and many new products are proving difficult to get hold of, mending things can bring us so much value. Here’s five reasons why.
1. Save money
Repairing rejects the idea that new is always better. By prolonging the lives of belongings you love, you’re reducing the need to buy new and saving yourself that extra cash. Even employing the professionals is (most of the time) cheaper than replacing an item.
2. Reduce your emissions
Repairing both reduces demand for virgin materials and energy resources and is direct action against unsustainable fast consumerism – a big win for the planet. In fact, waste organisation WRAP claims that by extending the life of your clothes by just nine months, your carbon, water and waste footprints all fall by 20-30% each.
3. Form a better connection
Loved items last. And those with a back-story are particularly special. Giving an item new life strengthens your sense of connection and ownership to your belongings. The BBC’s popular programme The Repair Shop demonstrates the emotions and sentiment we assign to objects and heirlooms and how repairing brings that history to life again.
4. Up-skill or support a professional
From sewing on a button to the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery, there’s unlimited learning opportunities waiting to be discovered. And when you do, you’ll feel empowered by the achievement. Don’t forget to also support the professionals too – from cobblers to jewelers, seamstresses to electronic technicians.
5. Discover mindfulness
Mending is a slow and soothing activity. The problem solving aspect requires creativity and focus and there’s a great sense of achievement once complete. The process of working with your hands away from screens can help relax and bring you into the present moment, a key way to foster mindfulness.
So what are you waiting for?
The next time you see a hole or a tear, try fixing it before replacing it.
There are plenty of online tutorials and YouTube videos available to show you how and pop-up repair shops are becoming ever more common too. Repair events are a fixture of Sustainable St Albans’ annual Sustainability Festival. Nearby Hemel Hempstead has its own permanent Repair Shed and London-based Restart Project also runs regular repair parties.
There are plenty of local people and businesses ready to help you repair, including:
- St Albans Wood Recycling – for wood of all shapes and sizes
- Make and Mend for sewing repairs
- Repair Shed – Dacorum
- Emmaus St Albans – find pre-loved items repaired and upcycled
- Charlie’s Footwear on Adelaide St – must be the longest lasting cobblers in St Albans
- Nearest Repair Cafe is in Hertford