Monday 6 September 2010

Make Do and Mend

The theme for the posts this week is Make Do and Mend. Originally I thought that we would be having a light hearted look at some of the things that we have kept alive with home repairs. As I thought more about the topic I have realized that it is an important part of being in Transition. During the 1950s manufacturers started to use plastic instead of metal. This reduced costs but also made it harder to repair damaged items. When combined with the rise in domestic labour costs and the shift in manufacturing to cheap labour on the other side of the world, the result has been that it is often cheaper to replace items than to repair them. Both as a country and as individuals we are now less resilient, we can neither manufacture nor repair many of the appliances that we use daily.

In October we will be looking at how this leads us to squander metals and other raw materials that are in very limited supply – our descents will never forgive us for destroying these precious commodities. What makes it worse is that the solutions are readily available and could easily be put in place if we put pressure on manufacturers to design items that can easily be repaired. What we can do is encourage people to value sustainability over fashion and not to see having the latest gadget as something that enhances their social standing! Repairing items would provide local employment and develop a wide range of skills; the blacksmith used to be a respected person in the community.

I hate both waste and shopping so I am naturally inclined to make do and mend. An attitude that I inherited from my father along with a good selection of tools, some of which are shown in the picture above and are all at least 60 years old. I was born in the 50s and people were still very much influenced by the war years when there were shortages of everything and to waste something was not socially acceptable.

I had a look around the house for things that I have recently mended, when if I had not had the skills and tools it would have been cheaper to have bought new. The chair is one of a set that was made in Africa many years ago – I have replaced the seats with foam from Norwich Market and material from John Lewis – just two left to do now! The washing machine has been kept alive for many years by a local repair man and parts from Espares – some people will have had 3 machines during its 20+ years. The Internet has made it much easier to track down supplies and I have found basic components, such as bearings, to mend several garden tools that I would never have got hold of from local shops - even from Thornes in Exchange Street which is an Aladdin’s cave of tools and materials.

I look forward to reading how others have extended the life of their possessions and the problems that they have encountered. (Many items that need repair can be offered on Freegle and the parts used to repair a similar item)

1 comment:

  1. It is always better to repair rather than replacing, even if you just get a quote first to find out how much the repair will cost.