Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Repairing and re-purposing rather than discarding and replacing

One of the most important aspects of any low-impact lifestyle is to ensure that you minimise the amount of things that find their way to landfill sites especially when they are made of metals or plastics as they just sit there and form a blight on our landscapes, put our wildlife, watercourses and atmosphere at risk and cause untold damage that future generations will have to deal with.

So what happens when things in this house get damaged or break?

Birds don't care that feeder has shrunk
Well I suppose I'm lucky in that J has really great repair skills and the patience of a saint when it comes to watching you-tube videos and reading around about anything he doesn't already know how to fix - about the only thing he won't touch is significant plumbing and gas related stuff. So my little LED kitchen and garden lights have had their cables repaired and spliced several times to extend their life, garden tools are regularly sharpened and taken apart and re-assembled if they get stiff or the springs rebel - this keeps them useful and safe. My collapsed-into-the-pond-because-the-pole-rusted bird feeder was cleaned up, the rusty end cut off,the post re-fettled and it's now back in the garden, albeit a bit shorter but still useful and far enough off the ground that the birds are safe from the cats.
He also shares his skills at repair cafés when he gets the chance - these are another great thing put on by Transition Loughborough and many such groups around the country so if you do have something you can't fix then it might be worth hunting up your local Repair Café. On one occasion one of the other volunteers repaired a hole in his knitted jumper whilst he was busy sharpening and re-fettling a load of secateurs so they are a great place to share skills too.

Not my favourite job but...
On a more day to day basis, socks get darned, holes in clothes get stitched and when they can't be stitched anymore they get turned into cloths, rags for DIY projects and nice soft plant ties and then eventually shredded for compost. If it's a small hand stitching job I can manage but when it comes to machine stitching - that skill eludes me - I always seem to let the machine run away with me, the thread runs out or breaks or gets ridiculously tangled and then I get frustrated, lose patience and give up.

Favourite mug to water pot
Whilst my practical repairing skills are somewhat limited I'm quite good at finding new uses for things that might otherwise be thrown out - so a mug with a broken-into-a-dozen-pieces handle has become a water pot for painting, jars with non-standard tops become elastic band holders, tea-light containers, pencil pots and containers to root cuttings in, chipped plates become mixing palettes for paints, epoxy resin or putty or even saucers for plant pots and,when turned upside-down, they prevent outside plants sitting in water over the winter saving money on plant pot feet and extending the life of many Mediterranean herbs that don't like to sit in the winter wet. Finally, when that life is over, they are likely to become drainage crocks for plant pots.

Many other things can have a life beyond their original purpose - even those designed to be single use like yogurt pots, mushroom cartons and fruit punnets can go on to be used for seed trays, pot holders and containers for collecting homegrown fruit and veg before eventually ending up in the recycling stream via your council collection if you are in an area like mine or your local recycling centre if not. We try to remember that even recycling uses up resources that re-purposing would save so do our best to think about what we can do with our waste before we leave it up to others to take away but I know that there are many areas that we could improve on and keep looking for new ones.


  1. This is just how we live!.We try to reuse everything we have.Everything is repaired,if it can be.Ive said on other blogs,that I wish that I had been doing this years and years ago because I would have saved a fortune and less would have gone to landfill.xx

    1. Exactly Debi, thank you for commenting.


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