REPAIR: Adding a Fourth R to Reduce, Re-use, Recycle | Seventh Generation
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REPAIR: Adding a Fourth R to Reduce, Re-use, Recycle


We live in a throw-away society. If something breaks, we simply toss it in the trash and buy a replacement. But by repairing simple items ourselves, we can save money and reduce the amount of non-recyclable trash that ends up in landfills. While I’m not quite up to repairing the toaster—I don’t want to electrocute myself for an English muffin—there are easy repairs that you can do yourself on common, household items. My favorite tools? Glue and duct tape (thank you, MacGyver).

There was something rattling inside the TV remote, and the volume no longer worked. Hmmm. Might they be related? With a small screwdriver, I opened it and found the loose piece that looked exactly like other pieces, saw where the others were attached, stuck it back on with a drop of Krazy Glue, and voilá! The volume button worked again.

When the strap on my favorite pair of sandals pulled out from between the lining and the sole, I opened the lining a little more, squirted in a little glue, and stuck the strap back in. And I do believe it’s stronger now than it was originally. I also used Krazy Glue to repair the frames of my eyeglasses, and I used a tiny screwdriver to tighten the screw on my sunglasses.

All of my umbrellas seem to be cursed, but instead of spending ten dollars for a new one, I spent ten minutes repairing it with a needle and thread. Sitting in a wiggly chair, I knew it was only a matter of time before I crashed to the floor like Goldilocks, so I pulled the rungs out from the legs, applied wood glue, clamped them, and the chair was sturdy again.

When I dropped a porcelain planter that broke into three sections, I glued the pieces back together, and when the glue was dry, I used duct tape along the inside break lines to insure that water wouldn’t seep out. And when it was filled with a new plant, you couldn’t see the duct tape.

Armed with basic tools, sewing needles and thread, a few kinds of glue, including Elmer’s, and my favorite duct tape, (which now comes in different colors, but I prefer the grey) I’ve not only saved a lot of money, I also have a sense of accomplishment by making the repairs myself.

So before you throw something in the trash, ask yourself: Can I repair this? Chances are good that you can!


About SJ Wilson
SJ Wilson has been writing novels for many years, including the recently published, The Soul of Fenway. She loves spending time with her family, especially at the beach. Her hobbies include genealogy, photography, American history, and baseball.

Photo: Alan Levine


NYCChica picture
Well said! It never ceases to amaze me how quick people are to just toss something without attempting what is usually a simple repair. It's funny that you mentioned MacGyver since my husband calls me that whenever I try to repair things around the house. He's teasing me, but it's also said with a dash of love and amazement that I was able to fix the item, sometimes making it better than it was. I even repaired our bathroom wall and waterproofed it so the paint wouldn't buckle from moisture, thanks YouTube! That was a number of years ago and the wall still looks great.
Jude113 picture
Youtube and google are other great place to look when trying to fix things. My husband, an engineer, has fixed numerous household problems from cars, to plumbing, to appliances simply by googling the problem on the internet. Youtube has the added bonus of how to videos. If you have a labtop, you can bring it into the bathroom, car, etc. and watch while you do the repair. This has saved countless dollars in repair bills and kept us from buying replacement products.