Note to Self:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Repair vs. Recycle

I came across this manifesto at Open Bicycle (click it to make it larger)...It really makes you think, at least it did to me. I always feel I'm "doing my part" when I recycle (and feel guilty if I don't). But just imagine if we didn't recycle (or replace things)...we repaired them. The simplest example that comes to mind are socks...yup socks, what you where on your feet. I remember when I was a kid my mom sitting in the evening and darning our socks rather than purchase new ones. She would put an old light bulb inside it to hold it in place as she sewed...does anyone still darn socks, I wonder. When mine were out or sprout a hole it goes in the garbage or rag bin. Time, I suppose...it all boils down to time. Who today has the time to repair everything? But what is time? I say I'm so busy today...but I can only wonder how much of my busyness is self imposed...like surfing the net, flipping channels, and even maintaining this blog. Repairing things is probably a good thing...ah, but the time.

5 comments:

Jeff said...

We don't darn them, but I will cut them up and use them as rags in the workshop.

Also...darning socks primarily was done when socks were wool. Would one use wool yarn to darn cotton socks?

Joe said...

We didn't have wool socks...still don't. And my mom darned them with thread, not yarn. But that's not the point...it was a quick example...we live in a disposable society today.

urbanwriter said...

Don't get mad Joe, but 'we live in a disposable society' always gets my lights lit.

For every plumber that is getting rich (and I've yet to actually meet one) there are ten people 'repairing' things for others. Plumbers, electricians, bicycle mechanics, locksmiths, camera repair, gunsmiths. And I know people who have stopped doing 'retail' repair in those areas because people are plain and simply not prepared to pay.

People don't want to pay you $10 to adjust their derailleurs; the fact that you've got several thousand dollars worth of tools, inventory and experience at hand never enters their mind. Someone brings in a lock, and it's not working, and they want it fixed. Well, if it was a Schlage (insert other 'quality' brand at will) I can probably get a great variety of the repair parts, the difficulty is that the customer doesn't think they should pay for the fact that their lock is thirty (yes 30) years old and I can still get parts for it.

And repairing stuff for 'free,' as long as you have the time, is great if you enjoy doing it. But where do you put all those axles, and cones, and odd-ball headset bits. And the locks, only four or five brands, will require an intricate collection of tail-pieces, mounting hardware, pins, blanks, rim cylinders and KiK cylinders.

In both cases how do you pay, when you're 'fixing for free' for the bench-grinder, the drill-press, the arbor-press, the BB taps, derailleur alignment guage and hundreds of other bits of kit?

And how do you pay for the space?

You can't get stuff fixed, in part, because people are not prepared to pay what it costs. So locksmiths go out of business. Bike shops go out of business.

Boredom is another reason you cannot get stuff fixed. You're tired of the styling. It's not this season's colour. It doesn't match my lifestyle or colourway. A relative of mine was given a set of kitchen pots, bloody expensive pots at the time. And they still worked well 30 years later. No enamel chipped off. No broken handles. All the lids still fit. But they got bored with them. So the 30 year old pots were given away.

The new pots didn't last 8 years.

And the tinkers no longer come around.

Jeff said...

"Don't get mad Joe, but 'we live in a disposable society' always gets my lights lit."

I recently needed a new battery for my cordless phone. I went to the Borg and they actually had the battery....but also found that the same identical phone with battery was less than the battery alone! I bought just the battery. ......but somehow, I think that THEY still won. Ugh.

Joe, I am curious how one fills in a 1/2" diameter hole in the heel of a sock with only thread. I wore wool crew socks up through my college years (mid 80's). Then, I could no longer find them.

And since I am on a rant here, it also bugs me that it is virtually impossible to buy ONE pair of socks. I don't want 3 pairs. I want ONE. I don't want 3 different colors all bound together. I want to choose ONE color.

JOe said...

"Don't get mad Joe, but 'we live in a disposable society' always gets my lights lit."

Well...first of all, I am not mad, I would say it is more of a feeling of disillusion.

I agree with the phone problem...electronics are built today as not to last or be repaired...they are built to be replace (and, it seems in a shorter and shorter time spans). A few years ago I took an old TV in to be fixed...it would have cost me twice as much to have it repaired as it would to replace it, thus I replaced it (I consider myself part of the problem as well).

As far as the sock thing...not sure how she did it...if I recall she would actually knit a little patch with the thread...we always had socks with these on them (and hand knitted gloves--made with yarn--that were never quite the same size as each other).

And I may be wrong, but if you look in some of the big box stores (ugh!..I know, I know) you should be able to purchase a single pair of socks.