In the First World today we’ve cultivated a consumer culture powered by cheap products and high labor costs, which have conspired to make us wasters. We fill up our landfills with that which could be readily reused or repaired, and often use minor damage as an excuse to buy new toys. Missing buttons and chipped enamel are enough to fuel our latest shopping sprees, yet we never consider the practical or environmental cost. Not only do our discarded devices and accompanying packaging fill our landfills, there also fuel costs, man hours, and storage for the inane crap we all inevitably buy. According to the EPA over 44% of the United States greenhouse gas emissions come from discarded products and packaging. So, what can we do to tackle these problems?
Reuse, Recycle, and Repair – The Three “Rs” of Saving Money
Don’t be afraid of buying some devices second hand or passing them onto a family member. Now I will be the first to admit that I absolutely LOVE breaking that shrink wrap veneer and tearing into a new toy. That being said, most of my game consoles have come to me second hand and still play games to the fullest. The last I checked, the Galaxy S I sold to a friend is still making phone calls as reliably as the Galaxy S II. The computer I gave to my grandparents still checks e-mail and lets them surf the web just fine. By buying second hand, and giving devices away, you extend the life and value of the product. On top of that, you might also score some literal brownies from Nana.
Don’t be afraid to try a little repair work with your appliances. Consider the fact that if your device is literally broken beyond repair, well, you can’t make it worse. Some devices might even hold valuable components, such as computer RAM or Hard Drives. Get your hands dirty for a change and attempt to breathe new life into something. Even if it only works for another month, you’ve still gained that much time and value from your item.
Now if you are technically inept, or have a large appliance that is just beyond your capabilities, don’t be afraid to call a repair service to fix the problem. Spending $100 now to fix your washing machine must surely beat spending $600 on a new one. Plus, you can sit firm in the knowledge that you’ve helped keep a public job from going under, and kept another appliance from the great trash heap in the sky.
When you next consider a big electronic or appliance purchase, try and consider the age of our Grandfathers. To them, anything worth having was worth keeping, and anything worth keeping deserves a little sweat. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and put in a Saturday’s worth of work.
(Photo by Romain Guy)