I remember a Saturday Night Live sketch from years back about a Disposable Toilet. Basically, one flush and you found yourself completely unbolting the thing from the floor and installing a new one. It was ludicrous, but it made a point.
Just about everything these days is disposable.
Even things not marketed specifically as “disposable” are still considered easy-come-easy-go items. If it rips, buy a new one. If it breaks, buy a new one. If it doesn’t match our décor anymore, buy a new one. Out with the old, in with the new. . . everything’s a dime a dozen. Who needs stuff made to last when we can just. . . you guessed it. . . buy a new one!
When did we stop fixing broken household items? When did we start seeing a hole in something as a license to pitch it? When did we become so entrenched in consumerism we forgot to cherish the things we already own?
We live in an era that has never heard of a mending basket. Who in their right mind would mend something? Do they even sell darning needles anymore? Socks are cheap. Why struggle with a needle and thread?
To be honest with you, I don’t darn our socks. The main reason being that most socks aren’t worth the thread I’d put through it. Things aren’t made to last and I’ve had to come to grips with that disgusting reality more than once. But, I’ve come up with solutions. . . solutions that don’t make me feel so bad about not being able to repair everything.
My solutions are rather simple:
- Choose quality as often as you can. One or two high quality items that will last years are worth the initial price tag simply because they won’t have to be replaced in a couple of months. This may translate into fewer toys, clothes, kitchen gadgets, and tools, but aren’t we all looking for a bit of breathing room amongst our clutter?
- Fix it if you can, repurpose it if you can’t. So my socks aren’t worth mending. That doesn’t mean they’re totally useless. Cut them up for rags, stuff pillows with them, give them to your kids for sock puppets (the holes add character!) I have piles of holey t-shirts waiting to be transformed into diaper wipes and lay-in liners. Broken dishes make lovely mosaics. Your worn-out tennis shoes are nearly begging you to wear them when you mow the lawn. Fix what you can: mend it, patch it, paint it. But, if it’s beyond repair, give it a second life before sending it mindlessly to the dumpster.
- Redo it or live with it. So, last year’s table decoration doesn’t fit this year’s décor? Paint it, add something to it, take something away from it, redo it to fit your style OR live with it just the way it is. We are so very fickle at times. What suits us today quickly becomes yesterday’s news. We are no longer content to rearrange the furniture, we want all new furniture! Now, I’m not going to tell you that I don’t love to change things up. I adore a new look just like the next girl, but there is a limit. A constant need for change in your life deserves a closer look. . . maybe a dab of contentment is the perfect accessory this season.
Really, what it comes down to is perspective. How do you see the things that surround you? Do you see them with a “disposable” eye or with a “potential” eye? Is the glass half-broken or is it nearly perfect? You decide.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.