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7 Things To Fix Instead Of Pitch

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With a little research and some basic tools, you might be surprised at how many things can be repaired, thus saving them from the landfill.


I can be a bit of a cheapskate, especially when it comes to replacing stuff that’s broken, particularly pricey but uninteresting things like computer charging cables or a lamp. But money aside, it pains me to see my trashcan fill up with bulky items that I’m throwing away just because they don’t work right anymore, and they’re not recyclable. So in an effort to both save money and reduce our household waste, my husband and I have taken to trying to fix broken things around the house, rather than simply throwing them out and buying a newer version.


There’s something super-gratifying about fixing nonworking electronics, getting a piece of furniture back to a sturdier state, or making a garment look like-new again. An added advantage is that once you’ve channeled your inner fixer-upper by repairing broken items around the house, you can shop thrift stores with aplomb, knowing that anything that’s in disrepair can probably be restored by your deft hands. And we all know that thrifting is one of the greenest ways of shopping, since you’re extending the life of products, thereby reducing the need to make new ones.


Here are some of the many types of items you can easily fix yourself instead of replacing:




1. Chargers and other electrical cords. When my cat took a liking to chewing on charging cables, my husband got pretty good at repairing the cords. Indeed, it only took a soldering gun and a little electrical tape to get them working again. Instructions can show you exactly how to fix many degrees of frayed and broken cables. And his new skill paid off when I snatched a pair of lamps set out with a neighbor’s trash. When I got them home I discovered the cord had been cut on one of them, but Chip was able to fix it in about 15 minutes! Just make sure whatever you’re fixing is unplugged before you begin!





2. Inflatables. Whether you have a pricey inflatable stand-up paddleboard, an air mattress, or one of those new air couches, there’s nothing more disappointing than when they develop a leak. Many of these items come with a patch kit, which often gets thrown away or lost. But even if you’ve lost the patch that came with your inflatable, you can buy vinyl repair patches readily. Just find the leak by inflating your item and running your hand along the surface until you feel the air escaping. Then clean the area around the leak well with rubbing alcohol and apply the patch.





3. Refrigerators and other large appliances. Many appliances, including refrigerators or dishwashers, are not too difficult to repair with a little search online for step-by-step instructions or a YouTube video. We’ve repaired our icemaker feature and fixed other refrigerator issues, saving on service calls and ultimately extending the life of our appliance.





4. Furniture. Becoming an expert at repairing furniture will benefit you for years to come — and it’s often a no-brainer. Tightening some screws or dabbing some wood glue to reconnect a broken piece can resolve many furniture issues. Cosmetic issues can be fixed with slipcovers, upholstery changes, or a coat of paint. And again, knowing how to fix up a broken piece of furniture means that you’ll be able to find some bargains at thrift stores or antique markets.





5. Lamps and light fixtures. It might seem intimidating to work with electrical items, but don’t let that deter you if your favorite lamp stops working. A rewiring kit from the hardware store and a set of good instructions will help you get that lamp back to a useable state. And if it’s more of an aesthetic problem, often a new lampshade is all you need to make a lamp lovely again.





6. Broken zippers. A nonworking zipper on a jacket, a suitcase, or a handbag often comes with enough frustration to want to throw it in the trash. Luckily, most zipper problems can easily be repaired. Sometimes it’s as easy as cleaning or lubing the zipper tracks so the zipper will glide easily, while other times the pull might need to be replaced. Either way, knowing how to fix a zipper is a handy skill indeed.





7. Bicycles. Bikes are a super-green mode of transportation, but they’ve been known to break down at the worst possible times. Knowing how to fix most basic bicycle problems ensures you’ll be able to keep your bike in good working order, keeping you on the streets in a more sustainable way than if you’re behind the wheel of a car.





Next time something breaks around the house, take a stab at fixing it before trashing it. You’ll enjoy a sense of accomplishment, you’ll save money, and you’ll be helping the environment.





What’s the last thing you fixed around the house instead of trashing it? Go ahead, brag on your DIY skills in the comments!

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan
I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same. more
  • tommy b. 2 years ago
  • Frank S. 3 years ago
    Just checked out on YouTube how to repair a dishwasher not turning on. What great advice for a novice like me.
  • Micki C. 3 years ago
    For stuck zippers, just apply a little wax to make it glide easily......
  • Patricia G. 3 years ago
    Most of these ideas are not new. My mother and grandmother followed them. If it isn't broke don't fix it. If it is broke fix it. My grandfather even had one of those plastic chairs from walmart and the leg broke off. He attached a wooden leg by screwing it into the chair and it is still good as new. LOL I still darn socks if they are in good enough shape. I sew holes in t-shirts and patch jeans if possible just like they did for decades. When I have things I can't use I donate them to friends or to a charity thrift shop. Any bedding and towels that are stained I send to the animal shelter or vet. They use them for bedding. Dogs don't care if their bedding is stained. The charity thrift shop I go to gives old clothes that are not worth selling to some ladies that use them in quilting and donate them to veteran homes and hospitals etc. I pretty much only buy used items. They are made so much better than the ones now that aren't made to last. The dryer I bought a few years ago quit after the warranty expired. The company told me that they were not made to last forever. I just didn't think that 3 years was forever. Now I buy used and they last so much longer. I bought a used washer 10 years ago when I bought my house and it is probably 20 years old now and still running. My brother had to fix something once but it probably has another 10 years in it. I love keeping items out of landfills.
    • Vicki V. 3 years ago
      Patricia, the difference is that the small parts were made of metal years ago and the new ones use plastic parts. I was given an "old" Kenmore washer, was at least 20 years old, I had to have it reconditioned once, knew a guy in town who did that, lasted another 20 years.
    • Patricia G. 3 years ago
      I so agree. They decided it was better for the economy if it was cheaper to buy new instead of repair old items in the 60's. I repair whatever I can if possible. We had the front loaders (that is all that they sell) growing up in Germany when my father was stationed there and I hated them. The loads were small and you couldn't open them and add a sock you found etc at the last minute. I WILL never buy one of those. You can get the old ones free on freecycle when people upgrade. That is where I got a lot of my appliances and also the Habitat store.
  • Barbara R. 3 years ago
    If your cat chews wires just give them a coat of any hot sauce. After just one bite your cat will never chew wires again.
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