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Repairs That Will Prolong The Life Of Your Stuff

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Don’t ditch that broken stuff! Mastering a few simple repairs will help you keep your stuff in great condition for longer, and waste less as a result.

Yes, we live in a disposable society, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Recently my husband and I have been trying to repair stuff around the house, rather than relegating it to the landfill and buying a new one. And there’s something supremely gratifying about making that stuff almost-like-new again while saving yourself the money you would’ve spent on a replacement. Not to mention, being able to keep your belongings in good working condition for as long as possible makes great sense from an environmental standpoint, too: After all, when you don’t have to replace something, you eliminate the need to trash the original and all the packaging from the new version, too.

Here are the five basic repair tricks we’ve benefitted from the most so far:

1. Invest in a Bondic Kit. Bondic plastic repair kits were a hot holiday gift on The Grommet this past season, and for good reason. You can use them to repair plastic, glass, wood, fabric — all sorts of objects. They’re great for fixing broken eyeglass frames, repairing glass objects, or fixing cracks in plastic storage bins. Chances are you’ll be roaming the house looking for an excuse to fix stuff if you get one of these gadgets!

2. Find out how to properly clean your toaster oven. In this case, cleaning counts as a repair: A clean toaster oven works more efficiently, so the machine doesn’t have to work extra hard to do its everyday tasks. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s trashed a working toaster oven simply because it’s gotten too gross and gunky to use. Luckily, it turns out that giving a toaster oven a deep clean isn’t as time consuming or as onerous as I’d thought (these steps from Good Housekeeping will have your toaster oven sparkling again in no time).

3. Brush up on your sewing skills. A rip in a favorite piece of clothing is the worst — you can’t wear it anymore but it’s not in good enough condition to donate it. Back in the old days, when fabric was expensive, people had very few pieces of clothing and what they did own was carefully mended and maintained… after all, it had to last for a long, long time! The art of sewing and mending is just about lost, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, with step-by-step photos and even videos, it’s easier than ever to learn basic mending techniques, such as fixing a zipper or sewing on a button. Invest in a little sewing kit and gather up all those clothes in the back of your closet that you’ve stopped wearing because of a split seam or a ripped pocket. It’s a great pastime while watching TV or listening to the radio.

4. Repair broken dishes. Next time you’ve cracked a plate or a favorite mug, don’t fret — the pieces don’t need to go in the trash. Indeed, it’s difficult to find recycling facilities that accept stoneware and ceramic, but there are many different methods for repairing broken china. One unconventional method even relies on soaking a cracked dish in hot milk to repair and seal it! And if you’re crafty, you might try out the Japanese art of kintsugi, which makes broken ceramics beautiful again by sealing cracks with gold (real or fake!). When you’re looking for a dish repair method that works for you, keep in mind that certain epoxies might render a dish no longer food safe.

Do you have a repair success story that saved something from the trash? Share your accomplishment in the comments below.

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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.

  • Barbara W. 18 days ago
    No points ? Repairs that will prolong your stuff -- THE LIST
  • tommy b. 2 months ago
  • JC G. 2 months ago
    Never try to repair or use old and cracked or otherwise damaged electrical cords. It's not worth it, they're just not trustworthy, and can easily cause fire. If they'r still in decent shape and they don't have lead as a plastic ingredient in the covering, then it would be better to perhaps use them to tie up tools or plants in the garden, etc.
  • Steven C. 2 months ago
    Instead of throwing them in the trash, stockpile them. They are worth some cash at your local junkyard / scrapping facility. If you only have a couple and want them out of your way or it isn't cost effective to cash them in, offer them on craigslist for free. Some scrapper will grab them.
  • Chris J. 2 months ago
    I'm sorry but the suggestion "Don't throw out electrical cords; learn how to safely solder and repair them yourself" is extremely irresponsible and very dangerous. Please people, DO NOT try to solder an electrical cord. Throw it out and buy a new one...unless you want to burn your house down from an electrical fire.
    • Patricia P. 2 months ago
      oh my goodness, I was just about to say this exact thing. Great comment!
    • Anthony A. 2 months ago
      Oh come on, depends on the outside covering. Bend it and if there are cracks then replace it. Never solder the areas next to each other, stagger them so if for some reason the heat schrink tubing exposes it won’t be in contact with any other wires. Use quality tape or better yet heat shrink tubing. Size it so when it shrinks it is tight around the joint. When using black vinyl tape, us only the best like the electricians use, otherwise it’ll unravel in no time. I’ve used a thin small zip tie at the end to prevent that! As you can see, it is not for the average person. An iron, tubing, quality wire, patience, and experience is needed.
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