Do you repair or replace it?
When things break, we have a choice. Do we repair or replace it? I can sew, so maybe I should mend that hole in my daughter’s favorite pants. Glue will fix that crack in their toy, and a little bit of sand or paint will solve that peeling tabletop. But is it worth repairing? Or should you just toss it?
These days, the push is on to “go green”. And throwing things out that might still be usable feels wasteful and shameful. We’re made to feel guilty for tossing out perfectly good items that may have only one small thing wrong that prevents them from being used still. And with good reason — our culture of disposable items has created a real problem with pollution and wasteful use of our resources. However, there are a few reasons why I will toss some things rather than spending the time and energy to fix them.
My time is valuable.
Sometimes, the amount of time it would take to patch that pair of pants, fix that appliance, or repair that toy is more time than the item is worth. Since I work from home, it’s easy for me to attach a monetary value to my time ($xx/hr). And if I can earn more in the time it would take me to fix than it would cost to by a new one, then repairing isn’t worth my time.
If you aren’t sure about the monetary value of your time, you can use other measures. Is the cost to your mental health or your relationships worth more than repairing that item? Is it less useful than any of the many other things you need or want to do? Then it’s not worth fixing.
That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to throw it away. Someone else might find that item worth fixing, and many places will value donations of broken items. Look for places that teach skills — sewing classes, mechanical repair classes, etc. And see if they might want your items to use for their students to practice on.
It’s easy to replace.
Sometimes, the item that has broken is something that is easier to replace than repair. I might be inclined to fix my dryer, but not necessarily my laundry basket. That’s because it’s a lot easier to replace a laundry basket than a dryer, both in cost and in ease-of-transportation.
Things that are easily replaceable include arts and craft tools, kitchen utensils, storage containers, and most clothes.
Things that are repairable, generally, are big appliances (refrigerators, dryers, etc.), special items of clothing (winter coats, fancy dresses, etc) and other more expensive purchases.
Some things though, can go either way. For example, a printer or a computer might be a bigger purchase. But it’s easier to replace than repair because the cost of repair can be as expensive as buying new. And many pieces of furniture might be easy to replace. But it’s just as easy to repair with a nail, glue, and a coat of paint.
It really will depend on how much skill and knowledge you have, and your investment cost.
My priority is my family, not my things.
This is probably the most important reason why I’m more likely to toss instead of mend. My priority is always going to be my family. And sometimes the time and expense of repairing an item will take away from my time and energy (and money) I’d rather spend on my kids.
It comes down to the cost-benefit trade off. If the repair can be made quickly, easily, and it costs less than it would to replace it (both in monetary value and in how easy it is to find or get), then I’m more likely to repair than replace. But more often than not, it’s not worth the costs that I’d rather spend on my kids.
It’s too out of date to be worth repairing.
This is the least likely reason that I’ll use to toss instead of mend, but it’s still important to mention. While I don’t necessarily pay attention to the age of an item, sometimes the item that breaks is so out of date it’s not worth repairing OR replacing. Out of date technology, clothes that are so dated in fashion they’re embarrassing, or items that might actually be dangerous (ie toys from 50 years ago) are likely to be tossed without regret.
Recycle, reduce, reuse.. practically.
While I’m all for reducing, recycling and reusing where possible, sometimes — and more often than not — mending our things is just not practical. I don’t have the skills or the money to hire the right people. Or if I do, I don’t have the time or energy needed to repair many things. Sometimes the cost of replacing — or just going without — is less of a burden.
I’d rather toss than mend, and I’ll toss it without guilt.