The Art of Repair
New Media Volunteer, Laura shares her thoughts and tips on reducing waste by repairing in her first blog.
My name is Laura I am a recent arrival from Australia to the good Kingdom of Fife. For my first blog, I have chosen to focus on the art of repair. Repair is something that I have personally only just started delving into myself, but I thought I would share what I have picked up along the way and some tips to get started.
What is repair?
Repair is defined as: ‘The act of restoring something damaged, faulty or worn to a good condition’.
To me it is a way of thinking. A way of looking at damaged or malfunctioning consumer goods with new eyes. To see them as an object with the potential for a new life rather than something that needs to be thrown away. It is a passion and curiosity for learning ways to extend the working life of the things we own and reduce the number of salvageable items we are throwing away.
I hate sounding cliché but we currently live in an age of mass and fast consumption. It is just a feeling but you can’t help notice a decline in the quality (and cost) of goods such as electronic appliances, clothes and toys. Even I have started exclaiming that “things don’t last like they used to”.
The moment something ‘breaks’ – a integral button falls off your best winter coat, the strap breaks on your favourite sandals or your phone starts to slow down – there is a greater likelihood that these items will be put to the back of the cupboard or drawers and eventually replaced with a newer shinier model. I don’t know about you, but I have let this happen time and time again. In 2019 I have made a resolution to buck this trend!
How to get started
I am by no means an expert and I wouldn’t feel comfortable fixing an electrical appliance just yet! However there are plenty of simple ways you can start incorporating the art of repair into your life. Below are three key steps to help you get started:
1. Think repair
It may sound fairly simple, but the first step is to acknowledge that repair is a viable option worth considering. When something breaks the first thing to do is stop and think. Ask yourself: What is the problem here? Can I fix it? Can someone else help me to fix it?
2. Learn a new repair skill
Interestingly there are numerous repairs that can be completed with minimal skill. You will be pleased to know that there are many ways you can learn new repair skills either online or in person at workshops.
There are a huge number of online tutorials and videos demonstrating the steps to repairing a range of everyday items. They range from simple repairs through to more technical ones. Check out Ifixit, a ‘global community of people helping each other to repair things’. They boast over 141,000 solutions for repair ranging from fixing your smart phone to mending a shoulder strap on a backpack.
If you are truly at the beginning of your journey, it might be easier to learn in a face-to-face workshop environment. As you may have seen Greener Kirkcaldy is currently running a 4-week ‘Learn to Sew’ course. This is a great option, but do not despair if you missed out on this workshop! You could check online to see if there are any other beginner’s workshops in the area, or ask a friend or family member for a quick demo on some basic hand stitches or how to sew a button on. If you don’t know anyone with sewing prowess, then start with some basic you tube tutorials.
I recently had a 15 minute tutorial with my mum, and, I must tell you, there is nothing more satisfying that performing a minor repair on a small hole or reattaching a button. It may seem small, but it saved my coat from being superseded by a newer model!
Greener Kirkcaldy run lots of different repair and reuse workshops, from sewing to computer maintenance. Keep an eye out for upcoming repair workshops on our events page.
3. Seek out repair services
Let’s be honest, you aren’t going to be able to repair everything that breaks in your home. The good news is there are a range of repair services out there for all sorts of consumer goods. If you haven’t already seen it, check out the Kirkcaldy Reuse and Repair guide which provides a useful local directory of repair services for a large array of goods.
If you can’t find what you need in this guide, make sure you take a quick look on google and search for local repair options. You could also phone a savvy friend or family member to see if they might be able assist you with repairing something. They might even be able to teach you how to do it!
I remember being devastated that the strap of my favourite pair of summer sandals had ripped at the base. Unwilling to give up on them (or pay for another pair), I went to the local shoe repair shop and £5 later I had a pair of sandals that lasted me 3 more years!
This has by no means been an exhaustive guide to the art of repair, however I hope it has given you some food for thought and inspiration to consider repair possibilities this year. Extending the life of every day household goods can be easier than you think.|