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Good Gardening

Living Less Unsustainably: Repair

John Fischer

Hi all, Master Recycler John Fischer here with KLCC's Living Less Unsustainably. We all know the three ‘R’ mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Remember, recycling is the third option. But I'd like you to add a new second ‘R’: Repair.

It is always more sustainable to fix a broken item than to throw it away and get a new one. We all know that. When the headlight goes out on your electric car goes out, you repair the light, and keep the car. But many of us have been convinced by the planned obsolescence lobby that price is the only thing that matters.

Yes, repair can be more expensive in dollar terms-- or it can be free. I've been volunteering at fix-it-fairs for several years, and there are many people out there willing to mend clothes, repair lamps, sharpen tools, and reattach that handle to your item for no charge at all. You just missed the October event, but look up fix it fairs for November through February and gather your appropriate broken items.

Lane County Waste Management has a Repair2Reuse brochure on-line that lists businesses that fix things from appliances to window screens. If your zebra is broken, you are on your own. The internet is an amazing resource for repair information. Sure, you'll get targeted blender adds when you look up leaky Osterizer, but you will likely get good guidance on gasket replacement too.

I sharpen food processor blades, just fixed the air filter for  a tractor with J B Weld epoxy, and switched a fridge from left opening to right opening. Repair is easier than you think. And if you fail to fix something that's broken what you have is something that is still broken.

Credit John Fischer / KLCC
John Fischer recently repaired a tractor's air filter with epoxy. He says repair is easier than you think.

There are caveats. Electricity is dangerous. Treat it carefully. Tools are sharp. Use them properly or expect to be hurt.  Wear gloves when you can. You won't be able to fix everything. Even a professional gets stumped sometimes. But when you do succeed, you can let out a mighty Reduce, repair, reuse, recycle roar.

I'm Master Repairer John Fischer with Living Less Unsustainably.

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