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Living Less Unsustainably: Pre-Enforcing

A well-worn pair of work pants, some epoxy, and a vacuum sit atop a washing machine.
John Fischer
Buying quality items will cut down on the need for repair or replacement, but one way to make things last- even poorly made items - is by "pre-enforcing."

Hi All. Fix-It-Fair fixer John Fischer here with KLCC's Living Less Unsustainably.

We all know the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”. But my new saying - still to be popularized- is "Don't let it get broke, and you won't have to fix it."

Many things are poorly made nowadays, and some are even designed to wear out sooner than they need to. But you can thwart the planned obsolescence conspiracy in several ways.

The easiest, and often most cost effective way, is to buy quality products that you know will last. Lifetime guarantees, brands known for longevity, and items passed down from friends or family will often outlast the user. My freezer is 60 years old, the washer is in its fourth decade, and our vacuum was old when we bought it used - before we were married. I don't want to do advertisements for specific products, but they rhyme with been more, play tag, and derby.

Another way to make things last- even poorly made items - is by doing what I call pre-enforcing. I didn't invent the idea. Most bridges are built to withstand much more than their rated capacity. It's easier to add to the beam size during construction than to pull a semi out of the river.

For the average consumer, extending the fly on that inexpensive tent, and adding stitches to the stake loops can make it last longer, and keep the economy minded occupants dry on a stormy night. Some pants come pre-enforced with double knees - rhymes with car part. But you can pre-patch the knees and seat on pants - my mom always did - and in your pre-patched clothing, you will be as hip and cool as I was(n’t).

An extra coat of paint might make that shed constructed with used materials last longer than the tools it's protecting. And if you've never used duct tape or epoxy to temporarily fix something for five years, you've spent too much on replacements, and not enough on quality tape and glue - rhymes with Vulcan mind meld.

John Fischer is a Master Gardener and Master Recycler and the host of KLCC's Good Gardening and Living Less Unsustainably.
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