12 Sep 2014
The answer depends largely on which is the more cost-effective option of course — you wouldn’t throw your car away and buy a new one if you had a flat tyre, for example — but over the years it has become increasingly more expensive to repair things than to replace them, and consequently we now live in a throwaway society.
This was brought home to me recently when I went to visit my grand-parents in Lancashire for a couple of weeks: Lancashire is the county next to Manchester, for all my American friends… it’s okay, we don’t know anything about the geography of your country either.
While I was there, enjoying the rain (there’s a reason The Lake District has so many lakes in it), the zip on my jeans broke, so I told Granny Money I needed to go to town to buy a new pair.
She stared at me with a confused look on her face.
“But it’s just a zip…” she said.
She was right of course – it was just a zip – but I’m pretty sure there are laws against walking around in public with your flies open even in Lancashire, and I wasn’t planning on spending the rest of my holiday in a police cell.
“Do you want me to get arrested?” I asked.
“Why don’t we fix it?” she replied.
“Fix it with what? A safety pin?”
“No, with a new zip…”
Genius! Why didn’t I think of that?
Why? Because I’ve never sewn anything in my life, that’s why. So it never occurred to me to replace the zip.
An hour later we were in town, we found a sewing stall on the market, and after the usual exchange about the weather (“Raining again…”) we walked away with a brand new zip: right colour, right length, and at just £2, the right price too.
Of course, that was the easy bit: unpicking the stitches to remove the old zip and replacing it with the new one is a fiddly job to say the least (particularly if you’ve never even threaded a needle before), but thankfully Granny Money has many years’ practice and half an hour later my jeans were as good as new.
“Make do and mend,” she said. “That’s how we were brought up.”
Make do and mend… it struck me that’s really what being FRUGAL is really all about, isn’t it? Making do with the things you have rather than buying more stuff, and mending things which are broken to get more life out of them.
Granny Money told me that people rarely used to throw things away when she was my age: they fixed them when they were broken, and when they couldn’t be fixed, they found other ways to use them.
“So what happens when my jeans wear out and there are holes in the knees?” I asked.
“We’ll put patches on them…”
“And what happens when the patches wear out?”
“We’ll keep the good bits of the jeans to use for patches on your next pair…”
“And what about the other bits? We’ll throw those away, right?”
“No, we’ll cut those up and use them to make a rag rug…”
“But first, we’ll take that zip out so we can use it again…”
I think we could all probably learn a trick or two from Granny Money, so my guess is you’ll be hearing more from her real soon.
Do you fix things when they break or do you throw them away? And what about re-using things when they’re beyond repair? Drop me a line below…