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Repairing your stuff - it's not just about saving money

In our throwaway society, advertisers tell us that we love to shop. To acquire new things, we often have to ditch old possessions when space becomes an issue. We make excuses when something "just has to go" - not least of which is, "it's broken".

Photo Credit: Emiko Monobe

People who choose to repair their things instead of tossing them out stand to save money and the hassle of shopping, but why else do they go to the effort of repairing?

Why do people go to hardware stores for advice on how to mend broken furniture? Why do they ask a friend to help repair an electronic device, or search for information online to help them repair their CD player? The payback for time spent may seem poor when new goods appear inexpensive.

One answer that comes up time and again at Perth’s Repair Cafe is that repairing your own things creates a strong sense of satisfaction.

The good memories that we associate with buying and using something can be extended by repairing it too.

As part of the worldwide repair cafe movement, which encompasses over 1,500 locations globally, visitors bring broken clothes, bikes, furniture and other household items from home and repair them with the help of a volunteer expert. Each repair is an opportunity for the visitor to learn new skills.

One visitor to Perth's repair cafe commented that when his dining chair broke, he wanted to learn how to repair it properly himself so he decided to seek help from a volunteer expert. The outcome was the beautiful Marri chair going home to again complete his dining set, and the visitor gaining some useful techniques for the future.

By embracing a repair culture, we stop seeing our material possessions as temporary objects that can be discarded before their time. Repairing gives us an increased sense of ownership and accomplishment, control over our lives and pride in newfound knowledge and skill.

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