Australia · basics · challenges · knowledge

Recycle, Reuse and Repair

As a general rule, I’m not much of a one for standing on my proverbial soapbox and trying to convert the world, one way or another, on any given issue, nor do I write today with the intent of converting anyone’s beliefs.

However…once in a while, although only occasionally, an incident will leave me uttering certain statements and questions, such as “What the …”, “Why?” and “I really don’t see the point!”

Such an occasion has just reared its ugly head. Let me set the scene for you….The Man of the House (MOTH), decided the time was right to begin some outdoor house painting. At the back of our house, we have two fairly wide and rather long verandas, which look out over our incredible views of the Tweed Valley. The ceilings of these verandas are his latest target with the paint brush.

We have a total of four ceiling lights along the verandas, each light covered with an enclosed glass light shade (enclosed to keep the bugs out of the inside of the shade). The shade sits into a metal surround, with a rubber seal between the metal and the shade, to hold the shade securely in place.

We removed the light shades for ease of painting around the lights, only to discover that the rubber seals have perished, no doubt due to being subject to the elements for the last four years since we put them up.

Today, the MOTH has taken one of the old perished seals to various local stores to find replacements, as without the seals, the shades won’t hold in place on the metal surrounds, only to be told he will have high hopes in finding them.

Okay, so what are they suggesting? That we go out and buy four new replacement light shades, just because the seals are perished??? And what exactly do we do with the old shades? Oh, of course, throw them away!

A similar incident happened recently, although with a happier ending. The electrical lead on our son’s laptop wasn’t working; we had to buy him a new one. An initial price check revealed that once we had parted company with $80.00 we would become the proud owners of said lead. $80.00?!! The MOTH dismantled the point of the lead (yes, he has electrical expertise!), found the broken “bit” and bought a new one. Twenty five cents worth of parts and ten minutes labour on the MOTH’s part, and it was all fixed!

What is it with our consumer driven society these days? What happened to the good old days of “repairing items, when broken”? That’s if they ever did break down. I owned the same refrigerator for over twenty years. It didn’t miss a beat; however the doors were beginning to show spots of rust, all over, apparently caused by our use of magnets on the metal, when holding up our children’s works of art for all to enjoy.

For years, I waited patiently for that fridge to die, only to be eventually told, by a man in the know, that old fridges never die! Finally, I bit the bullet and bought a beautiful new refrigerator, only to be told I should get five years wear from it, perhaps seven, and ten if I was extremely lucky!

How society has changed over the years. It is sad to say, but I do believe that we are living in a disposable world. No sooner have you left the car yard with a shiny new vehicle than it has lost value and become superseded! The same applies for computers, mobile phones, television sets and CD players.

Advertisers prey on the vulnerability of consumers at large, especially the young, displaying the latest and greatest “got to have it” items. Just bring your credit card along!

Hmmm….the credit card….Australia has a population of over 22 million people. Our national credit card debt is at $40.4 billion dollars. Let me take that one step further ~ Australia’s national debt, including mortgages, credit cards and personal loans is currently at $1.2 trillion, which is up by 71% over the last five years. And, it gets even better…that equates to $56,000 debt for each and every man, woman and child in the country!

Quick, pass me the scissors; I’m cutting up my credit cards!

Just when you’re thinking it can’t get any worse, I have found even more statistics…each Australian produces, on average, a total of one tonne of rubbish each and every year!

Whatever happened to the idea of recycling, reusing or repairing? We are going further and further into debt, all in the name of owning the latest and the greatest, or being forced into buying new, when the old could be repaired. The old is tossed out onto the rubbish dump and we are burying ourselves in the waste!

Help!!! Am I missing something here?

Being a firm believer that every little bit helps, for years now I have encouraged my family to recycle, reuse or repair old items. We have a compost heap down the back yard, we use the recycled items garbage bins for glass, paper, etc. I take old clothing to the charity shops and believe that repairs and a good coat of paint gives renewed life to all walls and furniture.

The World Wide Web is a big place, so how about we all start sharing our own ideas on recycle, reuse and repair? I’m open to ideas on the three R’s; how about you?

Oh, and about those broken seals on our four light shades? The MOTH is working on improvising ~ he’ll come up with an idea! 🙂

~ All statistics information contained on this post was obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. ~

9 thoughts on “Recycle, Reuse and Repair

  1. We are such a throw-away society it is sickening. Who wants to take the time to fix anything when we can just run down to the corner and get new…
    Kudos on figuring out a solution to the rubber rings, most times we can fix what we already own with something we already have.


  2. Hey Jo great post.
    I still have my Mum’s old Kelvinator fridge in the Garage and its still going strong! must be 70 years old! The old Phrase they dont make them like they use to. When I say this, my wife calls me an old fart! But I agree with your sentiment it is so frustrating that nothing is built to last. People look at you as if you are stupid if you want to repair an electrial appliance.The stats you shared on credit card debt are frightening and I am doing my fair share for the cause.Like you said cut them up, but many things these days can’t be bought without plastic.
    On another note several years ago I lived in India for a few months and they are the true masters when it comes down to recycling.India is such a poor country they recycle every scrap you could think about, it was a true education of what is possible. Thanks for sharing your ideas.


  3. Great post, Jo.

    I, too, am frustrated by the way we’ve become a disposable society. I’m guessing one has to be near or at a certain age to remember appliances that lasted practically forever or could be fixed when they broke down.

    I’m on the verge of becoming a minimalist as my answer to some of the problem. Over the years my husband and I have acquired tons of stuff, most of which we probably don’t need. I declared 2010 the year for us to simplify so we’ve been going through things, deciding what to keep, what to donate, and as a last resort, what to throw away. As we work on this big project, we’ve tried not to bring in more to replace it.

    When we do buy, we have been buying used items more and more. We’ve never bought a new car (because, as you said, it loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot!). Alas, used appliances are not easy to find now that repair shops for appliances are going the way of the dinosaur. We did find a shop that sells used vacuum cleaners when our youngest son needed one, but the shop closed about 6 months later because they weren’t getting enough business on the repair side or the selling side.

    As for recycling and reusing, we do a great deal of that now that we’re out in the country. You’ve reminded me that I should do a post about the “Scrounger’s Garden.” I think you’ll like it.


  4. FinallyGettingToEven ~ I’m happy to report that we have found some rubber replacements for our lights! All it took was a litle bit of perseverance. 🙂

    Stan ~ Thanks for dropping by! I actually had a read of an article on your website just yesterday morning. I’ll be back to read more today! After being out all yesterday afternoon, I came home to our internet being down, (would you believe it, after this post!) but happily it’s all fixed today. (Cost to repair ~ $0. Time ~ approximately 3 hours!)

    You’re right, we do need credit cards these days, to purchase over the internet or pay bills online. I think we have grown accustomed to the convenience. And that Kelvinator would be an antique! Wow, 70 years old!

    Robin ~ Your posts always inspire me, and I will look forward to “Scrounger’s Garden”…sounds interesting.

    This morning at breakfast, my two youngest kids and I had a discussion about old toasters. My son had crumpets (do they have crumpets in the USA?) and we were discssing how pop up toasters don’t cook them evenly. I told the kids about the old-fashioned toasters that didn’t pop! Emma tells me there is a store not far from here that she’s seen on her way to school, where we might be able to get one! Will surely be second hand, but if it does the job…great! 🙂


  5. We do have crumpets but they are in the “British foods” (import) section of the grocery store. They are a recent addition. I first had them when my husband and I lived in London for a summer. They remind me of what we call “English muffins” except crumpets are a little spongier.

    An old-fashioned toaster that works would be a great find!


  6. That’s funny…English muffins here are like little hamburger buns, just perhaps a tad sweeter! And I’ll let you know if I can find an old-fashioned toaster. 🙂


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