Put Your Repair Skills to Work Fixing Things Instead of Buying New

By Sher Warkentin in Thinking Sustainably

If you live in a house with kids, chances are things break—a lot. From smashed toys to torn books, my kids are often running to me teary-eyed to complain that something is broken, and my immediate response is always the same: It’s OK, we can fix it.

I’ve stopped a lot of crying using my repair skills, and in the process, hopefully taught my kids the valuable lesson that not everything that’s busted should be tossed away or replaced. It’s time to break out your tool kit , sewing box, or just a roll of tape to teach your own kids the importance of making repairs.

Life Lessons

Most common damages (like loose buttons and broken toys) don’t require a tremendous amount of repair skills to mend. The best thing about simple fixes is they’re often easy enough that kids can help out, which makes for a great hands-on lesson in repairing versus replacing. Not only will your children learn the importance of sustainability, but they will also discover a feeling of pride as they help make their things new again.

If you have repair skills that are more advanced and can repair appliances and electronics, it can also be a great way to give curious minds an opportunity to learn about how machines work.

Mend your clothes to give them a longer life in your wardrobe.

Develop Your Repair Skills

Start out small with your projects. A simple piece of tape on a torn book is something even young ones can do. As you work to fix it yourself, talk about why it’s important to repair what you already have rather than replacing it.

As your projects get bigger—like mending a hole in a pair of jeans or fixing a toaster—get your kids to be your handy assistant, grabbing tools (and using them if it’s safe to do so). YouTube is a great resource if you need some help figuring out how to fix certain things. There are videos for just about anything you can think of, like learning to sew or trying to get a fan to work again.

Even small repairs can make a big difference.

Call In An Expert

Just because something in need of repair is beyond your skill level doesn’t mean you should give up. Typically, it’s more cost-effective to repair something instead of replacing it, especially when you factor in the environmental cost of that item ending up in a landfill. Experts can repair everything from shoes to appliances. Seek out local shops, or look for a repair fair in your local area. Organizations have recently been springing up across the country in support of the repair movement, and many states have groups that routinely meet to work on these projects and offer support.

When It’s Beyond Repair

Even when you’ve exhausted every option and you still can’t repair something, try to think of creative ways to repurpose it, like using a cracked teapot as a planter. This can be a fun way to teach kids about reuse. Let them take the lead while having fun thinking up ways to repurpose a damaged item.

Taking the time to repair broken items instead of replacing them will not only save you money and produce less waste, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to teach kids about sustainability. This can pass along essential repair skills that your kids will use for the rest of their lives.

Share your own repair projects with us on Twitter by tweeting @TomsofMaine!

Image source: Sher Warkentin

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.


Why It’s Good

No matter how minimal your repair skills may be, fixing something yourself versus replacing it can save you money, waste less, and be a great life lesson for kids on sustainability. Fix-it projects are often simple enough that kids can get involved in helping and learn a great deal in the process.