The Non-Consumer Advocate Goes all Chuck Norris on Ya'

by Katy on November 24, 2009 · 14 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published column. Enjoy!

My ten-year-old son is very focused. But not necessarily on what you want him to be focusing on.

Iron Giant?




Drawing pictures of The Iron Giant?

Super focused.

Remembering to bring his lunch box home from school?

Not so focused.

Luckily, we have a few extra lunch boxes and water bottles. We can go three days before starting to send him to school with his lunch in a burlap sack.

So he was bringing home an armload of lunch boxes the other day, but had a super worried look on his face.

One of the lunch boxes had a broken handle, and horror of all horrors, it was his brother’s one.

He quickly blurted out the source of his worry.

“I broke Colin’s lunchbox, and he’s gonna go all Chuck Norris on me!”

A quick once-over told me the lunch box could be fixed with a needle and thread.

And sure enough, a few minutes with the sewing kit saw the lunch box as good as new.

Whew . . . .

No need for Chuck Norris.


We’ve become a society where it’s often cheaper to replace an item than it is to have it repaired. Even so, the true price of a throw away culture is beyond the wallet. Our landfills are full of items that could have been fixed with a bit of ingenuity and elbow grease.

We should be proud of our old patched up belongings. Instead, we seem to only take pride in owning the newest and shiniest.

So next time a household item gets busted, think past that quick and easy replacement.

Or . . . The Non-Consumer Advocate is gonna get all Chuck Norris on ya’.

Do you repair or replace? What’s your proudest repair? Tell us all about it in thecomments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

atsquared November 24, 2009 at 7:08 am

Last winter, the uppers of my cozy warm winter boots started to pull away from the bottom of the boots, letting water and snow get in. The night before we headed out snowshoeing, my husband fixed them with clear silicone that he had left from doing some bathroom renovations. It was meant to be a temporary fix, but it worked wonderfully! He had to redo it again later in the winter, but it kept me from buying new boots. Not sure how much longer I can make them last, but hopefully through the first half of this winter so I can take advantage of “end of season” sales.


Carla November 24, 2009 at 7:18 am

Yesterday I replaced a broken button on a pair of my husband’s pants. I had already replaced the inside waistband button on those pants and now the outer waistband button broke, too. Only this time I couldn’t find a color match in the button jar, so I swapped the button from the inside (matching) to the outside and the outside button (non-matching) to the inside.


Anyway, we constantly find perfectly good clothes at the Goodwill and the only thing we can find wrong is a missing button. Good grief.


Nancy from Mass November 24, 2009 at 7:36 am

I have a few proud ‘repair’ moments. Like when our 32″ tube tv died, I looked in google for troubleshooting, found it’s probably the tube. pulled the tv apart, called 10+ places, found a replacement tube (for a dollar each), put it in and presto, tv! unfortunately, the replacement tubes only last about 6 months (according to the tv repairman), and a year later the tv died again, now I can’t find any tubes and we ended up getting rid of the tv. Also, the dryer died. I showed hubby that it was probably the belt, it was. I ordered a new belt, downloaded the instructions from the internet and 20 mins later, our dryer was working again! (we mostly line dry, but sometimes you just need to use the dryer). most recently, my electric element in the oven blew (literally) and after talking to the downtown appliance store, they ordered the new element, explained carefully how to replace it and we did. (saving us 79+ in service fees!) currently hubby is trying to fix the toro snowblower hose that is leaking. (it’s about 30 years old) hopefully, we’ll be able to do it. (sorry this is so long!) :o)


Lisa November 24, 2009 at 12:14 pm

My proudest fix would be difficult to determine since I tend to try to salvage everything. I think perhaps it would be the cedar chest I re-did. I bought it at a yard sale for $5. It was beautiful except for the top. It had evidently sat outside in the weather. BOO! I removed the edge trim, padded it with an old blanket, secured some vinyl leftover from another project, and replaced the trim. On the inside, I lined it with a piece of satin. Now it’s a storage bench.


fairydust November 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Our best fix was probably the $10 oven element I ordered online that fixed our stove, rather than the $400 replacement stove I was thinking we’d need (DH did good on that one!!!). On the very low end of fixes, one of my ancient vinyl lunchboxes (received as a giveaway/promotion more than 10 years ago) started to fray at the corner. I’m not particularly handy with needle and thread, but in this case a few well-placed staples did the trick – good for another 10 years (hopefully)!


Lindy November 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm

This is not a major fix but I was proud of myself. 🙂

When my daughter was a toddler she had outgrown her coat. It fit great everywhere, except the arm length was to short. I bought some ribbing (stretchy material) at the fabric store. I sewed it on the bottom of the sleeves, it matched perfect and looked like it had been made that way.

For the price of .26 cents I saved myself from having to buy a new coat that winter.


HeatherS November 24, 2009 at 7:15 pm

We’ve fixed our washer twice (same part both times) and dryer once. We were able to find troubleshooting and repair advice online and the parts through a local appliance repair shop. We have also replaced the element in the oven too.

I am trying to get better at sewing fixes. I’m not the greatest at sewing but so far I do pretty good as long as the rip is at the seam (I’ve fixed clothes and a comforter) or if it’s just a button. I’d be embarrassed to have a seamstress see my work, but as long as no one sees it, that’s ok!


allison November 24, 2009 at 8:23 pm

I am laughing because the message before this one in my in-box was a series of pics called ‘there! I fixed it!” with all kinds of ingenious fixes. Yes, some of them were pretty whacky, but none-the-less, they all got the job done. Sometimes it is not at all about ‘pretty’.


Valerie Heck November 25, 2009 at 7:21 am

My favorite thing to do is buy furniture used, sand it down and repaint it, add new drawer pulls and tada! A new piece of furniture that will last a lifetime. I hate ‘new’ furniture in stores today that is made of week compressed board.
Also while in College they rebuilt our art building and put so much on the curb. I have at least 4 free tables, a few carpentry vises, a chalk board, a ficus tree and more! Some of the tables were a little worn but they are for my studio so they’ll work great!
One more (this is it, I promise). I need folding chairs for an event in January, so I’ve been going to the restore and getting them for $3 each! I’m going to get some spray paint to clean up the look. I love the wooden folding chairs best.


pat November 25, 2009 at 9:08 am

Two weeks ago after doing a load of laundry, I was matchng up the socks when I discovered that my 14-year old daughter had repaired her own socks. Yes, darned a hole in them all by herself. I was in awe. I asked her about it and she said she had seen me do it and it didn’t look that hard and they were her favorites … There is hope. Kids learn by example.


Christopher November 26, 2009 at 12:21 am

I’m going to send you a picture of me with the awesome guitar that I got for $5 because it was broken. The guy who sold it to me was busy actually proclaiming it’s total worthlessness (even though the tuners alone were worth $30, if salvaged) and how expensive it would be for a “professional luthier” to fix. Weekend project with a little glue and clamps, & then I doubled back later on to make it cosmetically pretty again. I also fixed our washing machine (over and over, I admit–but delaying a $1000 purchase) for a full year, but fixing guitars is more fun.


thenonconsumeradvocate November 26, 2009 at 12:27 am

Please do send a photo of yourself with the guitar. I can use it for my “Fabulous Frugal Finds” feature which has been somewhat dormant of late.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


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