I Choose to Not Inhabit a Throwaway World

by Katy on November 12, 2017 · 25 comments

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

mending boots

We live in a throwaway world. It doesn’t help that it’s often cheaper to replace an item than it is to repair it, and the artisans who formerly had those specific skill to repair household items are a dying breed. And for most people, the temporary thrill of a shiny new thing wins over the excitement of a cleverly repaired item.

No one ever compliments you on a invisible repair like they would on its brand new counterpart.

“Wow, awesome shoes that I’ve already seen hundreds of times! Are they recently repaired?”

Yeah . . . that doesn’t happen.

I choose not to inhabit a throw away world. I repair and mend, even when the repair only saves me a couple of bucks. I also try not to bring unrepairable stuff into my home. (Plastic, particle board furniture and cheap electronics come to mind.)

The above picture is the wool lining of my beloved Keen boots. I bought them on clearance in 2008 for $37.50 and have worn them approximately seventy–bajilliontimes since then. I recently shelled out $30 to have a cobbler replace the zipper, and yesterday I took a needle and thread to the wool lining to restitch a seam.

Good as new? No, they don’t look new, but that’s okay with me. They’re in good repair, incredibly comfortable and dare I say it? Pretty cool looking.

The instinct to replace rather than repair is a recent phenomenon. Whether it was the umbrella repairman or a handy wife who turned a collar, the mindset to repair is missing for many Americans. Our resourceful grandparents would not have have filled their trash cans with easily repairable items.

It’s expensive, it creates a culture of wastefulness and I choose not to live that way.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela @ Tread Lightly, Retire Early November 12, 2017 at 10:24 am

I actually am the person who asks that question 😉 I brag to everyone when I have a great repair story like that!


Carolyn Arnett November 12, 2017 at 10:48 am

I’m finally following in my fathers footsteps. Just bought a shoe last for $20 at the antique shop and heel guards from Amazon to do my own shoe repair. I am hard on all my shoe and boot heels and the guards keep me from needing a whole new heel. My dad always fixed our shoe heel and soles himself out of neccesity.

And following my mom and both grandmothers I am an accomplished sewing repair person either by machine or by hand.


Joyce November 12, 2017 at 11:06 am

Amen, sister! Stuff that can be repaired and is repaired when needed, is ultimately less expensive, even if it costs more to begin with. I wish more people, especially the young would think about what all the glitz and glamour really cost. Landfill space is not cheap


Linda November 12, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Well said! I’m a repairer too. Good for the landfill & my pocketbook.


Karen November 12, 2017 at 2:18 pm

I have been known to turn a collar!


Marcia November 12, 2017 at 9:29 pm

I turned a collar on a jacket my husband loved and when he wore the second side out, I put a denim collar on the jacket so he could spend a few more years wearing it. It’s probably still hanging in some closet somewhere in the house. He has newer jackets now and probably forgot where he put it.


Leah November 12, 2017 at 3:18 pm

My grandmother could never understand why my mum didn’t darn our holey socks!!
I got a laptop screen repaired, which cost half the price of getting a new one. The repair man looked at me strangely when I said, yes, I want to repair not replace. But it will now last me another few years and keep another piece of electronics out of landfill.
My next project, getting my sheepskin slippers re-soled, have already had 10 years out of them (at least) and hope to get many more with new soles.


Rb November 12, 2017 at 5:34 pm

A good leather repair person and small appliance repair guy are worth their weight in gold. A cobbler is too. And if u cant sew or choose not to a seamstress is a good friend also.

Last year i had my 10 yearold leather tote bag patched. Bag was $150 when purchased (not by me) would have been $300 now to replace. Repair was $18.

Just had the cord replaced on my hair clippers for $15. We get blades sharpened frequently also.


Lynn D. November 12, 2017 at 5:50 pm

The Japanese make repairing clothing and pottery into an art form. Google Japanese invisible mending and kintsugi for examples. I love to repair clothing with simple embroidery and I have used sugru instead of gold to artistically and visibly repair pots. I never, however, mend socks. It seems like only one wash later you have another spot to repair next to the original hole. Perhaps I’m not doing it right.


Sandra November 13, 2017 at 4:53 am

Working for a podiatrist, I heard him say that poorly mended socks caused a lot of foot problems.


WilliamB November 13, 2017 at 10:40 am

Sandra – can you tell us which or how? It seems a bit crazy on the face of it but I’m willing to be shown wrong. (And publicly, too!)


A. Marie November 13, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Katy’s sock repairs could qualify as an art form (she’s shown us photos on earlier posts). Somehow, even with the photos, I don’t seem to have her knack for it. But all our holey socks are either converted into dust rags or donated to the local thrift chain that accepts textiles for recycling as well as resale.

Re: Marcia’s comment about her DH’s jackets: Because my DH needs periodic reminders about what he actually owns, I made a coat closet review part of my major decluttering project this weekend (more about this on the next FFT). Both he and I were astonished at what I pulled out. We donated one of his to the thrift chain for textile recycling and two more for resale, and he and I both probably still have enough coats to see us through from now till nursing home. (I didn’t pay retail for anything except a couple of Carhartts, either–and even the Carhartts came from a local going-out-of-business sale.)


kathleen November 12, 2017 at 6:25 pm

My parents’ always said to save up for what you wanted, pay cash for the best quality you can afford, and take care of it to make it last.

I’m still patting myself on the back for successfully replacing my Kindle’s broken screen myself. Thank you, YouTube videos!


Mrs Stookey November 12, 2017 at 9:50 pm

I had a vacuum that was given to me that was given to my neighbor that was given to him so that vacuum was reused by 3 people going back 8 yrs, I repaired it until It could not be repaired and then I placed it out in front of the complex dumpster and it was carted off by a young couple that said they would tinker with it.
I have a friend that mends my clothes and many others in our community she mends for too.
I maintain a healthy weight so that I don’t need to buy clothes for bigger size or smaller size.
My husband and I maintain warrenties so that we get most items covered under repairs.
We eat leftovers and use up items in our pantry/fridge/freezer before stocking up.
Our shopping for food is this we shop to stock not shop to make specific meals.


Bee November 13, 2017 at 3:58 am

Thank you for being a constant source of inspiration, Katy and Friends.


michelle November 13, 2017 at 4:53 am

I fall somewhere between a thrifty repairer and a consumer . I found a fantastic deal on winter boots . $200 boots marked down to $5! . so i bought 2 pairs . noooo but i felt at that price i would not need to buy boots again for ages. I also scored a new winter coat worth $350 for $10 .


Linda November 13, 2017 at 5:36 am

Wow! Good deals! I would have bought 2 pairs also. Were those items at a thrift shop or just on store clearance? (I want to shop where you shop!!!)


michelle November 15, 2017 at 5:06 am

there is a store called Penningtons in my city that once a year has a huge clearance sale . and it happens to fall on the weekend of my birthday . so i get a gift card for there . and iget all my yearly stuff !


K D November 13, 2017 at 5:37 am

I agree but do not always have success in convincing important people in my life to embrace those beliefs. I try not to eat out at places that use disposables. I try to avoid food waste. I try to find new homes for items I no longer want. I try to not consume much and to keep the items I have in good repair. My car is 15 years old, my laundry basket and hamper were purchased at Caldor (which closed in the 1990s). Most of my kitchen stuff is from the 1980s. No you do not have to buy top of the line to have items that last, just don’t buy junk, buy quality.


Susie's Daughter November 13, 2017 at 5:43 am

Oh Caldor!!! I used to love to go there with my Nana.


karen November 13, 2017 at 7:23 am

When my daughter was in college and moving to an apt. with several girls she was given the task of furnishing the kitchen. I said not to worry we will go to yard sales and buy things for pennies on the dollar. And we did.

But I started looking at what we bought and thought this stuff is better than what I have in my kitchen, So I started going to yard sales and replacing things in my kitchen. When I found something better I would buy it and take my thing to the thrift shop. Years later my kitchen things are all updated.


tia November 13, 2017 at 6:18 am

I don’t do this. I buy a new pair of boots in late summer and a new pair of sandals in early spring. I always find a great sale price and donate my old footware. I do have an old pair of croc knock off flip flops I’ve had for years. They are great for shower shoes at campgrounds or just to muck about in.


Roberta November 13, 2017 at 6:52 am

A few years ago I turned the collar of a shirt. Every time my husband wears it and I wash it, I get a thrill that that shirt is still being worn!


janine November 13, 2017 at 7:43 am

I try but am not always successful.
-I just realized that we bought our deep freezer at Montgomery Wards – and not at the going out of business sale either. It must be 30 years old and still going.
-Most of my shoes have seen several seasons.
-If I took time to mend, my wardrobe would be much larger. Procrastination is not a good habit, but when I do take time to fix something up I feel the way Roberta does when she turned the collar of a shirt. (That is truly a great skill!)


Crunchycon November 16, 2017 at 7:43 am

Ten million likes for this post. Thank you for reposting.


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