Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Taking care of stuff

Reading the book Three Cups of Tea, which includes description of extreme simplicity and inherent sustainability, has reminded me of something I've been thinking about for a while. Something that is at the core of sustainable living, voluntary simplicity, etc:

We don't know how to take care of stuff.
At least, I don't. In the past, I have often joked about my lack of "practical intelligence." However, the more I learn about sustainable living and read about people in remote/poor areas who use a 100th of the resources I do, I realize that this is a real problem and something I should try to do something about.
Think about it... If you knew you wouldn't be able to get another [favorite jeans, TV, car, etc] once your current one wore out, how would that change the way you took care of it? Also, how much effort would you put into trying to repair it when it broke rather than giving in to "Oh, I can just buy another one..."
Here is my plan to fix this constant turnaround of stuff:
  • Buy high-quality items to begin with.
  • Learn (and employ) basic fixing skills like reattaching buttons, patching a hole, screwing things back together.
  • Take maintenance seriously (e.g. get the oil change done on time).
  • For things that I can't fix, see if there is someone who can fix it or at least can use the parts.
  • Use things until they wear out. (I'm pretty good at this, but there is always room for improvement...)

I'd like to propose a fourth 'R' to the existing three 'Rs': Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:


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