Reduce, reuse, repair…easy or not?

ImageThis blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post is about tackling the 5Rs – reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, refuse. For more info about parenting see my book Homemade Kids, or for my website click here.

No need to feel sorry for me – and the pic is of Nell dressed up as Jessie J by reusing sticky beads that fell off the kitchen lamp shade – but I’ve had a cold over the past few days. For some reason feeling unwell has coincided with a strong desire to repair everything that’s broken in the house.

The opposite of nesting perhaps?

Mending can be expensive, but some things feel worth spending money (or taking time to deal with) to have them back in working order. Especially tried and tested favourite things, and my kids slightly raggedy, but not yet outgrown clothes.

Inspiring repair to a rake seen at Tetepare, in Solomon Islands. I want to teach my kids to mend stuff as well as this.

10 attempts at repair and reuse over the past few days

  1. REPAIR My 10 year old Dubarry riding/welly boots that would cost £300 to replace. I’m not stupid, there are lots of cheaper look-a-likes on the net, but discovered Dubarry could repair these boots for a total of £60 (including postage two-ways). So they’re mended and I avoided the need to purchase another pair of £100 plus riding boots (in my defence – teaching riding is one of my jobs!).
  2. REPAIR The Windsor chair I found in a skip back in the 1980s suffered a little break. It’s not mendable with glue. Luckily there’s Dominic at Bennet and Brown nearby who specialises in mending chairs. He reckoned this would be £25. I’m very forgiving of the cost as this is the perfect chair for sharing with the dog – we sit together by the window in the morning (me with coffee) while everyone else in the house wakes up.
  3. REUSE Two tetra-pak juice cartons were washed out and turned into purses. Cost: £0. They will make nice gifts for someone…
  4. REPAIR My carboot sale fake Uggs, found by Nell, have detached from their sole. Copydex costs £4.55 and not only repaired them, but also repaired…
  5. REPAIR The Ikea cultery drawer divider that I found in the street – presumably because it was warped and so all the cutlery swarms under the dividers and muddles up. With some bits of dowling/wood and the copydex I think I’ve sorted it out.
  6. REPAIR I met my husband, Pete, in 1643. That’s his joke, but I made a vast cushion for him one Christmas. Unfortunately when the dog was a puppy he attacked it. This week I finally mended the cushion and put it back on the chair it belongs to. Cost £0 as there were plenty of red scraps in the bit bag.
  7. REPAIR Nell’s school trousers had to be patched. Technically the school disproves of this practice, but cross-fingers they (and her friends) won’t notice a minor uniform transgression.
  8. REPAIR Two pairs of Lola’s school tights needed darns.
  9. REPAIR One coat, one hand towel and a fleece all needed hooks to make it easier to hang them up after use.
  10. REUSE Lots of Nell’s toys were put in the attic around Christmas time because we had guests. Two months on Nell wants her doll’s house (bought in a secondhand shop three years ago) back for a giant play session. Hiding toys is the best win-win; they’re out of the way (so easy to pass on or pack up) or if they are requested get another big burst of use.

Over to you
Out of this list, what would you have recommended me to bin (or compost, whatever) rather than repair? Or better still, what things do you always repair, and what criteria do you use to know something has to go into the recycling bin?

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