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Learning To Fix Stuff, Part 1

Posted By Beth Terry On January 2, 2008 @ 11:09 pm In cutlery & containers,DIY,Electronics,Fixing things,kitchenware | 16 Comments

Back in August, when Fake Plastic Fish was less than two months old, and I’d only recently become aware of my plastic consumption, my sandal broke. In fact, the elastic strap had become so worn, I had a feeling it might break that very day as I left the house and packed an extra pair of flip flops just in case. Sure enough, it snapped as I was walking down the street. The old me would have automatically tossed them out and bought a new pair. But these were some of my most comfortable shoes, and I didn’t want to waste them, plastic or not, so I found a shoe repair shop [1] down the street and had them fixed in fifteen minutes.

This might seem like a very simple, common sense thing to those of you who have been trying to live frugally, simply, and greenly for longer than I, but at the time, I felt so proud I wanted to call my friends and tell them the news: Guess what! We don’t have to throw stuff out! There are people who can fix it!

Since then, I’ve had a few more opportunities to fix things instead of throwing them away. For example, for months, my computer mouse was operating eratically, refusing to move the pointer where I wanted it to. The old me would have junked it and bought a new one, but this was the new me. Determined to make it work again instead of getting a new hunk of plastic, I found an article on eHow.com called How To Clean And Fix A Mouse [2] and was all set to take the mouse apart when I remembered hearing somewhere that if the surface the mouse rolls on is too slippery, the mouse might not operate properly. I was using a bare desk without a mouse pad. So I tried slipping a piece of paper under the mouse, and sure enough, that did the trick.

Recently, the wire on my favorite cheese slicer snapped. I’ve had this things for many years, and it’s served me well. Surely I could find a replacement wire for it. This, however, turned out to be a more difficult task than I expected. I visited multiple hardware stores with my cheese slicer attempting to find the right kind of wire. They all seemed to have something called “galvanized steel,” which apparently is not rust-proof or strong enough. I’m glad I actually asked for advice instead of just buying the first wire that looked similar to the one that broke.

Finally, one hardware store salesperson recommended I check a kitchenware type of store instead. So I called Sur Le Table [3], which seems to have locations in many states, and sure enough, they carried stainless steel replacement wires for cheese slicers. Unfortunately, as you can see below, they come in a plastic zip-lock bag.

So there’s the dilemma: a small plastic bag vs. a sturdy stainless steel kitchen tool. The kitchen tool won. I do wonder if I had checked further if I could have found stainless steel wire not packaged in plastic. But I’m pretty pleased that I was able to easily “restring” my slicer on New Year’s Eve just in time for the nice cheese our friends brought to our little party.

Now here’s my current fix-it problem. A blow dryer. Some of you might be thinking that a blow dryer is not the greenest thing to have and use in the first place. And you would be right. No arguments there. But the fact is that I do use a blow dryer on my hair for a minute or two each morning, and this one just suddenly stopped working. When I turn it on, nothing happens. Nothing. (And yes, it stopped working BEFORE I took it apart to examine it!) And yes, I have tried pressing the reset button. And yes, I have also cleaned out the air vents.

So my friend Mark was nice enough to lend me his hair dryer until I get this one fixed in Hawaii in a few weeks. Why in Hawaii? Because that’s where my electrician dad is with his pro multimeter, which we will use to figure out what’s wrong with it. The trip was already planned. I visit them in Hawaii every January for my mom’s and my birthdays. (No, flying to Hawaii is not very green either, alas.) Fixing the hair dryer is a bonus father/daughter bonding experiment. I found these instructions online, which hopefully will help: HowStuffWorks.com’s How To Fix A Hair Dryer [4]. If we do figure it out, I’ll post the step-by-step process with photos.

The big question is why we don’t know how to fix things already. Why does it require all this research? And how many times have you taken an appliance to a repair place, only to be told that it’s not worth it to fix and that you should junk it and buy a new one? Everything has value and is worth fixing or repurposing in some way. But it’s not always easy to figure out how, these days. Have you all watched The Story of Stuff [5]? It think there’s a clue in that video about why this is so.

Article printed from My Plastic-free Life: http://myplasticfreelife.com

URL to article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/01/learning-to-fix-stuff/

URLs in this post:

[1] shoe repair shop: http://modelshoerenew.com/

[2] How To Clean And Fix A Mouse: http://www.ehow.com/how_113678_clean-fix-mouse.html

[3] Sur Le Table: http://www.surlatable.com

[4] HowStuffWorks.com’s How To Fix A Hair Dryer: http://home.howstuffworks.com/how-to-repair-small-appliances9.htm

[5] The Story of Stuff: http://www.storyofstuff.com

[6] Image: https://plus.google.com/+BethTerry

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