<a href="http://www.gmagazine.com.au/blogs/julie#">Green challenges</a>

Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Learning how to avoid planned obsolescence

Man repairing a bike

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In my last post I talked about places where we could satisfy our need for new things by choosing things that are “new to us” instead. There are plenty of good sources for secondhand goods out there.

But as we move on through our challenge, it might be worth revisiting the idea that we must have new things all the time. One of our previous challenges was to Refill, Reuse and Repair - the skills you learned during that challenge will come in handy now.

A lot of people complain these days about ‘planned obsolesence’, where we suspect manufacturers of deliberately making things that will break and wear out so we have to buy new ones. It’s definitely a problem. But if you’re a savvy shopper you can find things that will be easy to maintain and reuse for many years.

To do this, you need to learn a few new tricks. You’ll want to be keeping an eye on Choice Magazine and other consumer reports to check which brands are known for being cheap to repair and easy to maintain. You’ll also want to learn how to mend things: basic sewing skills will be enough to keep your clothes going for longer, and basic home repair skills will help you keep your household goods in order. There’s a lot of information online about how to repair things, but you can also do short TAFE courses on many of them too.

As for reusing, I’m so glad every time I can add a new reuseable item to my repertoire. At the moment my coffee cup, my water bottle and a lot of my cleaning cloths are reuseable. I’ve switched to hankies from tissues, and I’ve recently started using lunch wraps to replace cling wrap on the days when Tupperware just isn’t going to do. I won’t have to buy new disposable versions of these for many years to come, because I’m already sorted out for those needs.

It’s not like shopping for tissues and replacing appliances is all that much fun. I’m glad to put in the effort to find reuseable, repairable items in the first place if it means I have fewer chores to do for years in the future. That might make me a lazy environmentalist, but it sure is more fun to spend a Saturday morning sleeping in, drinking coffee and reading the news than it is getting up early and rushing to the shops. What do you reckon?