For decades, a disposable culture has permeated every part of our society, leading to environmental degradation, waste, and inefficiency. If your family is locked in a throwaway lifestyle, there’s no better time to make a fresh start. Here are a few trends that are helping people around the country save money, live better, and protect the planet.
1. Repair Shops
Disposable culture caused the near-extinction dozens of repair trades like tailoring, cobbling, and small appliance repair; but in environmentally conscious regions, these professions are making a comeback, mending tennis shoes and t-shirts as well as high-end luxury items. For a few bucks and 20 minutes of their time, not only are people saving something that would have been thrown away, but keeping someone local employed as well. Repair swaps are also popping up all over the country, where once a week or month groups get together to help each other repair their items for free. Check your local living section of your newspaper, the classifieds, and Craigslist to find repair shops or repair swaps in your area.
2. Local Trade and Resale
Craigslist is nothing new, and buy-local campaigns have been around for years—but the recent trend is in specialty sites like Craigslist, but only for a state or region, and only for a certain type of good or service. Sites for electronics, baby goods, home furnishings, produce, crafts, and services that are tailored for a specific region are great because they know what issues are affecting local communities, and are better equipped to prevent scams and spamming. It’s a great marriage of the convenience and efficiency of the Internet, with the security and personality of a local market. Next time you think about throwing something away or purchasing something new, consider seeking out locals who might be willing to trade, sell, or buy.
3. E-waste Recycling and Repair
While it’s been almost impossible to reuse or resell broken or obsolete electronics in the past, many manufacturers are seeing the benefits of selling a more lasting, modular product. More and more companies are licensing technicians and selling “verified” parts to ensure quality repairs, so you can have a more certain, secure experience when you take your computer in for a diagnostic. The trend in PCs and tablet computers is upgrade-ability and repair-ability. Starting in 2013, you’ll be easily able to add memory or fix broken screens or parts on more electronics.
4. Cell Phones
Everyone knows somebody who has a drawer full of used cell phones, now 10 years old and useless. Cell phones that are 3-4 years old are still viable and highly sought after as many people can’t afford the newest $500 dollar phone, so take advantage of that and resell your old cell phone for a couple bucks. You can use established sites like eBay, USell.com, Gazelle, or ReCellular, and some malls in the United States and Europe now have vending-esque machines that can tell you how much your cell phone is worth and purchase it right then and there. If your cell isn’t worth anything, they give you the option to donate or recycle it on the spot.
Perhaps one of the biggest culprits to the throwaway nature of our society is the fashion industry. Unfortunately they aren’t changing much other than the niche companies and products that encourage reusability. Rather, in line with the first point, people are not only taking their old clothes to be repaired, but they’re repurposing old articles of clothing into something fashionable. Thrift stores are becoming more socially acceptable and the norm as people use them to cheaply purchase material to create something they want. So invest in a sewing machine and start mending and creating!
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Aimee Watts is a staff writer for Mobile Moo. She has spent ten years telecommuting full-time, and loves spreading tips and advice for fellow work-at-home parents. She loves gadgets, new ideas, and skiing with her two favorite people: her husband and teenage son. They live in Evergreen, Colorado.