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Green Corner




An A-Z of the environment & issues

by Peter Hatswell



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Q  R   S   T   U   V

W  X  Y  Z



R starts the names of three cornerstones of green living: Repair, Reuse and Recycle

Recycling is always in the news so I will not comment further but concentrate on the one that seems almost unfashionable these days, that is Repair.


In this money driven and wasteful world, the mechanisation and ingenuity that has gone into production processes means that manual skills have become relatively more expensive and only suitable for small batches or jobs that are too difficult to automate. Buying a new product (with a guarantee perhaps) is frequently cheaper and more attractive despite the fact that the older device might need only a small repair to carry on reliably for many years. This is especially true of older items which may have been more generously designed in an effort to impress buyers with quality.


The cost to your pocket is not the only cost we should consider. Environmentally- conscious people will look at the use of raw materials and energy required to make new things compared with just a spare part or repair kit. The skills needed to repair items properly are fast disappearing and with so many manufactured goods now coming from overseas, even spares or instructions for repair can be very difficult to obtain (or understand!).


I grew up in an era of make-do and mend when consumer durables were expensive and a sizeable repair industry was available on every high street. Miniaturisation and complexity in electronics for instance has made some devices impossible to repair which means not only a complete new replacement but an often toxic and un-recyclable component to dispose of.


There are still a few companies and individuals in this area who can repair things so it is always worth getting a second opinion, looking in the local business pages or asking a friend before you rush out and buy the latest gismo! Even the most energy efficient device may take years to offset the cost to the environment of scrapping the old one.




Friends of the Earth