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The Forum > Article Comments > A stitch in time ... > Comments

A stitch in time ... : Comments

By Valerie Yule, published 25/6/2009

The return of thrift: we need to change back to a society of menders, repairers and reusers.

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If spare parts resellers and manufacturers selling spare parts were not so greedy, and repairers were not so greedy, then it would be more viable to retain and repair. If one has an old product that has already broken down somehow, repair costs can run up to half or even the full replacement cost, occasionally higher than replacement cost. You could be a fool and spend excessivley to have it fixed, but then you would be stuck with an old product with everything else likely to break down soon except what was fixed today.

We also keep the racket going along by having annual MOT or rego inspections for rego renewal, many motorists get raped at the garage by being overserviced by greedy servicemen. A friend had this problem and only when they changed mechanic, found out they were being ripped off.
Posted by Inner-Sydney based transsexual, indigent outcast progeny of merchant family, Thursday, 25 June 2009 10:42:52 AM
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In 1992 I started a Eco Fashion Cottage Craft Enterprise based in the Murray Darling Basin region. I repaired garments, designed and made Hats, Bags, Clothing
from reclaimed materials. I was a ‘Greenie’ literally laughed out of town!

My dream shattered recovering from a nervous breakdown I closed down my little shop went to Maleny (Qld). It is there someone advised me to book a stall at Maleny Folk Festival. It was a huge success.
From then on it became a yearly event selling at Woodford Folk Festival, Womadelaide, National Folk Festival (Canberra), Port Fairy Folk Festival.

I diverted my talent entirely to Hat making using recycled/reclaimed materials. I worked my fingers to the bone between festivals.

Today in 2009, about twenty thousand hats later, working eighty hours per week from home in my backyard Railway Carriage Workshop near Mildura my business related expenses have increased from $3000 per year in 1992 to $30,000 per year in 2009. My expenses to sell at Folk Festivals run into thousands of dollars for each festival market.

It has been a passionate struggle. Now at 59, still making hats, my stockpile of hats is growing and turning into a storage problem. I still struggle covering costs, still do all the work myself. With only $2000 in Super Fund the future looks grim.

Where are all those ‘green movement’ devotees supporting my business? I am well known and much talked about. Business advisors tell me I have to design and outsource my product overseas which I refuse to do because I walk my talk. My hats are posted on my website, listed on several ‘green’ directories.

I am convinced that the masses still prefer to buy an eco-ethical garments made by big fashion labels made in China.

There are still a few more thousand hats in my head and I have enough materials to last me for several more lives. I enjoy creating my own designs and there is no need for me to swallow Prozac or watch TV
Posted by Eco Hatter, Thursday, 25 June 2009 5:37:28 PM
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A RETURN to thrift? Oh, I've missed something: From childhood, I've been mending, repairing and reusing. I thought it was the right way to live. Repeatedly scorned by others for getting my shoes repaired and wearing them for years. Mocked for wanting to drive my car until it 'dies'. This disposable mentality which permeates everything is why we are in trouble in the first place, environment, health, everything! Cars are not newpapers, they cost a lot more than that. Mine is 14yrs old. Bought it new, so as not to purchase someone else's problems. Small, not locally made, but it was cheap and still is very cheap to run. I only use it when absolutely necessary. Clothes: I bought most of mine 20-30 years ago. They have been mended and altered to suit the changing trends. Sometimes I wear something to an occasion, and get Oooh! Aaah! Where did you get that? I smile and say: bought it from a dept store 25yrs ago. Hey, it's older than you! The person blushes. Now that's amusing. My home is 1958 vintage, not renovated at all since built. It has been maintained with minor restorations from time to time. The window sashes are due to be replaced, again. The ho-hum of the supplier is a bit disappointing. He mumbles about old timber windows, and how aluminium ones would work better. But I admonish him, saying these are better. They open easily, because I look after them.
So, they now call giving something a second life 'recycling'. And sensible natural gardening is now called 'organic'. Those words were not around when I was a child. But the practices are as old as mankind. Recently, a flute was found, 65,000(?)years old, made from a vulture's bone. We should be mindful: 'Waste not, want not.'
Sadly, the lack of comments/interest in this article really says it all. More people should think about it. Because it has always made sense. In the recent few decades we have lost our direction on this one.
Posted by LadyAussieAlone, Friday, 26 June 2009 4:10:56 PM
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Eco Hatter & LadyAussieAlone

I really appreciate both your posts, no doubt there are many in Aged Care Homes who could teach us a thing or two about thrift.

I too scavenge the op-shops for clothes and buy quality shoes which I keep repaired for years. I must admit that part of this is a hangover from my uni days, when I just preferred to dress a little differently, now it is a practical and enjoyable way to shop.

I loathe the sameness of chain stores almost as much as the throw-away consumerism that is part of their 'philosophy'.

And what is not to like about home grown veggies?

In my more positive moods, I think the future belongs to the artisan, the small business, those who create for longevity rather than fast turnover.

Then I see the absurd carry on over Ute-Gate and realise that our leaders do not have a clue.
Posted by Fractelle, Friday, 26 June 2009 6:08:17 PM
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If there were the same regulations regarding workplace conditions, health and safety and child labour applying to products made overseas as there are for locally produced goods there would be a greater incentive to recycle, repair etc. As things stand it is way too cheap to keep buying more rubbish.
Posted by sajo, Friday, 26 June 2009 8:26:36 PM
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To reduce the enormous amount of waste, one needs to understand why the waste is necessary to maintain a viable economy. Then the removal of that flaw from the system will be seen as beneficial.
The reason we have periodical severe unemployment is that the present capitalist taxation allocation maximises production. Material and energy costs are kept to the minimum for corporations as well as a low tax on profits (this is to give a competitive advantage, which also maximises the ability to produce). Thus the burden of raising taxes falls more on wages and salaries. Worst of all is the use of the GST, but those taxes in turn reduce purchasing power, which results in unemployment, unless the economy is perpetually growing. There are other factors like the way money is created.
The reason to stop our wasteful way is that there’s strong evidence that the damage to the environment would be to such an extent that it could severely endanger our children, but the general feeling for governments is that unemployment, now, is worst still. Unfortunately they forecast long period of unemployment and promote more wasteful consumption, which is reducing our natural assets and warming the planet.
Therefore it’s necessary to reallocate what is to be taxed. We can fix our dilemma if the use of labour is increased by decreasing and eventually eliminating all taxes and charges on the use of labour and greenhouse gases can be reduced by increasing their taxes. These measures can be implemented without a revolution or any hardship; on the contrary, they will improve our life.
The increased cost of energy and material with a decreased cost of labour, which could be halved, would change the way we live from unsustainable to a sustainable life style. We will have less new products of more durable quality, cheaper repairs.
I think your contribution Valerie, is valuable and consistent. I was pleased with a similar approach you made on Ockham Razor of last year, which I made comments to you at the time
Posted by Tena, Friday, 26 June 2009 10:06:41 PM
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