Items at our house often have two fates – getting chucked when they’re old and worn or getting passed on or donated when we’ve finally admitted we just aren’t using them or (on the very rare occasion) decide to upgrade. We are not wonderful in the reusing department. Tinkering with crafts has made me better at sometimes seeing the maybe potential of items, though Ben is not particularly fond of the ever-present collection of jars and miscellany that clutters the corner above our sink in hopes of eventual use. More often than not, we enjoy the clear opportunity to downsize too much to figure out a way to repurpose most items. Alas, many a good potential dusting rag has been lost to the trash.
Recently though, we have chosen to give several items a second life instead of abandoning them to the landfill or Goodwill. I think the nature of these endeavors was uniquely expensive. Certainly it costs nothing to cut an old undershirt into rags. That said, this has taught me that reusing is not necessarily inexpensive, or even the cheapest option.
First it was the oven. To upgrade the igniter so the oven would work again we paid $229.49 for parts and labor. We did not even price the cost of a new oven. I love our 1950’s double oven that fits perfectly in the cabinetry. To be able to continue to use it without the hassle of shopping around was good enough for me. Then it was some shoes. To buff and polish one pair of Ben’s dress shoes that seemed worn beyond hope, to repair a heel one of my rarely worn high heels and to resole and replace the insole of Ben’s favorite pair of brown dress shoes cost a grand total of $135.86. For two of them this was a steal. All of $100 went towards repairing the brown pair that we bought for about $50 (thanks to a sale). It was not easy to choke up that cash, but saving time trying to find another quality pair that would endure seemed worth the investment to give these well-loved shoes a second life. Finally it was my great grandmother’s old glider. Since my parents are the ones graciously paying to reupholster our upcoming nursery staple I won’t share the price. Suffice it to say, it would cost the same to buy a new one.
In fact, knowing we could buy new for about the same price, or maybe even less, for a couple of the items created a financial dilemma, at least for me. Ultimately, we decided that environmentally it made more sense to do what needed to be done to continue to use the items. It also helped that we were extending the life of quality products that were made well, or in the case of the shoes, could be upgraded into something even better. Just as importantly, in all three cases, we were able to use small local businesses with a focus on making sure their work was so great you would not have reason to come back to them. When all is said and done, we feel great about the money being spent, but trying to fight the message that replacing and upgrading is better is not easy, especially when it costs less to do so.
Have you ever paid as much or more to reuse something? How did you weigh the costs? Do you have any great reusing stories or ideas to share? (I need ideas for my collection)