The friendly neighbourhood cobbler, tailor, knife-sharpener, plumber, electrician and all other valuable roadside service providers are an endangered lot. We the conspicuous consumers are least concerned. When a household item needs to be fixed, we ought to give more than a fair chance to all these sustainable livelihoods – and ourselves – and avoid creating additional trash, a practice in which we have become amazing pros.
The mixer-grinder jar’s lid comes with a smaller removable top, which is used to add water while grinding. When we went looking for the small part to replace a broken one, we found that we had to buy the whole lid. I’m glad we decided against buying the entire lid, because back home, we found two things that could do the job. One was the lid of an empty bottle of Eno, and the other a similar lid of a small asafoetida box. So now i have an endless supply of these lids, enough to start a small-parts business, and can compete with the original parts supplier.
Our son’s watch has a well-loved and well-worn Velcro strap. Fair wear and tear took the zing off the Velcro, and out we went, looking for a spare strap. None of the showy, brightly lit welcoming, air-conditioned showrooms had one to spare. Back home, my husband gave the strap a good wash, removed the old Velcro, and went down to the tailor at the gate. That hard-working gentleman securely stitched on to the strap a new piece of black Velcro, and the watch is as good as new. It cost us a whopping Rs 20 for the spare part and the labour.
The bathroom mirror disintegrated and fell off the wall mounting in parts. The flat piece of mirror first came undone from the wooden base, and gently settled on top of the wash basin. The glass strips on three sides then detached one after another, and rested directly below. Instead of having to stare at the wooden base where my reflection ought to have been, off came this wooden base, awaiting disposal. We put off the errand of buying a new mirror to the weekend. For a week my husband managed to shave either from memory, or from habit, or both. Then I decided that the bottle of synthetic resin adhesive must help, and all the parts of the mirror submitted meekly to my commands as they allowed themselves to be fixed on to the base again and then be pressurised to stay on, overnight. Since the next morning, the mirror was back on the wall, ready and waiting to take on the worst of Snow White’s rivals. And yes, I might launch a mirror-fixing service too.
The tubelight fixture looked old. The tube too. Bracing ourselves for additional expenditure in buying a new set and getting it fixed by the electrician, we found out that end fittings costing Rs 20 a pair would suffice. We bought the end fittings, and then it was an endless wait for the electrician to turn up. Several days later, an investigation revealed that fixing those end fittings amounted to child’s play, and so we DIO – did it ourselves. Then we dutifully thanked the electrician silently – it was because he didn’t turn up that we had the chance to learn and DIO.
Next time you are tempted to throw away and buy new, pause. Tell yourself that there has to be a better way than the use and throw path. Yes, you can let the friendly (sometimes pricey) neighbourhood service providers earn an honest job’s wage, but certainly try to DIY; it’s not rocket science.
Remember the popular tagline of a fast-acting glue? Well, when we DIO, we can even fix broken hearts.