As a society, it seems that we’ve forgotten how to fix things. I’m a pretty hands-on person (just ask anyone who’s seen me take a sledge hammer to a wall) but sometimes when an item I have breaks, my first thought is “Ugh, I need to get a new one.” Which of course implies that I need to throw the old one out.

But much of the time that just isn’t true.

Many items can be fixed, and a lot of the time you can fix them easily yourself. The problem is that because so many things are inexpensive due to the cheap labor used to produce them, going to the trouble of fixing them seems expensive when compared with just going out and buying a new one.

But it’s really not, if you think of it in more global terms. Think about all the oil used to create the item itself, to bring it to you from thousands of miles away, to heat the buildings used to create, store and sell it, to drive to the store to buy a new one, and to haul the old item away. And that’s just one aspect of the cost of making something.

Then there’s the intimidation factor. Is your toilet leaking? Oh no, we need a new one. Call in the professional. When really it’s just a problem with a valve that you can fix yourself. It’s actually FUN to try to figure out how things work and then how to fix them, especially when the answers are often available at the click of a mouse. Learning to fix things builds your confidence and reduces the intimidation factor.

So the next time you get a hole in your jeans, or a piece of plastic breaks off something, consider trying to repair it yourself first. You can patch jeans, and you can glue plastic together. Even if the items can’t be fixed, sometimes you can repurpose them into something else. (Jeans become shorts and scrap material, a plastic doohickey becomes a Christmas tree ornament or a craft supply for your child.) Even if you end up breaking down and buying a new one anyway, you’ll have learned something in the process.