wearing stuff out

This is worn out

When was the last time you threw a consumer item away in the bin, or took an item to the dump that was well and truly worn out? I mean totally beyond repair, or “proper mashed up” as the yewt of today might say? Like the equivalent of my lovely picture of the washing up sponge up there?

I am guessing if you are honest there are plenty of items you’ve replaced in the last year alone that have been eminently fixable, but have used the excuse of a minor piece of damage or functionary imperfection to ditch it and upgrade to a newer, more flashier version. Now, I’m not dead against that sort of thing, if the newer model promises greater energy efficiency for example (see: performance of fridge freezers 20 years ago* compared to now), but upgrading your 3 year old 40 inch HDTV for a 50 inch 4K HDTV with internet connection does seem a little pointless (in my humble opinion of course!). This sort of behaviour will also result in a very small chance of reaching early financial independence, which is what we are all about here, so this mindset needs to be reversed if you still think like that.

Even if you are reading this and thinking “well that isn’t me” there are clearly plenty of people out there who are….errrr… “me”. However if we’re honest we know we’ve all been seduced by the advertising and marketing and upgraded before we really needed to, or alternatively just have been plain lazy and chucked something that could have been repaired.
Conversely, there are plenty of people out there who are going to great lengths to make not only their consumer goods but pretty much everything else last as long as possible by re-using, fixing, recycling, and upcycling such as Zoe at Eco Thrifty Living and Jen at My Make Do and Mend Year. Other key items to be doing this with are clothes and furniture, with a little time and skill you can create new fashionable looking stuff out of old gear. Now I have to admit I’m not exactly a clothes aficionado but I am interested in getting involved with banging about and upcycling some old furniture into something fancy – the shabby chic style tends to lend itself very well to this approach. In terms of consumer goods, I have recently fixed my phone screen myself (OK… I had to buy the part but installed it myself rather than sending it off) and patched up many a kitchen utensil rather than sending them to the landfill. And that’s a whole other article in itself: Avoid buying the cheapest goods in the first place as you end up paying twice or more when they break!
To summarise the benefits of wearing stuff out, fixing and upcycling:
  • Reduce expenses
  • Reach FI faster
  • Earth is happier
  • Learn new skills
That’s some pretty big plus points in my book! So my challenge to you is this:
Next time something breaks, no matter how hard you think it might be to fix yourself, get on the internet and learn how to fix it. Just give it a go!
We live in a world where the the answer to pretty much anything is at your fingertips, which naturally includes how to fix practically everything you own right now (Hint if you really need one: google and youtube).
As a secondary challenge, more of a fun game really, see how long you can make consumable items such as kitchen items and bathroom products etc last. There are some resources below for some more ideas on this. And don’t chuck those sponges away until they cannot be used no more! 🙂
You may have lived before in blissful ignorance but now you have no excuses.
All the best.

*I found that link from here, which is also worth a read if you have time
Resources to reduce consumables:
Resources on recycling:
It should go without saying but if you do chuck stuff away, especially those electronic items and gadgets, please recycle them properly. The article from the recycle now website has some great info on what your old iPhone and X-Box can be made into if properly recycled

Wearing Stuff Out update 1/6/2014

Razors: I’ve just realised that I haven’t changed the head of my Razor for around 3 months. I only shave about once a week, I happen to like the stubble / short beard look just as much as clean shaven so just oscillate* between the two. Anyway so I reckon that is about 12-15 shaves at least. I used to replace these every month or so but I have found that after an initial dip in performance (i.e. sharpness of blades) it has levelled off dramatically and is still well usable after all this time. I will monitor and see how long I can go before I start ripping my face to bits 🙂

Guys out there… Any other frugal shaving tips? I am guessing most use an electric shaver but I have a huge dislike for those.

*For sciencey/electronics people or anyone into music synthesizers I guess if you plotted “Level of beardyness” on the y-axis against time on the x-axis it would look like the classic “Saw tooth wave” 🙂

Razors: Update 21/6/2014 – Some comments below from Pez and DivHut have enlightened me to the world of Wet Shaving. I always thought this was the same as using shaving foam and multi-blade cartridge razors but apparently I am pleasantly way of the mark. As DivHut points out you can buy a double edged safety razor for around £20 and 100 blades on eBay for $9.99, or £5.33 over here, plus use shaving soap/cream instead of cans of foam/gel. I am off to order me some now! This newly discovered (for me) way of shaving fulfils the highly coveted trinity of being frugal, better for the environment (less waste, less plastic, easily recyclable blades, no cans of foam) and being pretty darn bad-ass. I may do a follow up post when everything arrives on how I get on 🙂

In the meantime this post on Zen Habits should fill you in on all you need to know if you are as in the dark as I was a few hours ago about “Real Wet Shaving”

Toothbrushes: Again I’ve had my current toothbrush for what must be a record amount of time for me. I can’t quite remember exactly when I changed it but it must be coming up to 4 months. The recommended replacement time is every 3 months so I am only 1 month over but previously I reckon I would change it every 2-3 months. The key to making your toothbrush last longer is the pressure applied when brushing. If you apply loads of pressure you will quickly get the splayed out bristle effect which renders the brush less effective and will have to replace it soon, the technique I have been using is to imagine my arm is an electric toothbrush and is making lot’s of small but very fast rotations or circles (you won’t, of course, reverse the direction of the rotations like the electric toothbrush might, unless you have digital robotic levels of coordination, you just keep going in the same direction and maybe reverse it every ten seconds or so if you really want to). You will feel that only a small amount of pressure needs to be applied to get a decent brushing with this technique, thus ensuring a longer life for your ‘brush. I reckon I will get up to the 6 month mark with this technique but again I will let you know how it goes 🙂