You're probably familiar with the maxim "reduce, reuse, and recycle," adopted across green-loving households everywhere as people commit to cutting down on their waste. It's an easy and simple way to remember that you should try to reduce the amount of potential waste brought into the house, reuse materials when you're done with them, and then recycle them when you cannot possibly come up with other uses. Thus, you might pick up a jar of peanut butter at the store because you want peanut butter and you can't avoid packaging because it has to come in something, but you can reuse that jar in a huge number of ways (including for more peanut butter, if your grocery store grinds it on-site), and then finally recycle it in the end.
But there's a fourth, and equally important, R, and it's one people tend to leave out: repair.
Repairing items is the surest way to keep them in use, and to make sure they don't end up in the waste stream. Often, repairs are very cost-effective, and definitely less expensive and time-consuming than buying a new item and disposing of the old. The folks at Treehugger have taken a "repair resolution" for 2014, and they're inviting you to join them. They're encouraging people to repair the things they can, with the help of tools like this amazingly detailed online guide for repairing almost everything you can imagine.
Can't repair something yourself because you don't have the skills, time, or patience? Hire a professional to do it, and contribute to job creation in your local community. Handymen, for example, can handle a wide range of household repairs, and by having them address common household problems, you'll boost the local economy, save money, reward people for developing and cultivating skills, and create a market for skilled labor focused on repairing. The larger the community market for artisans and other skills people who can repair objects rather than just selling or making new ones, the more likely you are to create a culture of repairing and reusing, rather than tossing, items that break down.
Have some worn-out shoes? You need a cobbler, not a trash can. Did your iPhone turn into a brick over the holiday? Hit up an electronics specialist. Is that leaning bookcase finally so perilous that you're afraid to put anything on it? Call up a San Diego carpenter. Is your toaster oven giving up the ghost? There's a solution at your fingertips...and it doesn't involve buying a new one and heaving the old one over the fence at the dump. Holey drywall? We have a fix for that.
Repairing objects saves money, and it helps the environment. You're not just keeping things out of the waste stream, you're also reducing the demand for new materials, which means that less exploitation of natural resources happens on your account. And that's good news for everyone.
Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.