Today is the second in the Mend It May mini series exploring “Why Mend?” (you can find the first one here) and today it’s all about landfill…!
It’s a bit of no-brainer really, but one of the most important reasons for mending things is to keep them out of landfill.
Every year, in the UK we send about 350,000 tonnes of clothes (worth about £140 million) to landfill, and we generate over 1.5 million tonnes of e-waste (electronic waste) a year, which equates to about 20kg each *shocked face emoticon*.
Admittedly not all of these garments and products would have had a repairable problem, but I’m willing to bet that a significant majority of them would have been fixable and could have been kept in use with a simple mend or two.
So why does it matter?
I think the general consensus is that landfill is not a great thing. The gases that are produced by the decomposing matter, as well as the materials that leach into the ground and the waterways, can all have deleterious effects on health of the people living nearby, as well as the impact they have on the health of the wider planet. Add to that the fact that it is estimated that we will run out of landfill space here in the UK by 2018, and it starts to become clear just how important it is that we reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ going to landfill.
And this is where repair and mending comes in.
By mending our broken things, we are keeping them in use for longer and reducing the amount going to landfill. I’ve been trying to find out if there any statistics that estimate what proportion of the things in landfill could have been repaired, but have drawn a blank. I’m guessing it is probably higher than we would like to think.
Recycling our clothes, and the components of our e-waste is great, and absolutely should be done when they are at the end of their life, but by mending something, we can extend that life quite considerably, often with some pretty simple fixes. I’ve patched both pairs of my jeans two or three times now over the last year, and hubby has managed to keep our hard working washing machine going by replacing some brushes for the grand cost of about £3!
I completely understand that sometimes things just don’t seem worth repairing. When consumer goods are cheaper than they have ever been, and skill levels for repair probably at their lowest, it can seem too daunting and too expensive to even attempt to mend things. Often the easiest (and sometimes the cheapest) option, is to bin it and buy a new one.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to take on a repair as an act of defiance, a protest if you like, against our throwaway culture.
We can choose to repair and learn new skills as we go along (see the Mend It May-Resources post for some good places to start). And if it really feels too hard, there are community repair initiatives like Repair Cafes springing up all over the UK (and in fact the world), where we can take our broken things and get help mending them. I’ll be discussing all of these issues in future posts during Mend It May-stay tuned..!
There really is very little excuse for broken things ending up in landfill, especially if a simple fix is all that is needed. There is help out there if you don’t feel able to tackle it yourself, or if you can’t access that help, then sometimes things can be donated, or at the very least recycled.
I’m hoping to be able to do some kind of informal Mend It May audit at the end of the month, and get an estimate of how many things we have collectively managed to mend, and possibly keep out of landfill. So if you’re joining in and mending this May, do keep a note of what you’ve mended!
If you are looking for support, motivation and help with your mending, do check out the Mend It May Facebook group-it really is becoming a wonderful community.
If you are looking for Repair events near you, then take a look at the Mend It May What’s On Guide.
And lastly, don’t forget to show your support for all things mending by taking the Mend It May pledge!