Repair For Reprieve And Rescue – Day 13 of Low Carbon Living

Stitching that reattached zip straps to black bag

Source: Gill King, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Day 13 of 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living involved me deciding to repair rather than replace.

The situation

One of my favorite bags is the one I use for going out to more formal events that are crowded where I might need to take some bigger items like a drink bottle or to stow a light cardigan…and I want to keep my hands free and my back balanced.

I picked it up at an op shop a few years ago. It’s almost identical to one that someone else I know has – except mine is vinyl and cost $12 and hers is leather and cost a *lot* more. It’s one of those teardrop bags with a strap that unzips to become shoulder straps so you can wear it as a backpack.

At its last outing, I arrived and put it on…and it swung to one side: the stitching holding the strap in had come undone.

Dilemma! Should I repair it, knowing that the repair would probably cost me more than what I paid for the bag…or should I throw it out and buy me a new one?

What I did

I opted for the repair…and gave it to the repairer without even asking for an estimate of the price of repair.

It cost me $16.50 – and the repair looks beautiful. (In fact, the repair now makes my bag look much better quality! Sorry, I didn’t think to take a picture of the broken bag before I put it in for repair…)

Stitching where zip strap reattached to black bag

Source: Gill King, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0


Buying a new bag would have meant more:

  • damage to our climate
  • depletion of the earth’s resources
  • pollution, including ‘waste’ in landfill

This would come from:

  • the materials used to make the bag:
    • leather comes from animals (usually cattle or sheep, which emit methane as part of their digestive processes)
    • synthetic materials are usually made from fossil gas (which is methane, that leaks into the atmosphere during its extraction and transport)
    • methane has about 28 times the warming power of carbon dioxide (CO2) and is faster at warming our atmosphere than CO2. (Furthermore, damage to our climate is continuing, and the consequences of that damage are unfolding at a rate greater than predicted…and accelerating.)
  • all the energy and other resources involved in creating and gathering the materials to make the bag, packaging and transporting the bag, storing and selling the bag, and me going to find the bag
    • we are ‘mining’ nutrients and water for natural materials and fossil gas and oil (and water) for most synthetics – and then we bury or burn them, which means they.
  • not reusing the materials and energy embodied in the old bag.
    • This is contrary to the cyclical way natural systems work.
    • Dealing with the huge quantities for landfill and/or combustion creates enormous planning and logistical problems: currently in Australia 6 tonnes of fashion is sent to land fill every 10 minutes.
    • A lot of my old bag is made up of vinyl, a synthetic polymer (or plastic) material…and plastics break up instead of breaking down…and that means they end up becoming permanent pollution and incorporated into our food chain.
    • Breakdown of other materials in landfill (or through combustion) can pollute water, soil and air.

In contrast, mending the bag would:

  • avoid all those problems
  • help a local small business
  • save me time finding me a new bag
  • probably save me money – my bag is the only one like it I have ever seen in an op shop, so to replace it I would probably have to buy one new.


When something breaks or wears out, try repairing it. You can:

  • do it yourself
  • take it to your local repair café (or start one!) or put a call out to friends to help you
  • pay someone.

If it is not possible to repair it, someone else may be able to turn it into something else (‘upcycle’ it).

The challenge

How many things can you repair instead of replace?

Join me!

Any change or challenge is easier if you have company along the way.

So let’s embark on this journey together.

  • Read my blog every day for ideas, thoughts and experiences for living a lower carbon lifestyle, more in harmony with nature – while also adapting to the consequences of our damaged climate.
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  • Commit to taking action yourself.
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A problem shared is a problem halved. We’re all affected by the changes to our world so we need to be all in on the action!

Till next time…