It was just about five years ago that Mr PoP and I combined into one household, and it’s now been more than four years since we moved into our awesome little house. And you know what I’ve been noticing over the past six months or so? Stuff’s starting to wear out.
Built To Break
By now, I think we’ve all realized that consumer products like electronics are built for planned obsolescence as a part of the consumer product lifecycle. Here in the PoP household we fight that to the best of our abilities, especially for expensive toys like laptops. We replace hard drives, memory, and batteries in our laptops and we’ve managed to get about 7 years of solid use out of each of our laptops before relegating them to a non-primary use.
But what of all the other stuff that has started to break or show significant wear recently?
- Laundry hampers (acquired 4 & 5 years ago)
- Wooden cutting board (came with our fancy new kitchen sink 4 years ago)
- T-Shirts and running shirts (about 4-5 years old)
I don’t usually think of myself as a conspiracy theorist, but when a LOT of household items start to feel like they’re showing wear at around the same time it starts to seem a *little* like a grand scheme to make me want to buy a bunch of new stuff. Heck, aren’t most consumers ready to redecorate their homes every 4-5 years anyhow? Just toss out the old and buy some new!
Heck, No. I’m Too Lazy.
Shopping is a chore. Decorating was tough enough the first time; why would I want to do it again?
Instead, we’re just breathing new life into these objects as best as we can.
These wire/fabric laundry hampers (pic above) came from Target and are awesome. They’re not so hideous that I feel the need to hide them in a closet, and are amazingly functional and lightweight, perfect when I have to carry them across the house to the garage for laundry time. Plus, they are brown so I don’t worry if the cat gets them dirty or if they pick up a little dirt in the garage.
But about 4 years after buying them, the metal frames started to come apart at the joints. After a while, a metal bar ended up poking out of the corner of each of these hampers. Not pretty, and probably not super safe. (I *think* we’re current on our tetanus shots in case of a puncture wound!) So Mr PoP bought a couple tiny tubes of epoxy at the local hardware store, and 24 hours later the laundry hampers had set and were as good as (if not better than) new.
Wooden Cutting Board
Our wooden cutting board is pretty awesome. Since it came with the sink, it fits perfectly over the sink to allow for nice easy chopping and easy clean-up. But after 4 years of use the wood had dried out and I was noticing that it was harder to clean after each use. The last thing I wanted was a cutting board that let bacteria breed in all the little nicks from the knives over the years.
So I took some sandpaper and sanded down the surface of the cutting board to remove the nicks. (If you want to try it yourself, I started with 60 grit sandpaper and ended with 150 – it gets finer as the numbers increase!) Then I got some food-grade mineral oil and re-oiled the cutting board. Altogether it took a couple of hours, mostly that long since I chose to sand it by hand rather than taking a power sander to it. (In hindsight, 4 years was probably too long to wait to do this. I’ll aim for every couple years from now on.)
But the cutting board looks brand new.
T-Shirts and Running Shirts
My gram used to say, “Ladies don’t sweat; they perspire.” But she’s wrong. Ladies sweat. So do guys. Heck, we live in Florida, of course we sweat! But that’s why we wear antiperspirant deodorant, so we won’t be gross.
After a while, though, the antiperspirant deodorant starts to leave marks on the underarms of your tops. It happens gradually. Over time the residue that’s left behind that doesn’t *quite* come out in the wash starts to leave marks underneath the arms of your shirts. Normal laundry detergent didn’t work. Neither did Shout, Oxy, or any other specialized stain removers from the laundry aisle (at least not without ruining the shirt).
Other than those marks, though, the shirts are great. So do you still wear them and just make sure you keep your arms down the entire time or only wear them when you know you’ll have a sweater on all day?
I got sick of these shirts being relegated to undershirt status, and wanted my running shirts to be super fresh again since colleagues occasionally see me in them when I’m changing to bike home from work and nobody wants to be gross at work. So I tried one last cleaning attempt to see if I could breath some new life into them.
- 1 part liquid dish soap (we had palmolive on hand)
- 2 parts hydrogen peroxide
- a sprinkling of baking soda
I applied that to each stain, scrubbed with a plastic scrub brush and let it sit for an hour. Then I washed them in a normal load of laundry. They are like new again. I was freaking amazed.
That Wasn’t Lazy, That Was Work!
Each of these repairs took a little bit of effort, true. And a little bit of money to buy the epoxy and the mineral oil. But replacing them would have been so much MORE work! Think of the time and effort to find replacement products we like just as much as the old ones, not to mention the money that we avoided spending and the trash we kept out of the landfill with these simple little repairs.
While it still seems like products are mostly designed to keep consumers happy for about five years, we expect to spend a lifetime performing little repairs like these and extending the usable lives of our belongings well past the engineered expectations. And hopefully be happier and wealthier because of it. =)
What have you breathed new life into in your home lately?