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When You Should Repair Instead of Replace

Farnoosh Torabi

While we may enjoy starting fresh and replacing our goods, often it’s better to simply repair. “A good rule of thumb is to skip repairs that cost more than 50 percent of what it would cost to buy a new version,” says Lori Bongiorno, deputy editor of Yahoo! Shine and author of the book Green, Greener, Greenest.

Here’s a list of items you should always try to repair first:

Quality Shoes
“Buy the best quality shoes and boots that you can afford so that they last,” says Bongiorno. Your cobbler can make worn shoes look as good as new for a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new pair. Consider replacing soles, fixing zippers, and polishing up whenever you can for as little as $10.

You can breathe new life into belts, purses, watches and more, by replacing buckles or watchbands and repairing handles. Many cobblers will also mend accessories. Sites like watchbands.com offer bands from most major manufacturers. Also, jewelers can refit rings, fix broken clasps, and restring necklaces and bracelets for a fraction of what it may cost to buy a whole new piece.
It’s fairly simple and cost effective for tailors to sew on missing buttons, change hemlines, and repair ripped seams and zippers. Or, if you’re good with a needle and thread, you can make your own alterations and save even more money.
Consider reupholstering chairs and sofas before buying new furniture, particularly if it’s a favorite that is sturdy and in good shape. “You can reupholster furniture on your own with some fabric and a staple gun if you’re handy,” says Bongiorno. “Professional services can be pricey so shop around and make sure it’s a piece you intend to hold onto for a long time. A little glue or some nails can work wonders on other types of furniture.”
Replacing a wheel on an old suitcase tends to be cheaper than buying an entirely new piece of luggage. Plus, it leaves a smaller carbon footprint, since there’s more that goes into manufacturing a whole new bag than just a simple wheel. If you have a broken suitcase, call the manufacturer to see if you’re still covered under the warranty and to inquire about repair services. “It’s also fairly simple to fix stuck zippers or have them repaired at a cobbler or luggage repair shop. And when all else fails a little duct tape can go a long way,” says Bongiorno.