Monday, August 27, 2018


There are many useful and interesting things to be found on Pinterest, from ideas, to “how to” instructions, to inspiration, to trends. There, as in home magazines, there are plenty of buzzwords, too, like “upcycle”, “repurpose”, and more. But what about when something is basically just repaired and returned to use? What should we call that? “Repaircycle”?

The photo above is of some metal canisters I bought years ago for coffee, tea, and one for biscuits (cookies). I liked them because they were metal, the paint was red (at the time, one of our accent colours), and the anodised finish gave it a retro look I liked.

I had two smaller canisters, two larger ones, and one large one. We hadn’t had them all that long before, one after the other, the ring on the lid broke off, all except one. We retired the canisters (bought new ones) and moved on—but they were boxed up, waiting for a new use. I found a way to use them again.

In the photo above, the canister at left (currently used for Bella’s food) is the only one left with an intact ring on the lid. To the right is a taller one as repaired. In the foreground is an unrepaired lid, plus the knob I used to repair the lid (at far left) and the underside of the broken ring pull next to it.

I decided to find a solution at all because the lids were well made: There were rubberised rings on top and below to protect the glass, and the flat washer-like think on top was separate from the ring pull.

So, I decided to buy some drawer pulls to replace the original rings (the broken-off rings were thrown away at the time, since welding them back on wasn’t something we could do ourselves, and I didn’t think it would last, anyway). I found some pulls I really liked, with bases big enough to replace the original base of the ring, BUT, they were plastic. Not a starter.

So, I bought some metal drawer pulls (pictured), and took out the original base of the old pull. The base of the pull sits in a little depression, which, at first, I didn’t like, but which I now think looks good.

I replaced the broken lid for the canister I had (canister on the right), which I used for Leo’s food. However, even after 18 months in this house, we still haven’t found all the canisters/lids. So, I still haven’t repaired them all, though I bought enough knobs to do so.

The thing is, once broken, the canisters were difficult to use, so we put them away. Repaired, they’re usable again, but we bought new canisters to replace them when most of them were broken. We’ve re-purposed a couple of the old ones so far, and I have a use for another. I have no doubt that once they’re all found and repaired, I can find uses for them all. I do still like them, after all.

But what do we call this? This is not “upcycling”, which is taking something old and worn out and giving it a new look, a new life and, quite possibly, an entirely new use. It’s not recycling, which means discarding them, and it’s not merely reusing them—though there is an element of that.

Basically, this is merely repairing them, replacing worn/irreparable parts rather than literally repairing them. We have no trendy name for that—how about “Repaircycle”? Or maybe, “Uprepair”? Sometimes these days it seems that the only way to get people interested in time-tested solutions—as, in this case, repairing something so it can be used again—is to give it a trendy name. I don’t know what to call this, but I certainly wish more people did it.

Meanwhile, I have a set of old canisters I still like that are functional for the first time in years, and that’s a good thing. They cost me very little to fix, and, since I still like them, it’s money well spent.

But, how do we make something old-school like repairing things we already own trendy again?


rogerogreen said...

How about "fix"? Or "repair"? In a disposable society, that's an amazing concept.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Exactly! That's why I'd like to give it a flash name, something that can be trendy and adored by Hipsters so that more people will take it up. Somehow it seems easier than getting people to start growing their own fruits and vegetables.