26 January 2012

How far is too far?

Happy Australia Day to my fellow Australians! Whether you celebrate quietly with Vegemite on toast while watching the cricket, or at a BBQ with a lot of people, fireworks and wine, I hope you enjoy today. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Just after Christmas I had to go to town to buy a couple of things at the post-Christmas sales. I grabbed my trusty small brown leather bag that I can fit my wallet and keys in, and left. When I paid for my purchase, I was a bit embarrassed to see the shop assistant looking at the inside lining of my bag which was ripped and tatty looking. It had been like that for quite a while. On the way out of the department store, I went to the bag department and looked for another bag. This little brown bag of mine has been my sole leather handbag for at least 20 years. It's probably older than that, but let's say 20. I like it because it's very good soft leather, made in the UK and I can sling it over my chest and have my hands free to pick up things for a closer look.

So, there I was in the handbag department, thinking I'd pick up a good bag for $50 on sale. I almost dropped when I realised the bag I liked, something similar to my little brown number, was $225, reduced by $100. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS for a handbag? I think not. I put the bag down and went home.

Yesterday afternoon, I was in my workroom and looked at my handbag again. I decided to fix it. I carefully cut the old lining out and made up a rectangle of cotton. While I was sewing it on my machine, Hanno came in to ask me something and wanted to know what I was doing. I told him I was fixing my bag. He sort of rolled his eyes at that news, asked me his question, then left.  As I continued on my task, I wondered if I was being a bit too enthusiastic about recycling this bag.

I've thought about it for a while now and I know I did the right thing, for me. I fixed my wallet about a year ago. Same story - good soft leather (so I could stitch it on my machine), with the lining pulled away from the edge. Then I just tidied up the lining and restitched it. It's perfect and I've been using it for the past year with absolutely no problems. That wallet is probably 20 years old too. While I was doing my repairs I kept thinking that an animal had died to supply meat and the leather and that to throw it away without getting the full value of that sacrifice would be disrespectful and mean spirited.  Those two items demonstrate to me the wise economy of buying the best quality you can afford with the intention of making repairs as you go through the years to realise the full value. All it needs now is a good clean and reconditioning with some Dubbin and it'll be ready to go for another 20 years. : - )

But it got me thinking about how far we push ourselves when we recycle. I believe that if something is still serviceable and fixable, then you put the effort in. I don't care about fashion - in fact, it doesn't enter into my head at all when I'm thinking about recycling (or ever). But am I alone in this? How far do you go? If someone you know thought it was a bit extreme to recycle a handbag like this, would it stop you doing it? Would you even care? My answers are no and no, what are yours?

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