How fixable is stuff?


I love stuff, I try to be a minimalist and so I try to love a small amount of stuff. But even so there is a set of things that I want to be in my life at all times, and that list grows and shrinks. A subset of the list looks like: car, TV, fridge, chairs, table, phone, desktop computer, clothes, etc. But like all things they wear down slowly, somethings quicker than others, and so as something wears down, loses some functionality, how do you decide what to do with it? I have a few categories in my mind based on what the object is:

Repair at all costs

Somethings you need to repair, there is little opportunity to replace. These are things like our lovely house. Hmm actually that is the only example that comes to mind, I guess it is a small but important category.

Repair at most costs

This is a broader category of things that should be repaired first and only if the repairs are large compared to buying a new object would I consider getting replacing. For example all of our cars, fridge, stove, washer, dryer, toilets, water heater, desktop computer, and sinks all come to mind for this category. They all have replaceable parts that can be swapped, repair people that specialize in doing so, and the first thought when anything in this category breaks is to fix. It is expected that everything in this category lasts decades and so fixing it should bring a longer life span, these are not things that you change every year or two.

Repair sometimes

I think this category is the hardest to define for me because it falls in the middle of the above and below categories. Somethings it really depends on how much it would cost to repair. Things that come to mind for this are couches, chairs, tables, light fixtures, my leather boots, and some of our smaller appliances. If we take an example like our dining table, I did fix it when we got it because the extension wasn’t working as expected. I bought some wood screws and some hinges and replaced the extension locking mechanism so it would stay in place but if I could not fix it there was no way I was going to call a handyman to do it for me because it is a very non-standard thing to fix and would cost more than the table is worth.

Replace not repair

This is a large category, especially in today’s world I am told. Apparently in the mid 1900s in America there was a culture of fixing everything because it was so expensive to buy new, but those days are over and often it is cheaper to rebuy than to fix. This category is so big is encompasses two discrete sub categories that follow.

Cheap stuff

This is stuff that is more or less meant to be thrown away after us and is typically very cheap. Cotton socks, most of my clothes, shoes, all dishware, plastic and wooden toys, door knobs, doors, light bulbs, plastic bags, paper bags, etc. This list is very long and most of it makes sense to me, I wish more of it were recyclable but that is a tangent that we need not get into. We buy stuff, we use it as much as possible, and then we dispose of it. Most of my socks will get holes from me walking around in them and that is their purpose, I dont need to be sad when I throw away a pair of well worn socks and buy new ones.

Really complicated small stuff

With the rise of electronics I think this category is bigger than it was 20 years ago and I assume it will continue to get bigger. I do wish that more things were decoupled from complicated electronics but the world is going in the opposite direction and so I am not going to fight it. Things like my phone, TV, computer monitors, and remote controls fall into this category. They are too small and complicated to be fixed, if a capacitor blows on the laptop I am using to write this then I am probably going to get a new one. I assume it would be costly to hire a computer repairman who knows Mac motherboards to identify and replace a single capacitor on this motherboard. And the things that fall into this category are really expensive and irreplaceable and so when I buy such items I really do try to take care and buy from reputable companies and take of them.