Help, It's Broken :: Fix Your Life

Every once in a while, dispite our commitment to providing the best, hippest, and greenest design, we feel like we might be giving consumption too much play. So we were delighted to hear last week from Arianne Cohen, Author of "Help, It's Broken"

According to Arianne: "In the world of home repair, the trick to being a good Treehugger is to not unnecessarily replace things in the first place. Here are a few earth-friendly tips:"On Not Fixing: We seem to think that all broken items must be replaced immediately, or fixed with expensive, wasteful fix-it kits. This is rarely the case. The next time something breaks, ask yourself, Do I really need this? Do I actually use this item enough to justify it? For example, who needs a doorbell? The knocker works fine. Electrical sockets? No one needs twenty. The garbage disposal? Use the trash. We are a society full of extras, and replacing extras is both unnecessary and immensely wasteful.

Don't Buy New, Refurbish Old: As we all know, there are plenty of perfectly functional furniture and appliances already in existence to go around. Buying new only encourages companies to produce more, while landfills overflow with old furniture. The best secret stashes of free stuff can be found in city apartment building basements, a gold mine of furniture and equipment left behind by tenants. Make friends with a doorman or Super, both of whom will happy to clear out the space.

To save some cash and help out the environment, try acquiring imperfect items. Take advantage of the ignorance of others who trash furniture, toasters, vacuum cleaners, anything, just because of a few cracks. Thrift stores, garage sales and city blocks on garbage day are overflowing with easily fixable (and often adorably retro) items. A good repair guide, like Help, It's Broken! explains how to cheaply and easily get everything back into tip-top shape.

Spare Parts: Most people toss old appliances, unsure of where to purchase replacement parts. Luckily, specialty dealers by large quantities of older parts, and your replacement piece is only a phone
call away. Try the phone book, under "Appliances—Supplies & Parts", then simply call up and ask. These dealers are usually much cheaper than a repairperson, because repair folk know that you have no clue how much a part costs, and will triple the price. If you can't find a
dealer, try the original company's customer service line—they'll know
where you can find parts and a specialized repairperson.

If you think those are good, she's only getting started. Check out the rest of Arianne's Tips, tricks, and secrets in "Help, It's Broken", available on Amazon or at your local bookstore. :: Help It's Broken