Ask Eartha: How to repair instead of replace
Now that I understand the limited options for recycling clothing and gear I’ve been wondering: are there any good repair options in Summit County?
I love the way you think! First, let’s reflect on why it is important to prolong the life of our items instead of opting to trash them and buy new ones. Did you know that the textile and clothing industry is believed to be the second-largest polluter? That’s right, it’s second only to the oil industry. Fashion and gear manufacturing requires both raw materials to create the clothing and water as a solvent and medium for dyes, in addition to the water needed to grow said raw materials. Demand for clothing and gear is amplifying resource depletion throughout the world. What’s more, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 85% of all discarded textiles (13 million tons) are sent to U.S. landfills every year. All that being said, something needs to be done!
There are large-scale solutions taking place in France, where a government-funded program provides an opportunity for the public to claim back seven euros for mending a pair of shoes. Residents can receive up to 25 euros to repair clothing. Even though we do not yet have a national program, we still have several solutions at our fingertips here in Summit County.
Frisco Repair Fair
The impact of the fashion industry is on the minds of our local governments, and they are exploring ways to help the public be part of the solution. For example, the town of Frisco’s Green Team is hosting the Frisco Repair Fair from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Historic Park Gazebo. Frisco residents are invited to bring one clean item in need of a quick fix to be repaired for free. The Green Team, along with local businesses Rebel Sports and Sew Tough Repair will mend small tears in clothing and gear (jackets, sleeping bags, tents, etc.). Some bike support will also be available. The Town will also offer complimentary coffee and snacks in the morning; however, bring your own mug as they will not have disposable cups!
Repair Beyond the Fair
As great as it would be to have a repair event every month, this is unfortunately not the case. Luckily, stores like our neighborhood REI have clothing and gear repair services. They partner with companies that repair fabric, outerwear, footwear, and even tent poles. Follow their simple steps online at http://www.REI.com/repairs and send your gear to get fixed instead of sending it to the dump.
Outdoor brands have also stepped up to help divert salvable gear from the landfill. Companies such as Osprey, Patagonia, Rab, Arc’Teryx, Cotopaxi and Mountain Hardwear offer their own programs to help their customers repair gear. Even though we do not have a brick and mortar repair shop in Summit County, we have many talented residents who can be part of the solution. If you’ve got an item that could use a repair, post a question on local Facebook groups and see if the community has any recommendations for you. I know several locals who get their clothing, tents and even sailboat sails repaired by talented locals. You never know what you’ll find out if you don’t ask.
We may have limited repair options compared to France’s government-funded repair program, but all the local options are worth the effort. Not only do you get to keep enjoying your favorite gear, but you’ll also spend less money than you would buying brand new, and most importantly, our planet wins!
Andrii Iwashko is Office and Programs Coordinator for the High Country Conservation Center. Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the center, a nonprofit dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at email@example.com.
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