It had the makings of a perfect, time-efficient workout: cross-trainers laced up tight, water bottle at the ready, my favorite cardio machine lined up with a ball game on the gym screens. Just one critical decision remained: music. Debating briefly between new alternative or classic rock crank, I settled in on The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street and got set to sweat.
But there was one problem. Try as I might, I could not get the headphone plug into the iPod's jack. I fiddled and jimmied and cajoled the plug but it simply would not fit into the hole. Argh! I put my headphones and pod aside and settled into the workout, toiling to the overhead PA's tame musical selections.
At home I was anxious. Had my beloved iPod, after three years of rock solid service, played its last playlist? After fiddling unsuccessfully with the jack for a few minutes, my mind began pricing new models and features. What color would the new one be? Where would I find the best price? Which features would I want? And then the guilty thought struck me: I was already designating the pod for the landfill before even thinking about whether it could be fixed.
Like most people, I have become accustomed to the idea that anything electronic has a short and finite lifespan, that replacing gadgets is synonymous with "upgrading," and that owning the latest technology somehow makes me cool. But it's time for a new electronic ethos: keep it alive.
I found a man calling himself "The iPod Surgeon" on the web. He worked out of his house, about five miles from me. I made an appointment (coinciding with another errand I needed to run in the same neighborhood) and within 10 minutes of stepping into his tiny workshop, he had popped the case and replaced the headphone jack. For $40, my pod was good as new.
I had kept a piece of toxic waste out of the landfill, reduced by one the demand for a new piece of technology that was assembled in China and shipped here from overseas, and I had saved myself at least $100. Perhaps more importantly, I had come to the realization that older equipment should be celebrated and kept in service as long as possible (assuming it's not grossly energy inefficient or a pollution hazard).
Yes, there are far fewer repair shops around these days. But the web makes finding repair providers easier than ever. Whether it's an appliance (we had our vacuum and dryer repaired this year), a computer (you'll likely find someone who will make house calls), or even a favorite piece of luggage (try you shoe repair shop or dry cleaner), there's someone who wants to help you keep that workhorse piece of gear on the job.
Some things you should definitely consider repairing before replacing:
- • Appliances
- • Shoes
- • Clothes
- • Furniture
- • Electronics
- • Luggage
- • Tools
And if saving money, celebrating the craftsmanship that went into the product's manufacture in the first place, reducing the demand for new goods, and keeping waste out of landfills isn't enough incentive, consider the satisfaction you'll have knowing in you've tread just a little bit more lightly on the earth.
Peter Hammersly, NBC.com