By Judi Morales Meyer
Remember when brands boasted about the quality of their goods, and things were made to last? Many retailers now intentionally make cheap, disposable goods using poor manufacturing and low-quality materials, so things wear out or break and we have to buy new items.
The fast fashion industry has mastered this business model. According to an article called 10 Concerning Fast Fashion Waste Statistics published on earth.org, “The average U.S. consumer throws away 81.5 pounds of clothing annually.”
That’s because the number of times a garment is worn has declined by 35% over the past 15 years. Presently, many are used only seven to 10 times before being discarded.
Our rugged mountain lifestyle requires quality gear, so we aim to buy quality goods from responsible companies that stand behind their work. Ones like Patagonia and North Face will repair your purchases, but it takes a while. It’s unfortunate that not more retailers offer that service.
We all have that collection of things that need fixing, that we just can’t part with because they are special and worthy of repair, but repair shops are scarce making it difficult to have things mended.
That’s where the free Fixit Clinics come in. Keep Truckee Green has been sponsoring them at the Truckee Roundhouse makerspace for the past seven years. Folks are invited to bring in their broken items, and volunteer “fixers” from Truckee Roundhouse and the local community help people repair their stuff.
Last October’s event served 45 households and revived a variety of items, including wind chimes, chairs, lamps, a baby doll, backpacks, a pop-up structure frame, a kiln fan, and a vintage typewriter. Patagonia sent a crew of its own team from Reno for repairs on all brands of outdoor gear — a good thing, since a lot of items were outdoor clothes needing new zippers. Overall, this event kept 367 pounds out of the landfill. Truckee Roundhouse Executive Director Karyn Stanley shared her gratitude by posting on Facebook, “Big thanks to @keeptruckeegreen for sponsoring the event and for our community being so dedicated to sustainability. And big love for @patagonia for sending some expert fixers up for our event.”
Over the years, the Roundhouse crew has seen some challenging repairs, like a Dyson vacuum cleaner that had a broken frame. Like most vacuums, it was made of plastic, requiring some creative problem solving. Volunteer fixer Eli Meyer took on the case and managed to splint the broken item with a piece of wood secured with wood screws. Meyer and the owner were quite happy with the solution.
Items that are brought include clothing with split seams and holes to patch, which keep the textile team quite busy. With the shop’s industrial sewing machine, seamsters were able to repair tricky fabrics like leather, pleather, and heavy canvas bags. Leaky winter boots were mended with leather patches, and knits were tackled with hand-sewing techniques.
Repairing, restoring, and remaking is part of the Truckee Roundhouse’s ethos. If you’d like to become more self-reliant, you can learn how to fix things yourself. Truckee Roundhouse offers classes in their wood, metal, ceramics, and textiles shops. Additionally, there is a tech shop equipped with soldering equipment and tools for members.
For those of us trying to live a sustainable lifestyle, let’s add REpair to REduce, REuse, and REcycle. There are plans for a monthly Textile Fixit Clinic in our textiles shop for clothing and outdoor gear, to be sponsored by Keep Truckee Green, so be sure to keep an eye out for dates. For Earth Day, the textile shop is hosting a Visible Mending Open Studio on Friday, April 21, at 5 p.m. Visit truckeeroundhouse.org for information and registration.
~ Judi Morales Meyer is the textile shop lead volunteer and a Maker Show coordinator at Truckee Roundhouse makerspace. She teaches Upcycled Sewing, Encaustic Painting, Summer Camp, and school sewing programs, and she organizes the annual Trashion Show. As an upcycling advocate and steampunker, Judi posts DIY projects, workshops, and her upcycled garments at cindergardendesigns.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.