I wonder how many among us nowadays really have the patience to find a place, if at all it exists, to fix a broken zipper in your jacket, to get the backpack restitched, find a new sole for your worn out shoe? When the microwave oven stopped working in my previous house in US, the landlord asked us to chuck it and said that he would buy us a new microwave for the house. Yes, buying a new one is cheaper in USA than getting it repaired. But when industrialization with automation and outsourcing makes it cheaper to import a goods from China cheaper than getting the goods repaired in the same town and helping your neighbour make a living! I am also living in an era where the commodities that I buy don’t carry the real environmental cost – I just pay for the processing cost and the profit. So when I chuck it, I create the need to dispose the stuff and also the need to mine for raw materials needed to make the new stuff. This action has only one consequence: I help corporates accumulate profit while passing on all the environmental costs to poor people in poor countries.
Fortunately, I currently live in Nepal, a country where people still fix things instead of chucking and buying new ones. Stitches on my backpack had come off – a $30 High Sierra backpack. I went to Mangal Bazaar near Patan Durbar. I kept missing this shop. People had directed me to look for this shop which has a board clearly indicating that it is a bag repair shop. The shop also fixes leather jackets. I enjoyed walking in that narrow alley, getting distracted by beautiful doors and windows. After walking back and forth, I finally found the shop.
The shop was not to the main road, but slightly inside. That’s why I kept missing it. It was a cavern with wooden frame entrance painted in brown. Bags and suitcases were hung outside to give people an idea of what all things are repaired in that shop. A board in Nepali announced that it is a leather jacket spray repairing center. I walked into the shop to find a lady who was getting her purse and black jeans fixed. She haggled down the price from 40NPR to 30NPR giving this look of “are you crazy or what?” in her tone during haggling. The front table had zippers, runners and all sorts of bag related teeny tiny things strewn all over. I gave my bag to the tailor explaining the problem. He in turn handed it over to a guy who appeared to have hairs dyed with henna. In 10 minutes my bag was fixed and that too for $0.3! The tailor earned a living, I saved money, and together we worked conserved a tiny bit of environment for our own good!