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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

They don't make 'em like they used to

Electronic waste

Credit: iStockphoto

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Stop me if you've heard this before: "They don't make 'em like they used to". You've probably said it as you look at the broken parts of something you bought, hoping it'd last for ages. Appliances and electronics seem to be made for "planned obsolescence", designed to break just after the warranty expires so you have to buy a new one.

It's pretty frustrating, but a little of the "repair, reuse, refill" attitude can help us get more life out of these objects. Here's a few examples:

  • Printer cartridges seem to run out very quickly, and they cost a bundle to replace. But you can get them refilled and save a bit of money as well as keeping the plastic cartridges out of landfill for a bit longer.
  • Rechargeable batteries are another way to use a consumable item more than once. Why not get yourself a charger and a set of batteries that fit your most frequently used devices?
  • Fixya.com is a place where you can find manuals and technical support for fixing all sorts of electronics, from computers and phones to headlights and washing machines. Before you throw out a broken appliance, check their site out to see if the problem is fixable first. If you know how to fix these things already, they'd love you to visit the site and contribute your knowledge.
  • Another way to get extra life out of a broken doohickey is to check the Yellow Pages for repair services. Yes, they still exist, and you can give them a call to see if it's worth your while to bring in your beloved toaster for a quick fix. As well as being good for the environment, you'll be helping out a small, local business too.

You've probably already heard that Australia is starting a new e-waste program, so we can recycle our TVs and phones, etc properly instead of leaving them in landfill. This is great, but it's better if we get the most use out of them first before we start pulling them apart.

I already use rechargeable batteries for our remotes and game controllers, our torch and other little things around the house. My printer has just run out of black ink, so I'm going to give refilling the cartridge a go. How about you, what items in your house could do with some refilling, repairing or reusing?