Lost Life Skills: Why Don’t We Repair Things Anymore?

I come from a single parent household, mum, my two brothers and I, yet out of the three of my mum’s children, only I’m capable of even the simplest of household task, my brothers have absolutely zero life skills whatsoever, nowt, zilch, nada – utterly useless basically, probably as my mum is still wiping their arses for them living at home in their 30s.

My mum could literally repair anything, and also make things from scratch such as curtains and duvet covers, you kind of need to be resourceful when every penny counts as it did back then.

Last week, whilst the school summer holidays were sapping my cafe takings and sanity in equal measures, I took a half day to crack on with some work of a digital nature with the TV on in the background – Bargain Hunt to be precise.

On this particular episode one of the contestants had picked up this beautiful plate which, admittedly, had been glued back together from two hundred and fifty billion pieces.

Someone most certainly had more patience than me to complete that task, however, as repaired and botched together as it was, it was a minter (translation from Mancunian – great).

It made me think of life in the 80s and 90s growing up, when having at least one tube of super glue in the kitchen drawer was required by law, a Quality Street tin was predominantly used as a sewing kit and not for chocolate storage, and turning jeans into shorts when you got a hole in the knee was commonplace.

You know those days when we repaired shit rather than chucking it away and replacing with new?!

Lost life skills

We’re quickly becoming the generation(s) of mindless waste, whether it be clothing, food or furniture.

I mean seriously, can you imagine switching on Bargain Hunt in fifty years time and seeing an antique from this generation?

“Today we have this lovely decorative piece circa 2017 made by B&M Bargains, who will start me at seven pence?”

Not likely is it mate?

I must admit, I’ve been guilty of being lazy where repairs are concerned myself over the years.

Renovating the cafe with such a small budget sort of stoked a new passion for all things pre-loved and made me consider developing skills that lay hidden at the back of my ever decreasing memory.



Many times over the years sat at the bottom of my wardrobe you would have found numerous pairs of jeans, barely used, unloved, lonely, with nothing more than a button missing.


Now, had I been bothered to get out, sorry, buy a sewing kit, they could have quite easily have been ‘salvaged’. 

Only laziness stopped me, but if it’s a lack of life skills like this that prevented you from doing such menial tasks then may I suggest YouTube as a good starting point – there is literally a tutorial on EVERYTHING just waiting for you to cast your eyes upon them.

If it can be repaired, repair it, learn some new life skills.

Upcycling furniture

Upcycling was something I always fancied doing ever since setting eyes on Kirstie’s Fill Your House For Free.

Some of the stuff they came up with would not set foot in my gaff under any circumstances, however, there were also some real things of beauty created too.

When my business partner and I decided to give the cafe a face lift, knowing we only had a limited budget we had no choice but to make the most out of what we already had.

Something as simple as a chair covers transformed a dated looking set of chairs into modern, swanky little numbers, whilst tables were brought back into 2017 armed with nothing other than sandpaper and paint.

Now I’m currently attempting to furnish my entire apartment with pre-loved, pimp my furniture style masterpieces!

You can literally see the fear on PK’s face if we drive past any skips – he knows me too well.

Keep your eye out for stuff you think can be given a new lease of life, and if you’re short on inspiration, Google is your friend.

Pimping charity shop and vintage clothes

At the risk of sounding like all I ever do is watch television, stumbling across, and loving Girl Boss on Neltflix made me wish I was a little bit more creative when it comes to clothes.

I’m rubbish, possibly the most unfashionable gay man you will ever meet to be completely honest, but if you have an eye for design you could be making your own unique, pimped clothing and standing out from the crowd.

Everything is so mass produced these days by Primarni and the like that we’re becoming clones of one another.

If, like me, you lack a certain expertise when it comes to fashion, consider a Sip and Swap with your friends.

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We are fast becoming the generation of mindless waste, failing to learn many life skills along the way. Have you fallen into the trap?

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David Naylor is the editor of the Thinking Thrifty blog. An award winning personal finance and lifestyle blogger, he shows how it is possible to live extremely well for less.
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15 thoughts on “Lost Life Skills: Why Don’t We Repair Things Anymore?

  1. It’s something I don’t understand, anytime something breaks I look to see if it can be fixed, if it can’t be fixed can I take any bits off it to fix something else. I have a list of things as long as my arm to make for the house, lots from recycled pallets, some just from scratch (such as BBQ area, pizza oven etc). I could just go out and buy it all but that would cost a lot more and where is the fun in that?

  2. I think that globalization probably has something to do with it, since goods have become so cheap. Sometimes things are so cheap that many people don’t think it’s worth the investment of time and money to figure out how to fix something.

  3. Thank goodness my husband isn’t like that. He’ll repair anything he can, from my daughter’s toys to anything around the house. I also sew buttons and do sew holes in my little girl’s tights but only if it can still be saved ๐Ÿ˜‰ Would love to upcycle furniture but haven’t done much apart from repaint old ones ๐Ÿ™‚
    Dean of Little Steps recently posted…Norfolk Mini-Series: Castle Acre PrioryMy Profile

  4. I agree we have become such a throw away society but actually we do try to repair and upcycled things in this house and actually it’s a good challenge for your brain too!

  5. Oh, I totally relate to this, we were fairly ‘well off’ growing up but my parents were still careful with money and fixed things rather than throw them away. My dad still has an 80s style Quality Street tin full of sewing things!

  6. I love vintage furniture and clothes but you are so right, things just get thrown away and replaced when they break nowadays. I think it’s partly because we buy cheap crap in the first place! so we don’t necessarily expect it to last, and can’t be bothered to repair it…. I can remember my mum and dad’s Sony record player and speaker system that constantly blasted out deep purple, Pink Floyd and Queen, lasted something like 25, maybe even 30 years?! I think when they finally got rid of it because when they moved house it wasn’t even because it didn’t work any more. Really thought-provoking post!
    Tiffany Bailey recently posted…Where Am I?My Profile

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