As a child there was no greater shame than the day my jeans had to be mended. But as a tomboyish and active youth I knew that the day would inevitably come. My mother tried multiple methods of consoling me; tempting my acceptance with bright iron-on patches in the shapes of flowers and rainbows. When that didn’t work she’d cut shapes out of other old jeans; stars, hearts and even just regular squares.
“You can’t even see it,” she said, after proudly showing me her handiwork.
But I could see it, and no matter how discrete the patches on my knees were, I’d feel an intangible sense of shame when I wore my pants after.
When I moved away for college, all of my broken things were thrown in the trash. It was much easier to replace things — be it ceramic bowl or winter coat — with something cheap and new. It was more fun to move onto the newer, better thing.
But with time, I’ve come to see this as irresponsible, mainly, because ownership is a responsibility.
This is best illustrated with a larger purchase, such as a car. When your car runs out of gas or needs a tire replaced, it would not be rational to go out and buy a new car. You tend to it, fill it up or take it in. You take ownership of the vehicle and except it in its current state, turning away from replacement and committing to fix it.
Consumerism would prefer this to not be the case, as it would be great for the auto industry if you got a new car every time your older one needed an inspection. Our economy runs on people needing to replace things, and so much of that demand hurts the environment (and our savings) in the process.
Mending my own jeans now, though it may take me the whole of 30 minutes with Netflix playing in the background, is acknowledging that I own them. I’ve paid for them with my money and as an extension of that my time, as well as the multitude of resources it took to make those jeans. They still work for me, so it’s my responsibility to do some work for them. In the long run, the sacrifice for me and the planet is so much less.
Plus, I think that iron-on patches are making a comeback.