How To Become a Fixer

Have you spent some time knocking around our website? If so, you've probably noticed how important waste reduction is to us. Reducing waste is key to a more sustainable future. And what's one of the easiest ways to reduce waste? Why, to fix things of course! So in a perfect world, rather than buying new when things break, everyone would choose to be fixers instead.

'Who is a fixer?' we hear you ask. We define a fixer as someone whose first inclination, when something breaks, is to try to repair it and put it back into service. And whilst sometimes things do break beyond repair, we suspect that in a highly disposable society like ours, most of the stuff that ends up in the bin could actually be fixed instead. 

We're on a mission to encourage people to become fixers. And Sugru Mouldable Glue is a super handy tool to have on hand, to empower people to do their repairs themselves. Sugru is one of the most versatile repair materials for all sorts of jobs around the home, and on the go too. It's the ideal material to fix broken ceramics, worn USB cables, cracked picture frames, and so much more. You can also use it to enhance your creative efforts at recycling and re-purposing. Or simply to improve your everyday stuff, so that they work better for you (and so you're not tempted to replace them with something new). You really are limited only by your imagination. 🤩

Woman holding cable repaired with red Sugru

The Municipal Waste Problem

Icon of person throwing rubbish in the bin on a black background

There are three main reasons we tend to throw things away rather than fix them. Here they are:

Convenience – Mass production produces an endless stream of consumer goods that line store shelves. As a result, it is simply more convenient to throw away a broken item and replace it with something new.

Low Prices – Likewise, mass production provides us with all the low-priced products we could ever want. We can replace broken items so cheaply that we have little incentive to fix them instead.

Municipal Waste Handling – Municipal waste handling allows us to get rid of our rubbish quickly and efficiently. As soon as something breaks, into the bin it goes. Out of sight, out of mind. That is a guaranteed way to make sure things don't get fixed.

Our willingness to throw things away is creating a huge problem. Did you know that the UK produced over 27 million tonnes of municipal waste in 2020?  Most people don't. Unfortunately, nearly all that waste goes to either landfills or incinerators. But it doesn't have to. To quote sustainability coach Jen Gale, "We can make different choices, and we kind of have that responsibility to do it."

Did you catch Jane's chat with Jen Gale in our Who Gives A Fix? series from a while back? If not, check it out here.

Jane from Sugru with Jen Gale on the Who Gives A Fix? Series

Change your mindset

Whilst becoming a fixer sounds rather daunting, actually getting there is not as hard as you might think. The first step is to change your mindset. How do you do that? Well that depends... If you are the kind of person who can simply make a major decision and then stick with it, that's that. Just commit to yourself that you are going to start fixing rather than throwing away, and see it through.

But perhaps your thought patterns require a bit more motivation. If you have a challenging time making a major life decision on the spot, no worries. We have a suggestion for you: choose one or two easy fixes around your house and do them. Make them minor fixes. Get them done and see if you enjoy a serene sense of accomplishment as a result. This might be because you were able to do it yourself. Or maybe it's because in choosing to repair, you're consciously making an eco-friendly decision. The good feelings generated by fixing something may very well provide you with the motivation you need to fix something else, then something else, and so on.

Here are just a couple of ideas:

A Broken Vase – A broken vase can be fixed with a little bit of patience and some Sugru. And guess what? Doing so will introduce you to the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi (or Kintsugru as we like to call it 😉). It's a type of art that turns broken pottery into new pieces, that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional.

Vase repaired with yellow Sugru on pink background

Split Shoes – Are the soles on one of your pairs of shoes splitting? Sugru can take care of it. Sugru is a Mouldable Glue that once set, turns into a flexible rubber. You can get your shoes back in service rather than having to toss them in the bin and replace them with a new pair.

Hand holding shoe repaired with Sugru on orange background

There are all sorts of minor home fixes you can tackle just to see what it's like to become a fixer. Repair worn-out USB cables. Fix that cracked bedroom door. Fill the chips in your bathroom sink. Once you start fixing things, you'll start seeing all sorts of repair jobs to get stuck into. And you'll pick up some pretty nifty skills along the way too, whether by trial and error, and by referring to online guides. And before you know it, you'll be the expert, offering sound advice to all your friends and family!

Assemble the right tools

Tools with Sugru grips laid out on table

If you want to do things the right way, you need the right tools. Becoming a fixer means assembling the necessary tools as you go. Time to get kitted out. But hold your horses there pal... you don't need to run out and buy every tool you set your eyes on. Some tools you will never need. Others you may (or may not) need down the road, so let's just focus on the essentials now, shall we? 😅

For any given job, you may look through your collection of tools and realise you're missing something. Now what do you do? You can try to make do with the tools you have, or you can head down to the DIY store in hopes of finding the exact tool you need. Home fix expert Jo Behari recommends us to "Buy middle of the range price-wise, not something super expensive but not the cheapest." That way, you'll likely get your hands on a decent tool that doesn't break or stop working prematurely, and does the job just right!

There are a few conventional tools that you're probably going to need. Take a look at your current collection if you already got one. We're guessing you at least have a hammer, some screwdrivers, a utility knife, and maybe a saw. Such a collection would be a good start. But the bigger and more advanced your home fixes are going to get, the more likely it is that you're going to require a larger collection of tools as you go.

If down the line you've earned yourself the title of expert fixer, it'll undoubtedly mean you've added more sophisticated tools to your toolbox. And as tools get more advanced, so do the price tags. But don't just assume you'll have to purchase all these tools that you'll learn to use either. Some of the major tools normally used by contractors can be rented from a DIY store. You can save yourself some money (and keep things more eco-friendly), by renting out what you need instead of buying.

At this point, it's important to mention that there will be instances when conventional tools aren't always required. There are some unconventional options that can be just what you need to do the trick. Take Sugru for example. While Sugru can't hammer in, or saw off anything, it's a fantastically versatile 3D glue that's mouldable by hand, can be shaped to rebuild or replace broken or missing pieces, can bond things together, and can fill in gaps. There's no shortage of uses, so keeping a pack handy in the fridge will always come into good use.

Train set repaired with Sugru

Always be willing to learn

Between assembling tools and actually fixing things, there is a lot to learn. As such, learning is the next part of becoming a fixer. Be willing to learn as much as you can about all sorts of fixes. If you do, you will soon discover just how true the saying 'knowledge is power' actually is.

Let's say you are tackling a brand-new project you've never even considered before. Maybe you have a broken chair that would have otherwise sent you running to the furniture store to buy a whole new dining room set. Take the time to understand your different choices for repairing that chair. You might even learn a thing or two about how the chair was originally built. Understanding materials, construction methods, etc. will help you affect a better repair.

Two chairs stacked one on top of the other

If there are other people in your life you would consider fixers, learn from them as well. Ask them questions. Pick their brains. You might even consider asking them to help you on that new project you are unsure of.

Learn to use your tools

Learning how to become a fixer doesn't stop with learning about the projects themselves. Believe it or not, you also need to learn how to use your tools properly. For example, there are right and wrong ways to use a reciprocating saw. The same goes for a power drill. Even Sugru needs to be utilised in different ways depending on the project at hand. Learn the best way to use Sugru and it could become the most important repair tool in your box.

Here are just a few basic Sugru tips to help get you started:

  • Keep your unopened packs in the fridge to triple the amount of time you've got left to use them
  • Keep the surfaces you're sticking to clean and dry
  • Line up your repairs to do all at once. This is so that you can get the most out of each pack
  • When working with more porous surfaces, smudge a small amount of Sugru onto the surface first, before applying more
  • Press the edges down, making sure there are no gaps or shadows. This ensures a strong bond
  • You have 30 minutes to shape, stick and smooth out your Sugru before it begins to set
  • Once you're happy with your Sugru application, use masking tape to hold it in place
  • You can mix Sugru colours to match the surfaces you are working on

Hand smearing Sugru on a porous surface

Your tools are only as good as the ways in which you use them. So learn as much as you can about each one. The internet is a great place to find helpful videos demonstrating all sorts of ways to use your tools. Take advantage of them. A video can help with your understanding a lot more than written text alone.

Think Outside the Box

Person dangling their feet outside of box that has drawings on it

All the best fixers in the world are people who know how to think outside the box. Seamstress and clothing repair expert Layla Sargent learned to think outside the box as a young child. She often tells the story of how her grandmother was quick to repair and alter clothing. It made an indelible impression on her.

"I always had my clothes made, remade, altered, customised over and over. I kind of thought this was normal," Sargent said  about her childhood. When she became a teenager, she was exposed to peers who were more likely to throw clothing away than fix it. "This is so different from what I understand," she said. "You buy something, you wear it once and then you never see it again."

Thinking outside the box goes beyond just changing your mindset. When you change your mindset, you are making the commitment to start fixing things instead of throwing them away. But when you begin thinking outside the box, you start looking for new and creative ways to fix. No fixes are beyond possibility because you're willing to explore every avenue.

Waste not, want not

Hands holding plate repaired with Sugru in the shape of a leaf

Reducing waste might seem too difficult for you. Trying to fix things, even more so. But consider the old adage that says, 'waste not, want not'. There is a lot of value in that thinking. Reducing waste by fixing things changes the way you look at stuff. It changes the way you view the difference between wants and needs. When you want less, you tend to waste less. And the less you waste, the less likely you are to want things you don't need.

By its very nature, waste is a negative thing. It is necessary to some degree. It is just not possible for human beings to exist without producing some amount of waste. But modern society has gone way above and beyond minimal waste requirements. We produce millions of tonnes of unnecessary waste every year.

We hope you will join us in our drive to teach people to become fixers. If more of us were fixers, fewer among us would be so quick to throw things away. We fixers could reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills while saving money at the same time. Doesn't that seem like the right way to go? We think so.

While you are thinking all this over, don't forget Sugru. It is an amazing product with dozens of applications around the home. Use it as a mouldable glue, a filler material, or even a medium for your art. You will be amazed at all the things you can do with it.

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