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Sustainability Through Maintenance and Repair

It's impossible to avoid the talks about climate change and other environmental issues that are sweeping the globe right now. More than ever, people are drawing attention to serious problems our planet could be facing if changes aren't made on a global scale.

While there's plenty of back-and-forth about whether individuals can make a difference, or if it will take large corporations and governmental organizations to do something, the fact is, everyone needs to pitch in. It's not an either/or situation when it comes to the sustainability of our planet and our future.

If you have children, making changes in your own home and teaching them how to do the same will help to encourage an environment of sustainability. It's important for kids to know that everything they do can either have a positive or negative impact on the planet.

So what can you do around your home to keep things running smoothly for years to come? How can you teach your children the skills they need for basic home maintenance?

Ditching the Disposable Mindset
There are a lot of things you can do in your home to live a more sustainable lifestyle, from recycling to using energy-efficient appliances. But it's also important to make sure you maintain your home and repair things properly so your devices keep running efficiently and effectively.

We tend to have a disposable ideology when it comes to the things we own or the things we use on a regular basis. But the reality is that most things aren't in endless supply, and in order to make new products, it takes a lot of energy, materials, and resources that could be scarce or could be damaging the planet. About 400 million tons of plastic are produced each year because of this disposable mindset. So making sure your kids understand the importance of regular maintenance before they simply throw things out is not only teaching them essential life skills, but it's providing a more sustainable future for them.

You don't have to wait until something breaks down in your home to give it the attention it deserves. Yes, repairs will have to happen. But the more you regularly maintain things, the less likely they will stop working properly. One way to keep your home and the things in it well-maintained is to have a plan or even a maintenance checklist in place. Your monthly checklist could include things like:

  • Deep-cleaning your house

  • Replacing air filters/furnace filters

  • Inspecting hot water heater

  • Checking smoke alarms

Other general care for your home can be done seasonally, like cleaning your gutters in the Spring and inspecting/replacing weather stripping on windows and doors in the fall. You can get your kids involved by showing them what you're doing around the house and giving them small, safe jobs they can handle on their own, like raking and gathering leaves.

Making the Most of What You Already Have
When you own a home, it's inevitable that things will occasionally need repair, even if you take good care of them. But just because something is broken doesn't mean it needs to be thrown out. You can often extend the life of major appliances within your home with just a bit of know-how.

Many times, when something needs a repair it's a small fix that can be done on your own without having to call a professional. For example, if your refrigerator starts leaking water, fixing it could be as easy as making sure it's level, clearing the drain tube, or checking your water supply line. If your HVAC system starts acting up, check the condenser outside to make sure it hasn't become damaged or covered with debris. Simple repairs can do wonders for the longevity of your appliances and reduce your waste in throwing them out and having to get new ones.

You can also save money on home repairs and do something good for the planet by using refurbished or salvaged materials to fix things. Spare parts, tools, and even used motors for different appliances can often be found in junkyards or repair shops, where they may be trying to get rid of them.

If you do eventually need to purchase new appliances or make other repairs around your home, do what you can to practice sustainability in the process. Energy-efficient appliances can help to cut down on your utility bills, and they're more efficient than traditional appliances. If you have to get rid of existing equipment, you may be able to recycle it so it doesn't create so much waste.

How Home Maintenance Helps Your Kids and Their Futures
Getting your kids involved in environmentally-friendly practices will encourage them to form sustainable habits. You can even turn most sustainable efforts into fun games for the whole family. See who can collect the most recycling each week or come up with unique ways to repurpose existing items you might already have. Have a competition for who can take the shortest showers, or who produces the least waste.

While daily sustainable practices are important, teaching your kids how to properly maintain a home and the things in it is also a great teaching opportunity. Home maintenance teaches kids responsibility, self-efficacy, and can boost their self-confidence. It also shows them how to be resourceful and frugal, which are two important characteristics to have in a world that tends to abuse our existing resources.

If you really want to show your children you care about their future on this planet, you'll lead by example. It all starts with education and informing them how important it is that they work for a more sustainable future. Then, you can show them the ways to do that while teaching them important life skills, as well. The more conscious we all are of the choices we make in our own homes and with our own families, the easier it will be to develop more environmentally-friendly habits that can be passed on for generations.