Last year I was given a Brother sewing machine. With it I taught myself how to sew, I made presents for friends and family and most importantly I gave myself the ability and freedom to be creative and the power to up-cycle. Much to my despair it broke a fortnight ago and straight away I got in contact with the Brother helpline. They were quick and helpful, and before I knew it I had packed up my little one year old machine and sent it off to be fixed.
Today I was reunited with the machine. When I opened up the box however, I realised that it was not the machine that I had waved good bye to a few days before, but a new machine…a stranger masquerading as my old, faithful friend. I had been sent a brand new machine. This one looks like the old one, but smells like plastic bags that threaten to suffocate babies and tiny pieces of tape that might one day wash up on the shores of Madagascar.
I remember the old one, I’d kept the box so I could take it back to university with me, and then hopefully on to my first flat, and it would be waiting for me when I got home from my first job. I had planned for it to be there when I needed an escape, when I wanted to be busy and I wanted to create something all on my own. I thought that it would come with me to all the places I would one day call home, and I’d use it to fix and embellish the things that I loved.
Unfortunately I also assumed that I’d be able to trust some one else to know the value of it, that they would know that it was a really important tool in my life, and that it needed fixing so that we could spend the rest of our lives together. I was a fool to assume that this disposable world would make an effort to salvage the life of this machine. ‘It would not be economically viable to fix the machine’. I can hear the customer services explanation ringing around my head… ‘Are you concerned about land fill and that?’… ‘don’t worry it gets disposed of properly..’.
I thought they were going to fix my friend, and my creative partner. But they didn’t, they ‘disposed of her properly’. Someone else made a decision to scrap something very important to me, because of how much it would cost to fix.
Well, it is not environmentally viable to make decisions like that without informing the owner of the machine, and that is the epitome of the place we live in today. We have a lot of fixing to do, and it’s going to cost us a lot of time and money, and many of the luxuries that come with that.
We need to start dealing with problems and not avoiding them. This is not a sentimental eulogy to my sewing machine, this is a metaphor for our faulty attitude towards the earths resources and that is the problem that really needs fixing.
By Lucy Browne-Swinburne