Posted by: David Stewart | April 6, 2009

Make it work or do without – in Burma

Use it up, wear it out, make it work or do without

My wife says that her grandmother used to wield the above rule of thumb when someone was considering whether to buy something new or make do with what you already have.

Here in the US, the credo seems to be: “Make it work, but if it doesn’t work it’s far cheaper to just throw it away and buy a new one.” And the related saying, “Remove clutter in your life by throwing stuff away or giving it away. Then buy new stuff.”

What happens when you live someplace which isn’t awash in money?

Last week when we were in Myanmar (Burma), we experienced temperatures which are close to the limit that the human frame can endure. If you must go out in the noonday sun, it’s a good idea to use an umbrella as a sun block. I tried this myself, and yes I must have looked like a geek, but it made the sun much more tolerable.

But Myanmar is a desperately poor country – how can they manage on so little?

In our wanderings we saw part of the answer: something unthinkable in the west … an umbrella repair shop!  Yes, there was a guy working away on the western-style umbrella mechanism. Rather than tossing something that still had life in it, they worked on repairing it.



  1. While my oldest brother went to college, he brought in extra income, 4 decades ago, repairing student umbrellas at OSU. At that time, he had a solid business. I do not think an umbrella repair person would get a single customer there today!

    I agree with you. I think our way of looking at things as disposable vs. repairable has dramatically altered over the past 4 decades.

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