A Non Disposable World


The master at work

Being a perpetual slave/sucker for new gadgets and technology, I can never resist a new advancement when I need to purchase the same old things.
This is how, upon retiring my dear, 11 year old hiking boots, I ended up with a new pair of The North Face Plasma GTX BOA II boots. The boots had a differentiating benefit in the new tightening system which used a crank and wires instead of laces .

Although the system worked really well when I tried them out and even broke them in at some hikes back home, I knew in the back of my head that a time will come where I’d curse the new system and wish for some good old fashion laces. And it happened when climbing down in the pouring rainforest storms of Mt. Kinabalu for eight hours, when the tightners gave up tightening and the fastners stop fasting.


New boots with no dirt, and of course, no laces!

After blisters and reflections once off the mountain, I had a moment of panic, recalling my knowledge that my size 12.5 feet were not going to find a new match anywhere in Asia. However, I remembered a sight which had fascinated me when we first arrived at Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, which was the hundreds of cellphone repair shops which were thoroughly ripping apart and fixing cellphones which Nokia and the likes never intend to live past the simplest problems.

I recognized that this wasn’t something purely about the cellphones, but also a great quality about the culture(and many others in the world), that through the ingenuity of craft masters, things can live well beyond the lifespan we imagine for them. For all the recycling and organic purchases we make in the states, it seems that we unfortunately also throw away twice as many products before it should ever be a time to dispose them.

In the west, repairing these boots would probably cost more and be harder to than purchasing a new pair. But it took me about 5 minutes to find a man who spoke no English but understood and fixed my problem like the master he was. He even put metal lace holders that should put the original northface designers to shame for not considering this backup.

New and improved boots with laces

The new and improved boots with laces

Back home, these boots would probably find their way to the garbage, but in a non-disposable society, they are kicking with their new laces and ready to carry me through the rest of the mud and dirt this trip will throw at me.

4 comments to A Non Disposable World

  • Neil Moloney

    Mazi, following your adventures with a great deal of envy! Keep up the great reporting.

  • Melodika

    Maybe if we learned to repair things more often, there would be more jobs for people in the states after all. Trades like the shoe repair man are dead or too expensive to be worth the try In this culture. Just came from an art show where a scarf was priced at $650.00. If I pay that much for a scarf I won’t have the time to fix the broken shoe laces on my $200.00 pair of hiking shoes. Viva master repairman…. may you live on forever!

  • Nelson

    i’d at least have another two pairs of ferragamos in my carryon luggage with my ten bottles of hair gel for this trip…no backup shoes?

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