Recession Salvation Through Duct Tape

by Sara Clemence on May 12, 2009 in Lifestyle

duct tap roll 200The downturn has made many of us question our priorities, become more interested in spirituality, and even seek out new religions. It’s certainly true for me. I was raised a nonbeliever, and before the recession, I lived a misguided life.

But now all that has changed. It took losing my job, but I have let duct tape into my heart. Duct tape, it turns out, can be a miraculous cost-saver and time-saver, and in the recession, we could all use both.

Today I live by a credo of the Duct Tape Guys: Don’t buy new when duct tape will do. I figure it has saved me about $100 in the past several weeks.

I realize that the Cult of Duct Tape is far from new—just new for this single, urban woman. Developed (some say) during World War II, it was used as a water resistant sealer for ammunition cases. The astronauts aboard Apollo 13 used duct tape to help turn their lunar module into a lifeboat. Keith Canfield, one of the spacecraft’s designers, later said that “I felt like we were home free” once it was clear there was duct tape on board. “One thing a Southern boy will never say is, ‘I don’t think duct tape will fix it.’”

A Google search for duct tape yields more than 5 million results. Fans of the sticky stuff have posted directions for creating duct tape dresses, duct tape wallets, and duct tape roses. Some people even swear by duct tape as a home remedy for warts.

I’ve been using duct tape in more conventional ways—to fix stuff that’s broken. Two years ago, if something came apart or wore out, I would throw it away and buy a new one. It simply wasn’t worth the time or energy it would take to patch it up.

Take the pricey makeup compact I dropped on the floor (twice), busting the hinge and breaking off one of the palettes. In pieces, it was almost useless. But I salvaged it with duct tape, which holds the clamshell together and even keeps it from sliding off the vanity. A few weeks later, when the Swiffer handle broke, my first thought was to get a new one ($17). It took two minutes and a few wraps of silver stuff to bring it back to snuff. The deflating exercise ball took seconds to patch; ditto with the compression bag I store winter sweaters in.

I’m not the only one leaning on duct tape in these difficult times. Another of our founders is using it to delay a windshield repair. A friend in Denver who started sewing her own clothes discovered that a dress form would cost a few hundred dollars, so she made one herself using duct tape and pillow stuffing, following directions she found online. I believe I we can get through anything with duct tape by our side.

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