This was something my grandma (Beryl) used to say to me when I was little, but more recently has been taken up as one of the guiding principles of permaculture thinking. David Holmgren borrowed the term to allow for easy digestion of powerful behavioural concepts. If we fix or maintain something before it is broken and needs major repair or replacement, then we save energy, time and pain. The global health care system is a current case in point but so is something as simple as straining a fence wire or calming down in the middle of an argument. When things are not attended to, we create so much extra work or potential disaster. It is also a caring model. If someone, somewhere has worked hard to make piece of furniture and then it is not maintained, or an animal is butchered and then the meat is not salted or refrigerated then we are showing no care for the cost in time or sacrifice. It is an act of gratitude and love to put the time aside to stitch that tear and allow for the garment to care for us a little longer.
Now of course we live in a throw-away society, with in-built obsolescence, and are financially penalised for trying to repair things. A printer for example is nearly the price of the ink cartridge and people collect mobile phones like they are swap cards. It is a balancing act. Because there is always an imperative to get on top of almost unavoidable and often insurmountable debt, we all know that time is money and repairing things takes time which equals lost money — better to throw it out and get a new one and then back to work to pay off that loan hey?.
We have to watch out for the false economy — we'll be watching our lives slip through our fingers attempting to re-wire a motherboard on a smart phone - (yes youtube is amazing but again time is money and not everything can be saved). Here is the crux. Here is the question worth asking - what is worth saving? Health? Tick. Family time? Tick. My Toyota Hilux? Tick. Consumer capitalism... maybe not so much. I think that also, I've had to ask myself how mush crap do I need? I'm not a hoarder, but things pile up. Second hand timbers, seedlings, op-shop t-shirts, jump drives etc. To ask yourself the question before the next purchase "Do I really need this?" is to sew the stitch that will save 9. Oh and i wrote a song with that title on my album 'Jujube'.