The humble object in the photo is, as you can see, a letter opener. It was my father's, and the handle broke. Instead of throwing it away, he cut two pieces of scrap wood to size, fitted them onto the steel tang, and secured it with a few old screws.
It is very dear to me. The edges of the wood have worn soft and it's just the right size for my hand. I was very close to my father and it pleases me to use his letter opener. I'm sure it pleased him to use his hands to repair something instead of buying new.
Another reason I like it is that it represents an antidote to our throw-away society. My parents lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They lived by the slogan, "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."
That adage is not much heard any more. The new attitude is we consumers must have the trendiest, the fastest, the flashiest, the newest! We line up for blocks to buy the very latest cell phone, which is probably not much better than the one we toss. Sadly, the elements used in them are mostly obtained by mining in countries that have no environmental controls or child protection laws, or where the proceeds are used to wage war. That is to say nothing of the billions of gallons of fresh water used in their manufacture.
The term "throwing away" is so misleading. There is no "away." It's all still here, in dumps or landfills or the ocean, wasted and polluting.
We certainly are consumers – we're consuming the Earth.