Why do we trash things that can be fixed? Assert your ‘right to repair.’

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This article is reprinted with permission NextAvenue.org,

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When something breaks these days—your watch, the vacuum cleaner, the awfully crappy computer printer—fixing it often isn’t cost-effective (or even possible).

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This frustrates me on many levels, especially the thoughtless, constant replacement that is not sustainable for the planet; unnecessary spending when prices are rising; And finally, there’s an apparently wildly unrealistic expectation that the item will last more than a year.

(For the record, this isn’t an “Ok Boomer” type of rant. Being Compelled It is real for things to change due to “planned obsolescence”.)

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See: Better than recycling? These producers are taking part in ‘circular economy’

magic with needle and thread

During the pandemic, I noticed that the seat cushions on my favorite sofa appeared threadbare, with the foam stuffing really hitting places. I flipped them only to remind me of the previous cat freestyle clippings.

Since it was a sofa with “good bones,” I asked for quotes on reinstalling it; The estimates took my breath away – they were almost as high as the cost of a new piece. I had already looked at “new” options that were within my budget, but they were all disgusting, expensive, and made from seemingly empty cereal boxes.

Finally, a friend suggested me to contact a tailor.

Using fabric from the extra throw cushion I provided, this heavenly magician healed all the damage (even from the heck!) and the stitching is nearly invisible. I was beyond pleased and the price was so reasonable that I included a hefty tip. Neither of us could stop smiling.

facilitating repair

But why is it that so many of us aren’t creative about fixing things anymore? Is it the allure of a one-click solution or the conviction that doing home repairs yourself is just too intimidating and frankly too much trouble? Yet we all know that it is not environmentally sound to endlessly change things that can easily be given a second life.

Such questions were being considered by then-journalist Martin Postma in 2009 when he wrote “Repair Cafe“In Amsterdam.

The “café” invited people to bring in common items for repair – small appliances, bicycles, clothing and jewelry, among others. Tea and coffee were provided when curious visitors arrived, and the resulting vibe was not unlike a friendly community center.

Volunteer experts did the work, encouraging those who had the items involved and potentially learning a new skill from the experience.

And it was free.

The success of Postma’s first Repair Cafe led her to establish the non-profit Repair Cafe Foundation to spread the idea beyond the Netherlands. There are now more than 2,200 cafes around the world, some of which have been set up in libraries, offices of community-based organizations, or church meeting rooms.

You don’t need to leave home to get help. Kyle Wiens and Luke Soules create online repair community i fixed it in 2003. Weins, who is the CEO, attributes his own passion for repairs to his replacement. molestation grandfather,

“When you do something right – just for a moment – you are a winner,” he has written, His enthusiasm for making the world better through simple repairs that everyone can do is refreshing and infectious.

SeeApple: Apple will now help you fix your iPhone, but are you sure you’re up to the task?

Reuse, Repair, Repeat

it brings to mind Song “If It Can’t Be Reduced” by folk singer and environmental activist Pete Seeger:

If it cannot be reduced, reused, repaired

refurbished, refurbished, refurbished, resold

recycled or composted

Then it should be banned, redesigned

or removed from production

Lots of advice, many formats

At first glance, iFixit may lean heavily toward electronic solutions, but dig in and you’ll find more than 86,000 free repair guides — in 12 languages ​​– for all kinds of brand-name products. There are also question-and-answer forums with photos and simple step-by-step instructions, from unjamming a paper shredder to repairing a keypad on a flute. maintaining old cars,

The iFixit community (over three million people have joined) thrives because of the site’s collaborative free tips and experience sharing. While most repair guides are submitted by “regular people,” all content is reviewed by iFixit experts and updated as needed based on comments and experience.

The technical writers on staff also produce their own guides internally, and the site has a store that sells specialized electronic tools, such as an ‘iOpener’ for gently removing glued components.

do something, not everything

Of course, not everyone (especially those interested in maintaining a relationship) is eager to spend Sunday afternoons on their stomachs trying to fix the dishwasher; However, with guidance you can be very comfortable replacing a cracked cellphone screen. Or fixing the coffee maker.

Only a few thorough cleanings can restore life. This has surprised me many times over—and I’m looking at you, my geriatric-yet-flexible kitchen mixer.

Little things matter, especially if we all do them. Cellphones are now regarded as the most harmful waste problem facing the environment, and if we could all hang up our cellphones for just one extra year it would amount to carbon 636,000 cars off the road,

Also on MarketWatch: You are never too old to learn new technology

Emphasizing ‘right to repair’

In recent years, consumers around the world have registered their dissatisfaction with industrial design, making it impossible for them to repair their own equipment, starting the “right to repair” movement in many countries.

They are pressuring manufacturers for three things: products that can be repaired without returning them to the manufacturer, access to the parts needed to be repaired, and manuals explaining how to fix the equipment.

President Biden gave a lift to American campaigners last year operator The Federal Trade Commission forbids manufacturers from standing in the way of independent repair shops and DIY repairs.

Too Trek president talks e-bikes and why all companies should come clean on climate change

think creative

Finally, if you have something that you really need help from a professional (like my couch), don’t assume “no one does it anymore.” It could be that different people do things that were once done by someone else. A local shoe repair shop, for example, once sewed a faux leather strap on a shoulder bag for me—and reinforced the corners, too.

Ask friends for referrals, post your questions on neighborhood Facebook/Reddit sites, even ask at your local library, and start reading bulletin boards.

If all else fails, consider the motto fromred green“Canadian comedy show that parodies home-repair programs: “Skip the duct tape, spoil the job…”

Sue Sutherland-Wood has contributed to numerous publications, both in print and online, and her short story has won awards. Read more about Sue’s work on her blog,

This article is reprinted with permission NextAvenue.org© 2022 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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