There is an old saying that states – ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. But we prefer this update – ‘it if IS broke, then fix it’! Not that long ago, that was the norm for things. Our clothes, our appliances, our products… stuff wears out or gets broken during the perils of everyday life. Whereas previous generations got out a toolbox, sewing box or found someone with the skills to fix that thing, many of us now see that item as reaching the ‘end of it’s life’ and it gets chucked in the bin (or at best – recycled).
There are many reasons why repair fell out of favour. Accessibility of those skills is one – if you don’t know how to fix something, don’t have the tools, or don’t know anyone that can help, options are limited. Cost is another factor – our products have become artificially cheap compared to a generation ago, so if the new replacement is not too expensive, many people go ‘ah well’ and trot off to buy another toaster for £10. So incentives? There are few. If it’s a pain to do, you can get rid of the item easily and you have the cash to buy a replacement now – many people buy new. Waiting for parts or labour to repair the item takes time, so repair often does not even feature on many people’s radar.
But this is the problem. Our endless consumption of products means an endless consumption of materials, transportation and manufacturing emissions, and often exploitative labour practices. The more we consume and throw away, the more this increases. And as we have already said – we are at a critical tipping point with the amount of carbon in our atmosphere.
Repairing an item not only means it will save the emissions from creating a new item, but it will save materials – items fixed at Repair Cafes amounted to 420,000 kg in 2019 – the same weight as a full Boeing 747 plane. Fixing also empowers you with skills and can even mean that you become more emotionally attached to the item itself. Bringing an old toaster back to life yourself is a pretty nice feeling.
So – how do we go about Repairing?
- look for online guides to help you repair something – try iFixit for guides on anything from clothing to iPhones. Reuse items that need repairing too.
- ask your friends – they may have done a similar fix themselves and could help.
- go to a Repair Cafe and learn from experts how to fix something yourself – they are scattered all over the world and are usually free to attend.