When it Comes to Dealing with Your Old Stuff, One Option is Better than the Rest
Think about your car. You’d never sell it just because you got a flat tire. Or a broken headlight. You’d replace the tire and get a new headlight. Problem solved.
So, why do we get rid of our smaller possessions as soon as they show signs of wear and tear, a part breaks or cracks, or a new version of it is released? Is it because it’s easier to just replace, and less expensive?
No matter the reason, we need to treat our smaller devices the same way we do our more expensive ones.
Part of the Circular Economy is Keeping Things in Use for as Long as Possible
Which can be pretty difficult, especially when some devices aren’t designed to be repaired. Their parts are glued and soldered together and are difficult to come by (some manufacturers even try to prevent you from repairing your devices by keeping repair codes secret, refusing to sell parts to repair shops, or refusing to make spare parts and repair information available to begin with).
And then there’s marketing. Advertising makes us feel like we need the newest, fastest, lightest version of everything. But, repairing our belongings and keeping them in good shape for as long as possible is the best way to prevent waste. It’s also one of the best ways to reduce our overall environmental impact.
Join the Repair Revolution
Think about the appliances and electronics you use the most? Smartphones. Washing machines. Laptops. Air conditioners. Dishwashers. When they start acting up, sometimes the fix is as easy as replacing a part. Don’t let the assumed experience-with-repairs or price tag stop you.
There are meeting places, called repair cafés, where experienced repair specialists give people free repair consultation and assistance with all sorts of broken or damaged items. Simply bring your broken toaster, bike, or pair of jeans to the location, and a specialist will either fix it for you that day or provide you with all the information you need to repair it yourself.
A quick internet search will help you find a repair café where you live. Speaking of the internet. Have you heard of iFixit (not to be confused with Apple)?
iFixit is a website that teaches you how repair a wide range of products (everything from desktops, tablets, cameras, and game consoles, to cars, clothing, and a variety of domestic appliances) by giving you the tools, parts, and clear instructions.
This website gets specific on brands and ‘makes’ as well, which is really useful, and don’t worry if you’ve never repaired a thing in your life – this is a great resource for first-timers. The website also offers a lot of information on why they exist (namely, why it’s so difficult to repair anything these days). Which brings us to…
Support Companies that are Repair-Friendly
Companies that understand the gravity of our current climate situation and are doing whatever they can to mitigate the impact they have. Take Patagonia, for example. They are often spoken about when it comes to environmentalism, and rightly so.
Among their many strong points, Patagonia make high-quality clothing, because they really do believe that ‘one of the most effective things you can do for the climate is to keep your clothing for longer.’ (Lisa Pike Sheehy, Patagonia’s Vice-President of Environmental Activism). They are also big on helping customers when it comes to repairing, reusing, and recycling their clothing. Check it out.
You also have options when it comes to your phone. Look at Fairphone. Much like Patagonia, they make products that are designed to last. Namely, smartphones. Beyond that, they make products that are easy to repair (their phones are modular, which means they’re made of ‘modules’, or components, making them easy to open and take apart, without fancy tools).
Next time you’re due for a smartphone upgrade, give them a try.
Everything we buy takes resources from the earth, and everything we buy has an impact on the environment.
Positive or negative? That’s up to you. Keep your stuff for as long as possible and repair them when they break.