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A big year in repair activism

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With 2019 drawing to a close, we’re feeling reflective here at Restart. This year has been one of the best yet for repair, so let’s look back at some of the highlights from the last twelve months.

The Right to Repair went mainstream

After months of campaigning and getting huge media coverage in the UK and globally, we were thrilled that EU member states set an important precedent for repairable products. While it wasn’t all good news, this new set of regulations sets a ‘design for disassembly’ standard: a fundamental step towards a universal Right to Repair.

Building on this foundation, we recently teamed up with four European partners to launch a new European Right to Repair campaign pushing for system change around repair.

A banner being held by activists. The banner reads: No more disposable products. Right to Repair.

In the UK, we also saw many more community repair groups call on UK policy makers and manufacturers to prioritise repair by signing the Manchester Declaration. With endorsements from 50 community groups, 18 allied organisations and 8 members of parliament and party leaders, politicians are starting to pay more attention. Two mainstream parties have even included the right to repair in their manifestos for the upcoming UK general election.

The repair community has kept growing

A group of around 200 people who came to Fixfest Berlin
Photo by Mark A Phillips

We’ve marked a number of important milestones as a community this year. The network ran its 1,000th event in May and, together, we’ve run more than 500 events this year alone.

It’s fascinating to see dips in the number of events over the summer and in the winter. If you organise community repair events, help us shake off the winter blues and list your events for January and February 2020 now!

Other event highlights from last year include:

• Fixfest Italia, Turin – the first national gathering for the Italian repair community
The second-ever global Fixfest, Berlin
• Tenth Anniversary of the Repair Café movement, Amsterdam
• Third International Repair Day, global – bigger than ever this year

We did loads of public speaking, including at New Economics Foundation about the right to repair, at the Royal Institution about the need to use products for longer to save precious materials.

Janet at the Ri talking about precious elements inside smartphones
Photo by Piers Macdonald, for the Royal Society of Chemistry

Repair is more than just fixing stuff

We logged our 10,000 repair in our network, and when combined with partner repair organisations, we’ve pulled together nearly 30,000 repair attempts. We’re working on analysing the data — with two community “data dives” which have helped us create an online tool to help analyse the data. Watch this space for that! Most importantly, through the European Right to Repair campaign, we are finding ways to take our data and push for change upstream: better, longer-lasting products.

We launched our “Materials Matter” educational resources, that help all ages take apart their smartphones and learn about the precious raw materials inside. You can download them here, and if in the UK order print copies for free.

Before we finish the year…

If you are in the UK, in a repair group, you can still access our small grants scheme to help grow the repair movement. There is very little left in the pot, and it’s allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

We’re having a global community call with repair groups on 10th December. We’ll share learning from the year, talk about some new approaches and activities for next year.

And on 17th December, we’re diving into our Wiki, all welcome to participate remotely. Come and join us as we look through some of the repair data logged by the network from events and glean knowledge from repairers on the ground that can be added to the wiki for everyone’s benefit.

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