One of the reasons we focus on electronic equipment here at the Restart Project is pure frustration. It seems there are more barriers to repairing our gadgets — certainly everyone has a story about a phone or computer that breaks, and not many can voice a high level of confidence in attempting a DIY repair. Any kind of repair, though — clothing, bicycles, furniture, and so on — has its own challenges and associated skills, and we have a lot we can learn and share with other diverse repair groups. Working together, we can move further forward together.
With this in mind we visited Ugly Duckling, an Andover-based repair group working with the charity Mind. Ugly Duckling share our belief that the value of community repair events lies not only in the wider environmental benefit of fixing, but also in the new ties forged between people, and in the sense of personal achievement and involvement that participants take away with them.
Ugly Duckling currently focuses on furniture repair and invited us to their first repair event to share our skills and learn from them. As we started fixing together it was easy to sense a growing level of excitement as items previously thought beyond repair were brought back to life and groups of fixers gathered together around tables to diagnose problems and work together to repair them.
Even our robot friend and unofficial mascot Wall-E made a friend.
The event made a considerable environmental impact, diverting roughly 35 kg of unnecessary electronic waste from going to landfill or the shredder. This was quite literally the case with one vacuum cleaner, a Dyson found sitting forlornly next to the shop’s waste bins with a note reading “Broken, please take to skip”. Ten minutes and a very thorough clean later, the vacuum was brought back to full working order.
One participant later told us that, if you were to go to a nearby recycling point in Hampshire, you’d see stacks of Dysons just like this one. Perhaps jokingly, she suggested she might try to acquire a few to repair them herself!
It was great to see so many people coming together, sharing, learning, and taking away a lot of the frustrations that come with fixing.
If you are thinking about starting up an electronic repair group in your area, or if you are an existing repair group who’d like to learn more and share your skills, we would love to hear from you! Make use of our Restart Party Kit, a handy guide on how to put on your first event, find people interested in repair in your area, and how to measure your impact. You can also come to one of our upcoming events to learn more and get involved straight away.