We appeared this week on BBC Breakfast, talking about the importance of repair. Here is a summary of what The Restart Project does and why repair is so crucial to fix our throw-away economy.
What you can do
Get involved with our work:
- If you live in the UK, sign our petition for more repairable products and share it widely. (There are similar petitions for Germany and Italy.)
- Wherever you live, stay informed via our monthly newsletter.
- Join our community by fixing, sharing skills or organising community repair events
Repair is simply common sense. People are tired of throw-away products: they remember when appliances lasted longer. One day we will look back at the past couple of decades and just shake our heads.
Electronics are very much our blind spot. It’s amazing to see people getting involved in plastic waste, food waste, fast fashion. But electronics have massive invisible environmental impacts too. The UK is the world’s second highest producer of e-waste per capita, producing 55 lb per year (source: United Nations University). The other top producing countries are much better at recycling than we are: between a quarter and a third of all e-waste ends up in landfill in the UK.
Up to 80% of all energy used in the life of an electronic device happens at manufacturing, before it reaches us. This means that the only way we can reduce our environmental impact is by using our electronics for longer. The greenest device is the one we already have.
The Restart Project helps people learn how to repair their broken electronics, through our Restart Parties: free community repair events where participants can work with a skilled volunteer to fix anything with a plug or a battery.
They’re spaces for learning skills and reflecting about how we consume in the first place. Repair is fun, it’s social, it saves money, and helps us be creative and constantly learn.
We help other groups get started. And we’re part of a larger movement of community repair groups across the world, which keeps growing. Last month we held Fixfest UK, a UK-wide event in Manchester with 59 activists from 25 groups from Belfast to Pembrokeshire to Leeds.
What we can repair – and can’t
We also collect data about our work, to make barriers to repair more visible and push for change in the way products are made.
The most popular products we fix at our events are laptops, mobiles, small kitchen appliances, hi-fi components and lamps. We repair a little over half of what is brought on the spot. A fifth is end-of-life.
With the rest, repair could be possible, but there are barriers. Often we refer unfinished repairs to professionals, however they share some of the same barriers we experience:
- lack of access to spare parts
- lack of repair documentation and tools
- product design often making disassembly impossible
There is massive public support to bring down these barriers, and for us to have the Right to Repair the stuff we buy. People overwhelmingly want more repairable products and they think the government should ensure this – more and more studies show this, both at European level and in the UK. A study just published by the Green Alliance proves public support for repairable products.