A New Fix For Old Electronics

Repair, refurbish, and reuse.

A man repairing a laptop computer.

(Golubovy / Shutterstock.com)

Owning the newest and coolest gadget has been a way of life for decades. You may have just purchased a new electronic device or small kitchen appliance on Black Friday but did you consider the environmental cost of buying new and tossing out the old?

Now, instead of purchasing new electronics, you can repair, refurbish, and reuse your old ones.  That’s because a movement of volunteers is encouraging  people to bring their old ones to a repair center where people can learn repairing skills, reported the BBC.

“A lot of us are feeling pretty powerless in the face of the climate crisis,” Dermot Jones, project manager for the Camden branch, told BBC. "Throwaway consumerism and the escalating cost of living just compounds that powerlessness.” He has been repairing things his entire life.

Why repair?
E-waste is the fastest growing solid waste in the world and every year millions of electronic and electrical appliances are tossed out, according to a report from the World Health Organization. This e-waste includes cellphones, computers, appliances and medical devices.

Discarded undefined endangers  both environmental and human health because if not properly disposed of, e-waste can release up to 100 different chemicals into the environment including neurotoxins like lead. Less than one quarter of the waste is recycled.

But an estimated 80 percent of broken electronics are repairable, according to the BBC. If something isn’t done to encourage repairs, e-waste will grow to 74 million British tonnes a year by 2030.

Fixing factories
Now a new concept is hoping to change the facts on the ground by creating “fixing factories”. Once, factories in the UK were the engine behind the Industrial Revolution, according to Positive News. The idea of fixing factories could be the driving force for a circular economy revolution. Two of the factories opened in Camdem and Brent in the spring of 2023.

The factories aim to change the way people think about their electronics and were inspired by the nonprofit Restart Project, which began holding repair parties a decade ago. People were invited to have their electronics repaired over a cup of beer.

“Camden is where we ran our first party almost 10 years ago, and we’ve enjoyed bringing our events to pubs, community centers, churches, festivals, universities and other venues,” Fiona Dear, the charity’s co-director, told Positive News. “We hope the local fixing factory will provide an opportunity for residents to be even more involved with our work.”

 But the factories may not be enough, according to Dermot. “There need to be huge changes in the way our stuff is made,” he told the BBC. Changes in the industry to make electronics repairable are necessary.

For  far too long,  too many things were made to be thrown away and not repaired or reused. With the growth of right to repair laws, this could change. This change will drive the circular economy and make the world a greener and safer place.

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