Perhaps we recall our parents and grandparents talking about how they used to repair and mend many objects. Giving clothes a new lease of life. Sharpening their tools. Make do and mend. Repair appears to have gone out of fashion over the last few decades. New items are relatively inexpensive and it is becoming harder to find people who can help when our repair is a tricky one. Some newer products are full of electronics and it can be difficult to figure out what exactly has broken inside. And if we know what spare part has broken, maybe it is more expensive than a complete new machine or perhaps we just can’t find the spare part anywhere?
Some products are even going to the extent of making it really difficult to repair. Consumer electronics with batteries that are non-replaceable. Light fittings with non-replaceable bulbs. Computers with memory and drives that are non-upgradeable. If the product breaks under warranty, we’re often told that it’s too difficult to repair so we get a brand new replacement! If it breaks just outside warranty then we are forced to buy another or encouraged to get a newer model. And the old one ends up on the ever-growing mountain of global electronics waste.
Right now there is an increasing awareness that difficulty to repair and built-in obsolescence are major issues.
Would you like to help people repair more in the future? UCL is running a short survey that will help shape government policy on repair. Good policies will lead to better products, easier repairability and ultimately less waste. Please consider helping with your views and experiences…