the power of repair
We have all experienced the annoyance of failing products. We are pretty much guaranteed that everything we own will break at some point in the future. Some large things we will keep repairing for as long as possible (houses, cars etc.) mainly due to the expense of buying new ones. However, a lot of products that break on us are quickly thrown away. Whether this is due to lack of time, knowledge or skills to repair them or just because it’s easier or cheaper to replace it with a new product. But what if we started to repair?
It is said we live in a throw away society, but how much of this is due to built in obsolescence or due to individual convenience. Indeed there are too many examples of products designed to be thrown away once a single component fails. Such as the latest Apple Mac pro that has being labelled as the most unrepairable laptop.However, designers justify this approach to disposalable design for many reasons such as safety, costs, manufacturing speeds, or just knowing people would rather throw out products than fix them.
My recent experience of trying to repair my broken hairdryer highlighted many of the points above. This mid range hair dryer was hard to open due to tamper proof screws and tricky snap joints. When I finally got it opened I was luckily that exploding spring didn’t hit me in the face. However, fixing the broken part took a fraction of the either opening or putting the hair dryer back to together. At the end it was just a wire that had snapped and needed to be soldered back together. Why do I repair, it’s because I get attached to products and to prolong our shared life together for as long as possible. I like to surround by things with stories and that’s not possible if I constantly bought new products.
In order to explore the power of repair, the Ecodesign Centre co-hosted some repair classes with Tradeschool Cardiff. The idea was to show people that repairing is possible for all of us. We began with Nick Cannon from cycle training wales giving us some great insight some basic bike repairs. Than Tim Forman imparted some great little tips on how to make simple furniture repairs. This was followed by Sarah and Julia from Zolibeau who showed us some work they do repairing and upcycling unwanted clothes.
Before we can demand companies make repairable products we have to prove that people do repair. Indeed some products should not be repaired by the novice at home but there are many more that can be fixed with just a little bit of time and effort.
What was the last thing you fixed?
Below are some links will hopefully inspire and enable you to start repairing.