“Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
The movement to ‘Mend It If You Can’ is a prime example of those small acts multiplied by millions of people……
My feeling that people at the grassroots have had enough and are changing the way they think and live has been given a boost this week by the arrival of Positive News – the inspiring current affairs magazine which I subscribe to. In these days when the headlines are filled with gloom, doom, shock and horror it’s a joy when the magazine pops through my letter box because it’s always filled with uplifting stories of people changing the world one action at a time.
This month’s key feature by Gavin Haines was about the schemes all over the world which are looking to repair items which might previously have been thrown ‘away’. (Of course, there’s no such place as ‘away’ and, as well all know, our detritus can lay in landfill and pollute the oceans for millennia)
It seems that repairing items is really taking off big time and moves are afoot for spare parts and manuals to be made available for professional repairers.
New EU legislation requires manufacturers of certain electronic products – washing machines, dishwashers, televisions, lights and fridges – to make them easier to repair and to make parts available to professional repairers although not to the general public as the campaigners had hoped.
‘From 2021, appliances of these types that are sold in Europe must be designed so that key components can be replaced with commonly available tools. Spare parts will also have to be made available to professional repairers for at least seven years after the last unit is sold.’
The right to repair movement is spreading worldwide and the American state of Massachusetts has introduced legislation similar to that of the EU and, although it’s not been passed Federally, other US states are considering following suit.
This legislation wasn’t the brain-child of manufacturers who, of course, have a financial interest in built-in obsolescence and often put up resistance because they stand to lose out from selling fewer products.
No, it resulted from the efforts of individuals and groups across the world encouraging people to repair and putting pressure on governments to make repair possible.
The Restart Project is a UK social enterprise group that teaches people how to repair broken electronics and the Green Alliance is a charity and independent think tank focused on achieving ambitious leadership for the environment. They say they work with ‘a growing network of influential leaders in business, NGOs and politics to stimulate new thinking and dialogue on environmental policy’
So it is that repairing instead of dumping has, for an increasing number of people, become the order of the day. Some schemes, for example, help vulnerable people by making a space for them to work on repairing a range of items including furniture and clothes; and Repair Cafes bring people together to share skills and repair things.
In tune with this thinking, we have our very own Repair Café in Southend: SouthMenders are in West Road and are a friendly group who get together to share skills and mend anything which can be given a new lease of life – https://www.facebook.com/southendintransition
But, if you have something to repair and feel like going it alone then there are lots of useful websites such as:
iFixit teaches people to fix just about anything with over 50,0000 manuals free to download.
Restart Wiki where members of the Restart community share tips for mending appliances and gadgets. As the site suggests, you can also use the hashtag #SOSRestart on social media to request help.
YouTube.iFixit comes up with some quotes from their favourite repairers: ‘Manufacturers don’t want you to fix stuff – they and ‘If you know how to work a screwdriver, you can keep your electronics alive much longer than you’re supposed to’.
Now, we wouldn’t know about all these ‘fixers’ if we relied on mainstream headlines, would we?
Repair and reuse will have a massive environmental impact in terms of reducing carbon emissions and resource use. To quote Positive News again:
‘We take materials out of the ground, make something from them and use them for a short time, before disposing of them. People are increasingly realising that Earth can’t sustain that.’