Waste reduction through repairing and repairability

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The specter of things not being able to be repaired haunts us everywhere we turn.

Products, especially electrical and electronic ones, bar old desktop PCs and tower PCs, are made in such a way that they can only be opened with special tools, not available to mere mortals, such as you and I, and even small repair shops, or not at all. This means that they have to be thrown away when something goes wrong with them, even if it is but a minor problem, as they simply cannot be repaired. ifixit_manifesto

Even with shoes and boots we have reached the stage now and even if they are properly sewn the so-called shoe repair shops of today can no longer, in the main, actually sew leather uppers to mid sole, and final sole, etc.

Proper waste reduction cannot and will never be achieved by simple reduction of packaging and such. It will require for us to return to the way things were, and were done, in the past. It is in the ways of the past wherein lies our future; in having good that can be repaired, by either DIY or repair shops.

Reducing packaging is something that needs to be done, but that is a different story, in the same way that reuse has to become part of our lives again. Recycling means that we have failed in our waste reduction efforts.

Goods of all kinds and products need to be designed – again – so that reuse is obvious and where appropriate with repairability. Most good and products once could be repaired, often by the user, and this must become the norm again. We just cannot go on this way in tossing (valuable) things out simply because they cannot be upgraded or repaired. It is madness.

We all know, I an sure, why it is that things today cannot be repaired. Obsolescence has been factored in with wound three years or so (some even shorter) lifespans in order to force us to buy new all the time. With a finite Planet and finite resources in many cases this is total and utter insanity.

When I was growing up – and yes, I am showing my age now – everything (well almost everything) could be repaired, and often by the user with a little skill and knowledge. The wireless (most still had tubes back then), the TV (if you had one), your shoes and boots, etc. But no longer today.

We have not advanced at all, methinks. In fact, I believe, this all shows that we have gone backwards rather than forward. By now everyone should be able to repair everything themselves, almost. But this is not the case. Call this progress?

Only when things become repairable (again) will we ever tackle our waste problem.

© 2012