Don’t toss it, fix it! That’s the motto of fixers, the men and women who believe that just because a device is broken it hasn’t necessarily given up the ghost...
“Why repair? Repair saves you money. It saves the environment. And it connects us to our things. Ditch the throwaway economy. Join the repair revolution.” So reads the homepage of ifixit.org, one of the leaders in a revolutionary movement that promises to give us control over what we own and help us reduce our electronic waste.
In an article that appeared in Wired magazine in 2013, Clive Thompson explains why we need to apply the principles of the “maker movement” to damaged items, which in most cases are simply thrown away. They’re difficult for the average consumer to repair, especially when it comes to computers and technology, where planned obsolescence is the rule. Certain manufacturers, for example, have come up with new processes that make it virtually impossible to repair a defective product on your own. Fixers teach people how to repair their goods. Several sites and YouTube channels offer tutorials, and multiple forums provide endless advice on doing repairs of all kinds. iFixit, for example, has hundreds of guides covering every field and lets you purchase tools and missing parts.
But today, this community of fixers can also be found in fab labs and hackerspaces, and even in “repair cafes.” Founded by Dutch environmental activist Martine Postma, the first repair cafes opened their doors in the Netherlands in 2009, then spread worldwide. These workshops are open to everyone and provide all the equipment users will need. Anyone can bring in objects in poor condition – clothing, furniture, toys, electrical and electronic equipment, etc. – and take advantage of the skills and advice of the volunteer professionals and others on hand.
For fixers, repairing a microwave, a computer or a telephone offers freedom. And more than that, it’s just fun. Throw it away? Absolutely not!