#FixTheWorld with iFixit
Ahead of Earth Day (22nd April), we thought who better to reach out to than the repairing legends over at iFixit? They sell spare parts, tool and kits for tech and gadgets and publish free online guides, putting the power into the consumers' hands, so that they can choose to fix their electronics instead of buying new ones. Their mission is to reduce electronic waste that goes to landfill, and they've been campaigning for the right to repair since before it was even cool. iFixit has been fighting the good repair and sustainability fight for almost 20 years. Incredible work. No wonder we’re such fans!
To celebrate Earth Day this year, iFixit has launched its #FixTheWorld campaign on social media. But we'll let them explain what it's all about and how you can join in...
We're big fans of iFixit here. Your mission, manuals, and products. Tell us a bit about yourself, where you're based and your role within the organisation.
"I'm Matthias Huisken, a director of our European operation. I'm based in the city of Stuttgart, in the industrial south of Germany—a region that's historically been rich in tinkerers and resourceful folks. However, my direct colleagues mostly work remotely in places like Brussels due to the nature of our team's activities, which are focused on repair advocacy."
We've been quietly celebrating the recent 'right to repair' legislation that is due in the UK this summer (see our 'right to repair' blog post here). Is the EU hopeful that this is a good step in the right direction? Or do you think the repair policy could go further?
"I think what the UK will be implementing is something very valuable. It's an important step in a more sustainable direction. It's good for people and the planet that an increasing number of products have to meet minimum requirements in terms of their repairability and, more generally, their durability. And the task must now be to build on this legislation and create guidelines for other important product categories that are relatively young yet ubiquitous (like smartphones, tablets and laptops)—so that they can be used and repaired for as long as possible as well."
By making repair manuals and parts readily available online, you truly are giving some power back to many people. But how do you think we can build on the current repair movement and encourage more people to have a go? What's the biggest barrier to getting more people attempting to repair their stuff do you think?
"We need to make mending and maintaining more accessible and attractive. Information is an essential cornerstone to social participation. Too often, people are unaware that fixing things might even be a viable option. I like to say in this context that with oranges, at least you have options. What on earth do I mean by this? Well, at the grocery, some produce is labelled as fair trade or organic, enabling buyers to make an informed decision. In an electronics store, on the other hand, you cannot immediately see whether spare parts are available or how long software support lasts – fruit logo or not (ahem).
This needs to change! Interestingly, France has just introduced a mandatory on-shelf repairability label for this purpose. And what we see is that some manufacturers are already improving their service information and spare part support as a result. At the same time, our repair community project doesn't have a silver bullet. Not everyone is a DIY enthusiast—and we won't turn every citizen into one, even though we’d love to! Let’s face it, while Sugru will give people some great repair options, and an iFixit toolkit will add more, local support and thriving repair infrastructures are crucial as well. A restart project, a tool library, or a repair café in the neighbourhood will help many people overcome the barrier. A healthy network of repairers that are independent of manufacturers and offer affordable services will be the solution for others. As societies, we’d be wise to create and foster environments in which repairs can happen easily and in which repair knowledge can be exchanged freely, at scale."
So, tell us about this year's #FixTheWorld campaign that you're running for Earth Day.
"We’ll be celebrating #FixTheWorld week from April 19th to 25th, and we invite people to share a photo of their hand holding their favourite tool. Out of these photos of repair fists, we’re planning to create a collage with a motivating message: The repair movement is strong and dedicated, and it’s growing! It’s a simple way to show support to the community. We’ll also share our best repair tips on social media to inspire people to meet their own repair challenge on the occasion of Earth Day. We believe that if you get people to fix one thing, many will feel empowered; they’ll continue to surprise themselves and others.
More repair means less waste and less need for consumption with large carbon footprints. Each time we repair rather than replace an item, we help protect the planet. That’s why on Earth Day, we want to highlight the power of the repair movement and the positive impact of maintaining and mending what we already have."
How can people get involved?
"That’s easy! Fix something that matters to you—and share your story using the hashtag #FixTheWorld!"
Exciting, isn't it? If you're keen to show your support, you can join this campaign too. Help protect the planet by repairing rather than replacing, and share on social media to encourage others to do the same. Let's #FixTheWorld together.