Fruganomics

Where To Repair Electronics – And Why You Should

This article is about where you can take your electronics for repair, or how you can do it yourself.

There is magic in fixing your own possessions, giving them a new life. 

Whether you are saving items of clothing from landfill or securing a mug handle with a dab of glue, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of fixing your own stuff. It amazes me how many opportunities I get to do that, more later.

But keeping your electronics in use is particularly important. According to the UN Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 each year we produce 2.5 million tonnes more electronics and electrical equipment than the previous year.  An average of 7.3kg of e-waste for every person on Earth. Repairing electronics is one way to reduce this problem.

Three problems with electronic waste (e-waste): it’s wasteful, hazardous and polluting. There are few options for recycling electronics. So how are we generating so much?

1 – we’re owning more electronics

2 – we’re getting rid of it too soon, for something bigger and better maybe. How about we try to hold onto it for longer? Then we’ll be helping to solve the problem.

The economics of waste

Most of us in the West are time-poor, which means we’re working like crazy to feed our addiction to new and shiny things. The easiest thing to do with your unwanted schmutter is to open your front door and chuck it in the bin. 

This is no accident. Activities like repairing and sharing – carefully considering each worn, damaged or unwanted item and what’s a responsible way to deal with it – take up more time than simply binning stuff. And these are the habits we need to change. 

According to the Whitegoods Trade Association a white appliance is built to last anywhere between 300 days and 12 years, if you’re running it for two hours a day. Five years seems a  reasonable average. So you could be wasting half of its life. The message? Always repair your electronics and electrical goods where possible.

Crazy! My late father, who would hold onto a threadbare carpet or a 1940s sofa until well into the 1970s, would have been amazed. I myself don’t like to own anything that needs replacing ever, as I’ve mentioned before.

T-shirt from iFixit - great place to go to repair your electronics

It’s no use blaming the manufacturers – we don’t even look after our own white goods. My wife Sue is very good in this respect, routinely cleaning out and thus maintaining everything that can be maintained, and getting me to do the same in the process. Numerous maintenance people have told us we can double the life of our dishwasher simply by doing a deep-clean wash (special powder, no dishes) every month.

Train yourself to be zero-waste

When we repair things we aren’t just keeping goods in the community, saving them from wasteful, polluting landfill or incineration and helping out others in need – we’re training ourselves in a new, waste-free way of looking at the world. We’re helping lead the way to the “new type” of humanity we must evolve into for our own future’s sake.

“we’re not just keeping goods in the community – we’re leading the way to the “new type” of humanity we must evolve into for our own future’s sake”

That’s where we all have to head towards. Because what’s important is the mental attitude. 

So what are our options?

1. If you’re looking for a manual try ifixit. 

iFixit are the repair manual people. They now have 68391 free manuals, 171093 solutions and 31716 devices. Plus repair guides, forums (or is that fora?) and a community.

2. If you’re not so sure try a Repair Café

Repair Cafés have sprung up all over the place and they are a great way to get help repairing electronics. We have one in Brighton (the original UK Brighton that is) where I live, and I’m a big fan of the Horsham Repair Café. According to repaircafé.org there are more than 100 in England alone so there should be one near to you. They are not quite back to normal due to Covid-19, so check dates and times carefully before you leave home.

3. If you’re sociable try The Restart Project

The Restart Project runs regular Restart Parties where people teach each other how to repair their broken and slow electronic and electrical devices.

They also work with schools and organisations and run Restart at School, a 10 week enrichment programme run by teachers and educators – website.

4. Check out the online communities

… like the Non-Consumer Advocate, Zero Waste Minimalist, various Repair Café groups on Facebook.

… I even repair my own electronics (ok I send them to someone else) …

Fix your electronics - my Beats

Amazing how much needs fixing in a single month.

The headphones are now working brilliantly thanks to Martin. After years of crackling the background noise has gone. Apple said “forget it”, no one else could or would look at it. It’s the mindset that counts. Are these a commodity I can throw away and repurchase for less, or are they a leisurely use of the Earth’s precious natural resources for me to look after and keep in good order? 

the coffee grinder does come to bits

The coffee grinder (continued)

Our coffee grinder has been sorted out and is back in action. You can read the original story here .

It’s still behaving itself and continuing to provide us with freshly ground coffee drinking pleasure. Meanwhile the replacement my sister Lesley found in a cupboard and mailed to us never arrived. So she complained to Royal Mail and managed to get a £35 refund, not bad for an item she wasn’t even using.

My PC woofer (pictured) hasn’t gone so well. Still humming away whenever it’s switched on, although you don’t seem to hear it when there’s music going through it. Let’s face it, I’ve had that speaker, and it’s companion tweeters, a long time. It was humming when we moved house five years ago, and still is. But rather than dumping it I’ll try to get it a new life one way or another.

My 70s hi-fi amp is also having a new life since I gave it to Martin. The loud buzzing that was plaguing me after listening to one side of an LP has now completely gone, thanks to Martin’s skilful hand. 

Related articles you might like … The $62.5 Billion E-Waste Opportunity Eleven Great Ideas To Help You Reduce E-Waste Guilt-Free

Featured image: Unsplash; images: iFixit

Clive Margolis

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