With electronics now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, according to the UN – which predicts that the 50 million tons of e-waste currently generated every year will more than double to 110 million tons by 2050 – something needs to done; and many believe that repairing items instead of throwing them away (even if the latter is intended for recycling) is the answer.

Initiatives such as the Restart Project – which is based in London, but campaigns internationally – are springing up all over the world, allowing people to extend the life of products by taking them into shops, mostly manned by volunteers, who will not only repair the item if they can but will in many cases also show the owner how it’s done.

According to Southampton University, small equipment such as irons, kettles, toasters and vacuum cleaners make up the biggest proportion of e-waste (37%); followed by large equipment – fridges, washing machines, microwaves and cookers (22%); heaters and air-conditioners (17%); screens such as TVs (14%); small IT equipment such as mobile phones and laptops (9%); and lamps (1%).  Obviously not all of this can be taken to a shop to repair, but much of it can, and for the larger items it will often be possible to call out an engineer to fix them.

What is most concerning about e-waste is that many countries are secretive about what happens to it, which likely means it isn’t always being dealt with in a sustainable way.  As well as this are the rare earth metals being mined for the production of many of our favourite gadgets – these are increasing in scarcity and are often put through polluting and hazardous extraction and manufacturing methods.  So keeping onto the electronic equipment we already have has another eco dimension.

Repair cafés don’t just deal with electronics and often cover a wide range of consumer items.  As consumers become more environmentally conscious – and wise up to the fact that repairing an item can often cost a fraction of the price of replacing it – it seems that a cultural shift is under way from ‘throwaway’ to ‘reuse’ (or, as they said in the old days, ‘make do and mend’).

further reading…

With electronics now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, according to the UN – which predicts that the 50 million tons of e-waste currently generated every year will more than double to 110 million tons by 2050 – something needs to done; and many believe that repairing items instead of throwing them away (even if the latter is intended for recycling) is the answer.

Initiatives such as the Restart Project – which is based in London, but campaigns internationally – are springing up all over the world, allowing people to extend the life of products by taking them into shops, mostly manned by volunteers, who will not only repair the item if they can but will in many cases also show the owner how it’s done.

According to Southampton University, small equipment such as irons, kettles, toasters and vacuum cleaners make up the biggest proportion of e-waste (37%); followed by large equipment – fridges, washing machines, microwaves and cookers (22%); heaters and air-conditioners (17%); screens such as TVs (14%); small IT equipment such as mobile phones and laptops (9%); and lamps (1%).  Obviously not all of this can be taken to a shop to repair, but much of it can, and for the larger items it will often be possible to call out an engineer to fix them.

What is most concerning about e-waste is that many countries are secretive about what happens to it, which likely means it isn’t always being dealt with in a sustainable way.  As well as this are the rare earth metals being mined for the production of many of our favourite gadgets – these are increasing in scarcity and are often put through polluting and hazardous extraction and manufacturing methods.  So keeping onto the electronic equipment we already have has another eco dimension.

Repair cafés don’t just deal with electronics and often cover a wide range of consumer items.  As consumers become more environmentally conscious – and wise up to the fact that repairing an item can often cost a fraction of the price of replacing it – it seems that a cultural shift is under way from ‘throwaway’ to ‘reuse’ (or, as they said in the old days, ‘make do and mend’).

further reading…