Fix the Planet—And Your Stuff!
To help advance climate change action, start with these two approaches:
- Talk about the climate crisis, with everyone.
- Vote, at every level, with the climate in mind.
But what if you also want to do something more personal—to help your own household as well as the planet? In that case, repair is the ticket.
Repair is simply you or someone else fixing or mending your stuff. Repair keeps stuff out of the landfill and saves you money.
By conserving resources, preventing waste, and reducing consumption, repair directly fights climate change.
Repair also allows us to take more control over our own lives, rather than having all our choices dictated by corporations and institutions. This can be especially important for those of us in our later years.
You probably already do some repair, even if it’s just an occasional quick fix with duct tape. But now’s the perfect time to up your repair game. Following is a toolshed full of ideas.
Find a repair business
When we started research last summer for our new King County repair businesses directory, we were excited to find repair thriving locally, even more than we thought.
As of January, that list includes 77 businesses in 17 cities and communities, in these 18 repair categories:
- Audio and video equipment
- Clocks, watches
- Espresso machines
- Garden hoses
- Mixers, blenders, and other small appliances
- Musical instruments
- Outdoor gear—tents, sleeping bags, packs, jackets
- Phones, laptops, tablets
- Power tools
- Sewing machines
- Vacuum cleaners
- Window screens
For repairs of expensive frames for eyeglasses or sunglasses, you can even send your glasses to a shop in Kirkland. They’ll fix them and quickly send them back to you.
Learn new repair skills
To teach yourself a certain repair skill, just dive into the wealth of online resources. One of my favorites is iFixit.com. It’s a small company with offices in California and Germany that oversees a vast library of crowd-sourced repair guides. It’s like the Wikipedia of repair.
Apple doesn’t make it easy. Even for something like this that you would think should be relatively simple, iFixit informs you it’s a “moderate difficulty” repair that will take 1–2 hours.
Besides the time you put into it, you would have to buy the battery and probably a small, specialized tool kit (which you can get from iFixit). But that might still be your preferred solution, rather than buying a new phone, which is what Apple wants you to do.
If a class for repair or mending is more your style, you can also find those online. For example, a search for “sewing classes Kent WA” brought up a whole sewing basket full of results.
Sign up for a repair event
Stymied by COVID-19 these past two years, like everything else, we hope to get our King County free community repair events program cranked up again in 2022. Check that webpage for details, and updated info on scheduled repair events. That page also has links for other area repair-event programs.
So far, King County-sponsored repair events have been scheduled in Kent (March 26) and Redmond (May 14).
Spread the word about repair
If you become a believer and repair advocate, or already are one, consider getting more involved with repair. Start by simply letting friends know about repair options. You could also follow, and support, all the recent state and national developments in the “right to repair” movement.
Just in the past year, the tech behemoths Apple and Microsoft, plus the Federal Trade Commission, have all made overtures and taken actions to improve the ability of consumers to repair some of their products.
Here in Washington state, Rep. Mia Gregerson’s right-to-repair bill (HB1810—the Fair Repair Act) appears to have significant, broad support early in the legislative session.
This bill would require makers of computers and cell phones to make more information, equipment, parts, and tools available to individuals and independent repair shops. They often do not have access to those now.
If it passes, this would probably be the first right-to-repair law of its type in the nation. About 30 states are considering right-to-repair legislation.
Repair, in its many forms, builds climate resilience and COVID-19 resilience. Here’s hoping 2022 will be a landmark year for repair—an often-overlooked yet, personally rewarding, waste prevention tool.
Contributor Tom Watson manages the King County EcoConsumer public outreach program, including coordinating repair events and repair resources (KCecoconsumer.org).
Photo at top courtesy of King County.
This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of AgeWise King County.