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  • AntoineR

Repairing Our Broken Things: The Ultimate Repair Guide

To repair is to restore something damaged, faulty, or worn to a good condition. Repairing helps reduce waste and saves precious resources. Here is your guide to repairing your beloved items.

An open iphone with all internal components

When we talk about repairing it's usually important to talk about waste. In fact, in many cases when we throw something away it is because this 'thing' doesn't work anymore and so is not needed any longer.

So, naturally, if something gets repaired, it doesn't have to be thrown away anymore.

Wait, is waste a big problem? Yes, very much so.

Let's look at some mind-boggling statistics:

This waste is deeply problematic. In fact, each time we throw something 'away' (which usually means sending items to a landfill, see our blog post on the topic), we waste limited natural resources like the trees, metals, and oil used to create these products, without even mentioning the energy and manpower that was required to manufacture these products in the first place!

The Benefits of Repairing

Repairing broken items instead of replacing them can offer many benefits:

  • Save Money - Fixing your possessions is almost always cheaper than buying new ones. Even simple repairs like sewing on a button can extend the life of clothing items for years.

  • Reduce Environmental Impact - Repairing cuts down on waste and saves precious natural resources needed to manufacture new products. Keeping existing items in use longer has a much lower carbon footprint and saves precious planetary resources (e.g. water, trees etc)

  • Keep Cherished Items - We often develop sentimental attachments to our possessions. Being able to repair your favorite coat, phone case, or chair allows you to keep enjoying them.

  • Gain Skills - Repairing teaches you useful skills like basic sewing, using tools, diagnosing problems, and following instructions. These practical life skills boost self-reliance.

  • Feel Accomplished - Successfully bringing an item back to life can provide a real sense of achievement and pride. Yes, repairing things is hugely satisfying!

Tips for Learning How to Repair Your Possessions

Here are some top tips to help you get started with repairing your own items:

  • Buy Repairable Products - This is the most important tips of all (and maybe the most obvious one), but too often we end up buying products that are too hard and too costly to repair, which is why we end up buying something new instead of repairing! Opt for items designed to be easily repaired like Fairphones, PinePhones, or Framework laptops. The harder something is to fix, the more costly repairs will be and the less likely we'll repair.

  • Invest in a Basic Toolkit - Having fundamental tools like screwdrivers, pliers, a utility knife, glue, and other adhesives on hand will equip you to fix many common problems. Materials like Sugru can also be very handy to repair a wide range of broken items. From broken phone cables to snapped headphones, Sugru can be handy in more than one situations!

  • Learn from Online Resources - The internet offers a wealth of DIY repair tutorials, guides, videos, and step-by-step instructions that can teach you new skills.

  • Take a Repair Class - Many community groups and local organizations offer classes on mending clothing, fixing appliances, and general repairs. If online tutorials are not really for you, search for in-person repairor DIY classes and ask around (e.g. Facebook Groups, Reddit, ask friends if they've heard of any repair courses, and - of course - search on Google :) )

  • Find a Mentor - Learning directly from someone experienced with DIY repairs can build skills and confidence quickly. Friends or family may be able to show you the ropes!

  • Start Simple - When first getting started, begin with easy fixes like tightening loose screws, patching holes, replacing buttons or zippers, or gluing broken handles and hinges.

  • Sell or Donate - If you can't repair an item yourself, consider selling it or donating to someone who may want it for parts or their own DIY project. Some repair shops also buy used goods to refurbish.

  • Buy Less, Focus on Quality - Being more selective and buying fewer, better-made items that will last reduces waste. Look for durable construction and timeless design.

Repairing can also become an artform, like the Japanese practice of Kintsugi (i.e. the art of repair, "golden joinery" or "golden repair") which uses gold to mend broken pottery. When something is beyond the state of repair it might still be dismantled and upcycled it into something new! (e.g. turning a worn out piece of clothe into a piece of art)

Helpful Repair Resources

Here are some useful resources to help you repair various household items:

  • iFixit - This site offers hundreds of detailed guides for repairing gadgets, electronics, and all sorts of devices. They have step-by-step instructions for nearly any device you need to fix.

  • Repair What You Wear - This UK organization provides free video mending tutorials for clothing repairs, educational resources and workshops.

  • Restart Project - Find a repair option near you with the Restart Project's directory of events, repair cafes, and independent repair shops.

  • Platforms like Sojo and Loom - These platforms connect you to alteration and upcycling services to give your clothes new life affordably.

With some determination and the right resources, repairing your broken possessions can become an enjoyable hobby that saves you money while reducing waste!


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