We’re not the only ones who get riled up about repair. Recyclers are also banding together for their right to reuse and repair equipment. Late last month, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) adopted a policy in support of their members’ efforts to reuse, repair, and reintroduce products back to the marketplace.
Following a successful campaign to legalize cellphone unlocking, winning key exemptions from the Copyright Office for repair, and strong support for repair-friendly state legislation, we are excited to launch The Repair Association (repair.org)—a new organization representing professional and consumer repairers. Expanding on and absorbing the work started by the Digital Right to Repair Coalition, repair.org will be a hub for repair professionals and a voice for the entire repair industry.
Recently, one of our personal repair heroes stopped by iFixit’s California office. And we couldn’t resist the urge to talk shop. Janet Gunter is the co-founder of The Restart Project—an amazing UK-based repair organization. Gunter and her fellow Restarters aim to redefine the relationship people have with their stuff—especially their broken stuff. Our co-founder Kyle Wiens sat down with Janet to chat about the group’s mission.
In New York City, a student at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School stuck his head through the doorframe and gave Jeannie Crowley an inquisitive look. “I heard you guys are fixing phones,” the student said. “No,” Crowley replied. “You’re fixing the phone—but we provide parts and support.” The student’s face lit up. “Really? I’ve always wanted to be able to do that,” he said. “But I’ve been too nervous to do it on my own.” Now students at the campus can learn to fix their phones on their own.
We stopped by the European Parliament in Brussels to show some folks there how to fix their phones. The repair-focused showcase was part of massive effort to put Europe on the path to a circular economy—an economic system where materials are designed to recirculate back into the marketplace at the end of their lives. In fact, the European Parliament is considering taking some legislative measures that would reduce waste—including e-waste.
Every tinkerer is an accidental environmentalist. Every fixer is waging an unwitting war against waste. Even if you repair just because you’d like to save money, even if you fix just because you enjoy it—when you fix something, you’re engaged in a small act that has much larger ecological significance. So says the President and CEO of outdoor clothing company Patagonia.
Fairphone wanted to make their second, in-house designed phone the most ethical, repairable phone on the European market. They even asked us for design feedback to get the Fairphone 2 up to a 10/10 for repair. Spoiler alert: they nailed it! Their phone doesn’t just top our repairability scale, it also has all the trappings of a modern smartphone: large touchscreen display, standardized ports, expandable storage, and a lighter, slim design.
Good news, everyone! The Federal Communications Commission just clarified that it has no intention of locking down your devices. The announcement comes after the FCC proposed new rules for routers (and other devices that emit radio frequencies) earlier this year. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking met with significant resistance from actual users of said devices.
On Monday, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens will participate in a round table discussion with Representative Bob Goodlatte, Members of the House Judiciary, and other stakeholders to discuss the future of US copyright law. The listening session is part of an ongoing effort by the House Judiciary Committee to reassess the intersection between copyright law, ownership rights, and modern technology.
This morning, Copyright Office decided which of your own devices are legal to investigate, modify, and hack—bringing a close to our year-long saga of legal gunslinging, negotiation, fact finding, hearings, and deliberation over US copyright law. Along with a coalition of activists, recyclers, and legal clinics, were able to overcome the objections of manufacturers and secure exemptions for repairing tractors, cars, and tablets.
No fixer is an island. So why not meet up and repair together—with a little “professional” guidance? That’s the idea behind the “Repair Café” movement. In those “cafés,” owners of broken devices get the help they need to fix their devices from experienced repairers. What began as the idea of Dutch journalist and blogger Martine Postma in 2009 has led to the establishment of more than 800 Repair Cafés around the world today.
According to a new EPA report, Americans increased their overall production of municipal waste in 2013 to 254 million tons of waste—or 4.4 pounds per person per day. But e-waste was one of the few categories where recycling rates increased significantly—by ten percentage points in just one year. So, good job everyone: fewer electronics are winding up in the trash heaps. But we’re not done yet. Recycling is just one piece of the larger moving puzzle that is sustainable resource management.