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Why we need to fix what we already have

Pictures. Mark E Phillips

Amongst the first visitors was an elderly couple carrying a large printer. "Printer!" one of the fixers yelled. "Who wants to fix a printer?" Ben stuck up his hand, alongside observer Dan, and pretty soon, the two were hard at work. The diagnosis? A new printer head required.

This was the first ever gathering of the Islington Fixers, a new community repair group at the Islington Climate Centre, A collaboration between the Centre, repair charity The Restart Project and Islington Council, the group aims to empower and engage local people in regular repair activities - to save items from waste, mend what we already have and, ultimately, to challenge the idea that electronics are disposable.

From the moment doors opened at 11am, the seven fixers were hard at work, helping visitors

fix their own broken or slow electronic devices and small appliances.

From headphones to handheld fans, almost half a billion small electrical everyday items ended up in landfill in the UK in the past year, according to research. That's only marginally less than the number of small electricals actually purchased in the same time frame, working out at 16 items per second (1). 

Cheap, badly made products tend to break faster - and the cost of living crisis is making everything harder to replace. The solution is repair ‘parties’, such as Islington Fixers, where individuals and communities come together to fix items for free. It's win-win: e-waste reduced, money saved during the cost of living crisis.

"According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 83 per cent of global electronic waste is not properly recycled, (2)" says Islington Climate Centre co-founder Bel Jacobs. “These are dangerous chemicals and minerals, often mined in vulnerable countries, which then go back to contaminate soil and water sources. It’s not fair. We need to learn to look after what we already own. Repair is respectful - and joyful.

“We conducted a study at a recycling centre, and found that half of electricals being thrown away could have been reused, many needing only minor repairs (3),” says Shelini Kotecha, The Restart Project. “Restart Parties are about enabling communities to learn how to fix their things for free, keeping items in circulation for longer and lowering our negative impact on the planet. They have  a fun and collaborative spirit where everyone is welcome to learn new skills and meet new people”

The next Islington Fixers Repair Party takes place Saturday, February 24th, between 11am and 4pm. Want to sign up as a fixer? Visit Need something fixed? Book in (or just turn up) here:

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