Inside the Real Repair Shop 7*
"So, this month, I thought I’d consider the case against repair. Have I gone quite mad?"
Outlining some reasons as to why repair isn't always feasible - i.e. barriers to repair.
It’s no coincidence that popular TV series The Repair Shop majors on pre-1980 cherished items. Older items, made from quality materials, conceived before manufacturers built-in precise planned mechanical and electronic obsolescence, usually stand a chance of being repaired by crafts people, as that’s how they might have been made in the first place.
You see, a child’s toy or home printer manufactured today, on a sophisticated plastic moulding machine with sealed-in electronics will be almost impossible to repair without destroying the outer casing first.
And even if you could get to the faulty battery or printed circuit board, it would be virtually impossible to repair at a reasonable cost, assuming the spares were available.
But take a modern washing machine, and parts prices are often not economic to buy, especially when you factor-in an engineer’s time for the repair Its often easier and cheaper to replace the whole thing anyway with next day delivery, just a click away on your phone with interest free credit. And that’s a mighty tempting prospect when the family’s washing is piling up on the floor.
And artificial cheapness of new products, due to 'externalities', labour exploitation, etc.
[…]repair is now the reserve of the reasonably well-healed. […] To bring it back to life, it will need care, parts, experience and (usually lots of) time. All things that must cost money.
Repair is definitely a discretionary purchase now and if you’re a bit brassic, and your microwave oven goes kaput, are you going to spend £100 getting your old machine repaired? No, you’ll do the sensible thing and buy a new one from Amazon for £40 delivered next day, as you need to feed your family.
Artificial cheapness again.
New appliances are sometimes more efficient and perform better.
Take a domestic fridge. Modern ones could use as much as half the energy than those made 30 years ago, and offer more features as standard.
Technology never stops marching on, and we can all benefit from replacing some creaking appliances with something up to date sometimes.
It’s usually more environmentally beneficial to keep something running as long as possible by spreading the manufacturing and shipping impact over a long functional life. And I don’t know about you, but I dislike the thought that someone else has already booked the death day for something I own!
I mean, just by looking at carbon-offsetting alone, consider this: Replacing a domestic kettle every three years, which has been shipped from China, made with complicated materials and electronics with no hope of repair, is not as environmentally kind as a simpler one that lasts for 9 years. Sadly, those kettles just don’t exist any more and if they did, I suspect that they would be far too expensive to be a mass-market product
But I can leave you with a simple piece of advice; look after your things, buy quality items if you can and consider second-hand at all times to make the Pound (or insert your chosen currency here) in your pocket go further, all very sensible in these uncertain times.
1.1. In my garden
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