23 July 2012

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The more repaired, the less wasted


I heard someone say “I’ll just leave it to professionals to clean” a few days ago and it struck me that I have never given any thought to professional cleaners! Growing up my mom always had tips and tricks for cleaning every stubborn stain from blood to red wine. In general, my family has always been very DIY about things.

My dad often repairs electronics, our cars (for simpler mishaps) and other gadgets. He even goes so far as to buy broken electronics off the internet and fixing them. He bought a working digital camera for next-to-nothing because the previous owner didn’t think to check if the rechargeable batteries were still okay before deciding that the camera is “broken”. He simply put other batteries in and voila. It’s not always that simple, but it did surprize me that people don’t try to fix things themselves.

While my family are thrifty in this regard and we’ve saved money by repairing many things from clothing to luggage to furniture, many people don’t develop those skills. And even worse, it’s becoming more and more prevalent that corporations are cashing in on the fact that people don’t insist on gadgets being repairable.

In this article, Jaymi Heimbuch says that if this is the case, you are simply renting that product. You can’t customise it, repair it or hack it to better serve your idea of what it should be doing. Not only do you have to pay to own it, but if it breaks, your only options are to either buy a new one or pay the manufacturer top dollar to fix it (and anyone that has experienced this knows how expensive it can be) or live without it.

If you do manage to repair or modify your device, there’s also a catch. The manufacturers usually put seals on everything so they can tell if you’ve “tampered” with your own property and then your warranty expires. This makes it virtually impossible for repairers who do know their CPU from their LCD to repair your electronics.


Heimbuch’s article makes very valid points about gadget repairability making jobs possible for small businesses and how it is a much more environmentally conscious route for manufacturers to go. We can deduce from this that companies who manufacture unrepairable gadgets are looking to milk the consumer for all they’re worth and don’t support an environmentally friendly culture of “reusing” as a gadget that is not repaired will only be disposed of.

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