Even Santa likes Repairs

Kaitlin Dryburgh– 16th December 2022

As Christmas fast approaches we begin to see what kind of people we all are, those who finished their Christmas shopping in October, those that have steadily finished theirs mid-December and those that might start planning on the 23rd. No matter which category you may fall into I hope that this year, more than those past we all consider the quality of presents we give, where we buy them from and the price we are willing to spend for them. Meaning are we willing to give any plastic tat to children that will break instantly and be forgotten about immediately, should we really be clicking on that Amazon prime button when we could go to our local high street and are we willing to spend even a few pounds more to buy local. With the cost-of-living crisis right now our pennies count and hopefully we’re all making sure they’re going to the right place, but it goes both ways. If you care even a little you’ll give thought to what you’re buying, but part of that is ensuring that the shops we buy our presents from are also trying to do better. Are the retailers and manufacturers making sure their products are ethically sourced and made, can they be easily recycled and if applicable have they made it easy for repairs and spare parts to be sought?

I’m brining this up as this weekend just past I tried to get my phone fixed. I unfortunately smashed the camera lens, to be honest I’ve dropped my phone so many times I’m surprised that’s all that I’ve broken. As I know how clumsy I am I bought Apple Care with the phone, so this would make repairs either free or a lot cheaper. However, after speaking to someone it became clear that the only way to solve the problem was to get a completely new phone. Asking why this was the case as this seemed extremely wasteful due to the fact the component that needed changed was no wider than a centimetre, it was due to the “design of the phone”, however newer models allow for a repair. Not completely buying this as there are many places that advertise repairs for this exact problem, yet I went ahead with their advice and got a replacement phone.

Situations like this can make it harder as a conscientious consumer to shop and choose items when retailers and manufacturers aren’t allowing for repairs and spare parts. When coming across situations like this it is evident that we still have some crinkles to iron out, however on the bright side there has been some progress, and since we’re ending the year let’s look to the progress that’s been made and the positives.

Repairability is thankfully a lot more popular, when Samsung asked their consumers if they would give up their favourite brand for another for another more repairable product 80% said they would. In fact for a while now we’ve been turning our backs on the throw away culture and looking to change the way we consume, a YouGov poll found that 30% of people in the UK who had to throw an electrical item away only did so after failing to get it repaired. Image if we could reduce our electrical waste by 10%, the good that could do would be phenomenal.

Although it’s taken many a nudge manufacturers are getting on board just as much as consumers, Microsoft has committed to making their products more repairable, Samsung has promised to make more parts available to the public, and although they’re maybe make slow progress at least Apple have introduced a new repair scheme within the past couple weeks. Their new self-repair service allows you to purchase the parts and view online tutorials so you can do it yourself, this is a great start making repairability accessible and more affordable, unfortunately this service does only apply to new iPhone models and some MacBook owners, although some repairs may be rather tricky at least there are ways to expand the lifespans of your products.

This big nudge for manufacturers has come in the form of the Right to Repair Bill, and although it isn’t perfect (yet), it really has got the ball rolling on repairability and helping to edge us a little closer to a circular economy. We could bolster this even more by ensuring many more products are included within it, and that spare parts don’t cost an arm and a leg, for example if your dishwasher breaks the spare part shouldn’t cost almost the same as a new dishwasher.

There are many examples that mending not ending is the way to go, for example Levi jeans offer a tailor shop where you can send your unintentionally ripped jeans away to get repaired, they even have a whole website dedicated to showing customers how they can extend the lifespan of their product as well as personalise it and alter it. This is so important right now with the costs of everything soaring our ability to repair our possessions and keep them in good working order is imperative. Levi aren’t the only fashion company to offer better services, fast-fashion company Zara has just launched their Repair, Resell and Donate service. Customers can browse and sell pre-owned Zara garments, organise a repair for any of their clothes, regardless of the brand, and organise a home collection for any unwanted clothing item. Of course this doesn’t exonerate Zara from some of their unethical manufacturing practices, or their continued the narrative of fast fashion by selling tops for £5 but it’s definitely a great start and could really change peoples thinking about the high street and their responsibility as a consumer as well as the place they’re buying it from.

There are so many great examples of ethical shops and manufacturers, some that would make great Christmas gifts, but it’s also good to know that some of our most trusted and popular brands are also taking the right steps forward, making Christmas shopping that little more guilt and headache free. Plus I’m pretty sure Santa and his elves are big fans of repairing.

Although it is easy to get caught up on the ever-growing list of issues that need solved it’s always good to step back and reflect on the progress that’s already been made, especially at the end of the year when we’re starting to think of the new year ahead, and what it might hold for us. No matter the topic it’s always a good idea to approach it with hope, so we’re ready to fight the fight next year.

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you have time to relax and reflect, and we’ll see you in the New Year.

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