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Repair becomes the fourth r of environmentalism

Repair becomes the fourth r of environmentalism

By Alex Fernandez Muerza

Do it and repair it yourself

Faced with "throwaway" or products that quickly become obsolete, more and more people are opting for "do it yourself" or "fix it". Some are even organized into movements such as "Maker" or "Fixer". Making something with your own hands or fixing it lengthens the life of products, saves money and reduces their environmental impact. In addition, these people exercise the body and mind, they feel useful and not just passive consumers.

Faced with "throwaway" or products that quickly become obsolete, more and more people are opting for "do it yourself" or "repair"

The "Maker" movement has its origin in 2005. Dale Dougherty, creator of the term "web 2.0" and responsible for the editorial O´Reilly Media, published ‘Make:‘, a magazine focused on "DIY" projects ( Do it yourself, do it yourself). The following year, the "Maker Faires" (Maker Fairs), which bring together the followers of this emerging movement.

A paradigmatic case is that of Doe kelvin. This 15-year-old has built in his country, Sierra Leone (Africa), a self-taught radio station with the materials he has found around him. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) He invited him to visit the center, and in a video he tells his story.

Today, thousands of people in cities around the world participate as makers assets or as visitors amazed at the wonders that can be done with little money and a lot of imagination. Barcelona and Bilbao host the first Maker fairs in Spain.

Chris Anderson, editor of the influential tech magazine ‘Wired’, dedicates his latest book to these people, in which, from the same title, he makes clear his opinion about the importance of the concept: ‘Makers: The New Industrial Revolution‘ (Makers, the new industrial revolution).

The idea is not new, but at present it is gaining strength in a society where the economic and environmental problem of waste, specifically technological waste, is growing.

From "Maker" to "Fixer"

For its part, the "fixers" they put the emphasis on repairing or updating products to avoid throwing them away. The problem extends to all current consumer products, although new technologies are one of the clearest cases. Computers, or mobile phones, are becoming obsolete faster and faster even if they do not break down. In addition, a small breakdown may mean that they are no longer useful because they are not supposed to be worth fixing.

The "fixers" rebel against this situation and look for a way to extend the life of the products. Some of them have started to organize. The Repair Café collective It emerged in 2007 in Amsterdam promoted by the Dutch journalist Martine Postma. The idea is to organize free events to bring people together to share knowledge and reduce costs, so that it is worth fixing rather than throwing away. Appliances, furniture, bicycles, etc., any object is welcome. The initiative has grown into an international network and foundation that organizes regular events in countries around the world.

In Brooklyn, New York, the collective "Fixer" meets once a month in an art gallery. They invite their neighbors to take all the objects originally destined for the trash. Most of the time they manage to fix them.

Internet also helps. More and more people are encouraged to explain how to fix things on their web pages, where they offer all the details with text and images and even video tutorials. Some even create specific websites to help repair, like iFixit.

Consumers, keys against obsolescence

The so-called "planned obsolescence" it jumped to the public opinion by ‘Buy, throw, buy‘. This documentary argues that consumer products last less and less because companies design and manufacture them that way to sell more.

Various experts argue that this concept is not real. José Ramón Carbajosa, CEO of the Ecolec Foundation and president of the WEEE-Forum, affirms that in any case there is a functional or technological obsolescence, because consumers want to enjoy the novelties and park old models even if they work. Therefore, it appeals to consumers to be aware of their purchase decisions. Hugo Pardo Kuklinski, Professor of Digital Communication at the University of Barcelona, also believes in the responsibility of consumers to overcome this premature obsolescence. One way to combat it in his opinion would be by buying more expensive items but designed to last longer, and that could be shared to reduce expenses.

Ultimately, if consumers demand other types of products, companies will have to adapt. This is also seen by the defenders of ecodesign, or ecological design of consumer products. And because it is also beneficial for everyone: good ecological design reduces environmental impact and generates economic benefits.

Consumer Eroski


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