Today is International Repair Day. And everybody can fix things! iFixit, the largest online repair community, provides people with free support to repair all different kinds of broken devices such as cameras, phones, computers, lights and much more. “If we could double the useful life of the devices we consume, we could cut the amount of e-waste in half”, underlines Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit. “Imagine if everyone in the world had free access to repair information. How many more things would people fix?”
Due to the increasing global consumption of electronics, more than 20 million tons of e-waste are produced every year. Most of it is shipped to Africa and China where 160 million electronic devices are discarded each year. Tons of electronics are thrown away because people don’t know how to fix them. A cell phone has an average life spam of 18 months only. The waste electronics that end up in landfills are containing toxic chemicals such as arsenic, lead, and poly-brominated flame retardants. The waste electronics are polluting drinking water and harming ecosystems around the world. Even if the products are recycled, about 30 % of electronic material cannot be recovered.
Therefore the hardware obsolescence needs to be stopped. “We are writing a free step by step repairmanual for every device”, Wiens outlines. "This is a monumental Wikipedia-scale task. We are manufacturing new kinds of devices at an unprecedented pace and if we don’t act now we will lose the opportunity to fix these devices while they still have economic value. But like many big, hard problems, this is also something that we must do. Something that we can do. We need help from people all over the world.”
The problem is that some huge manufacturers don’t support the repair of their products anymore. Because every gadget is different, it is harder to figure out the problem. “We have the right to repair everything we own”, is the message of iFixit: “Defend your right to repair. We have the right to fix our own things or choose which service shop to use.” While some manufacturers consider repair information as proprietary and want to shut down independent repair shops, other companies are more supportive when it comes to repair products. “I can imagine a future where technology is a sustainable part of our lives”, concludes Wiens, “empowering us all to work together to make the world a better place.”