Increasing digitisation means the art of repairing is dying

Often we are told that replacing a part in an electrical appliance such as a washing machine or oven

Often we are told that replacing a part in an electrical appliance such as a washing machine or oven is more expensive than just replacing it. - Credit: PA

I've noticed that you're not very faithful are you? Admit it, you've been through three of them in the last few years. Each time you got bored, goodbye, and on to the next, better option. And you're not the only one.

Our relationships with electrical items such as smart phones may be quite intense but they are certainly not long-lived. In fact, each year we dispose of a horrifying 23kg of electrical waste per person.

A recent trip to the dump (sorry, it is now of course a Community Recycling Centre) revealed many of us dropping off waste, much of it electrical.

My old laptop (which had its glory days in approximately 1999) added to the pile. It technically still worked in that it turned on and ran Word.

However it was so utterly outdated, like a diplodocus staggering into a shopping mall, that it couldn't cope with what we now consider normal requirements and had been sitting defunct in a cupboard for ages. It still felt wasteful getting rid of it.

Often we are told that replacing a part in an electrical appliance such as a washing machine or oven is more expensive than just replacing it.

The lure of the shiny, new model is hard to resist. 'I might as well,' we justify it. 'This old one will only go wrong again.'

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With items such as phones, something as simple to replace as a dying battery can prompt us to accept our next free upgrade, especially as new models are brought out so regularly. Your phone can look dated very quickly.

Not only that, but many people have noticed that certain electrical items just don't seem to be built to last anymore.

A lifespan of three years is very good going for phones and tablets before they break or can't keep up with new apps.

This has led to a culture where replacement, not repair, is the norm.

Increasing digitisation also means the art of the tinkerer is dying – not many of us feel confident opening up an electrical appliance to see if we can solder a broken join. Many people are even nervous or ignorant about how to change a fuse.

That's why I was excited to hear about the Restart project, which aims to fix our fickle relationships with electronics. It provides Restart parties where you work with volunteers to repair your broken equipment – you are learning as well as avoiding buying new items.

As ever, this movement is further ahead in London than here, but you can log on to www.therestartproject.org to find out how to host your own Restart party in our region.

Like partners, it can seem easier to just replace items when you hit problems, but putting in a little effort will result in a longer-term, more satisfying relationship.

• Kate Blincoe is the author of 'The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting: How to raise your child, help save the planet and not go mad' and is a freelance writer. Follow Kate on Twitter @Kateblincoe.

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