Issues > Electronics > People > Right to Repair
Right to Repair
Right to repair refers to a consumer's ability to repair the products they own themselves or by taking it to an independent repairer. There are many ways companies limit repairability, usually for the sake of turning a profit. One method is called planned obsolescence, where products are designed with an artificially limited useful life, forcing customers to replace their products more often. Other anti-repair strategies include blocking and locking third-party parts, designing unrepairable products, pairing parts to the motherboard, and restricting access to parts, tools, and manuals.
There are many negative consequences to these business practices, such as encouraging wastage, environmental damage, and causing financial stress for consumers. Electronic parts are often toxic to the environment and their materials are rare in the first place. Another major issue, especially when the product is needed for one's livelihood, is that it takes control of one's life away from them and into the hands of large companies. This last point is particularly true for the agricultural industry, where repairing one's own farming tools is becoming more and more impossible. Luckily, change is on its way, and there are many ways you can participate in it.
Repair cafes have been popping up worldwide since 2009. These are community meeting places where people learn how to repair everyday items from clothing to bicycles to electronics. You can also buy and sell second-hand to extend a products life, rather than giving in to planned obsolescence. Apple, previously one of the worst offenders, has committed to providing customers with access to genuine parts, tools, and manuals to assist with self-service repair. Finally, minimise the need for repairs in the first place by spending your money on goods which have long lives and can more easily be repaired.
Find your closest repair cafe, where volunteers show you how to fix your own stuff. Australian Repair Network has a helpful map of repair cafes around Australia (at the bottom of the linked webpage).
Find repair guides for everything from electronics and appliances to clothing and cars at iFixit.
If you can't repair something yourself, hire an independent repairer.
Support companies that are committed to making long lasting durable products which facilitate self-service repairs or repairs from independent repairers. You can use repairability ratings provided by websites like iFixit to help.