Right To Repair could end the “throwaway” culture that many around the world have adopted when it comes to consumer electronics. Throwaway culture is broader than tech, indicating a cultural habit to use something once and then throw it away, whether it’s a phone, laptop, straw, or person. (Yes, people use and throw each other away, too.) Many have become critical of this habit, and some are working to address the problem.
New regulations in cities across the UK are popping up in response to a worldwide movement called “Right to Repair.” This has birthed several citizen repair workshops in the UK and inspired a plan that is being presented by the European Commission as well.
Proposals aim to make more environmentally friendly products the norm — such as using screws to hold parts in place instead of glue (so that consumers can get access to what’s underneath). The idea is to reduce the impact on our environment and climate from throwaway culture.
Another thing these new regulations address is premature or planned obsolescence, which Apple and other companies incorporate — they intentionally make things that will break or have a relatively short lifespan, forcing consumers to upgrade to new models. The European Environment Bureau (EEB) said that, “The strategy is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we manufacture, use, and dispose of our products in a way that benefits people and the planet.”
Other issues the EU is trying to address: food waste, over-packaging, and microplastic pollution.
“Other recommendations under the proposals, known as the Circular Economy Action Plan, are:
- increasing recycled content in products
- reducing the impact of products on the climate and environment
- providing incentives for a new type of consumer use where producers keep the ownership of the product or the responsibility for its performance throughout its lifecycle — similar to car leasing”
I make jewelry. What I do for my jewelry customers is — if the piece breaks, I give free repairs. Many other artists would charge to do that, but I believe that it is my responsibility to ensure my customers get the best, even if that means I have to fix it for them. It’s how I would want to be treated, and Daryl, my mentor who taught me jewelry making, had that same policy. He also taught me to recycle my scraps (whether copper, silver or gold) and to never throw them away. These are practices that could have a major impact if implemented at large companies on a large scale.
Whether you are an artist like me or you are the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company, we all have to do our parts in making this world a better place for ourselves, families, friends, and future generations. Before you throw something away, think about other ways you could use it. Let’s end throwaway culture.