The Right to Repair

“You bought it, you should own it. Period. You should have the right to use it, modify it, and repair it wherever, whenever, and however you want. Defend your right to fix.”

This is part of the “Repair Manifesto” that underlies the work of ifixit, an open source repair manual and community that believes consumers should be allowed – and empowered – to repair what is theirs. The direct and subtle ways in which manufacturers have manipulated products and markets to prevent this are shocking – for example, Apple created a special screw specifically to make it hard to repair the iPhone.

Ifixit has drafted a “consumer bill of rights” and encourages its U.S.-based community members to push for legislative reform in this area. But in the meantime, they also share information about which companies support DIY repair, and which don’t support or even actively work against it.

As consumers, we have (at least) two kinds of power in this situation.

First, we have our purchasing power. We can spend money to buy things from companies that will help us in our collective journey of sending less waste to landfills, and making our own treasured stuff last as long as it possibly can. We can spend money at local repair shops, and support businesses that extend the life of things we already paid to own.

Second, we have the power to learn to repair. Today’s online world is replete with tutorials and how-to videos for basically anything you can think of – including repairs, upcycling ideas, and DIY inspiration. Many of us don’t necessarily think of ourselves as “handy” – but there’s no reason we can’t be. Empowering ourselves and taking charge of understanding how our stuff works and how it could work better is an important part of taking ownership of our consumer – and waste – habits.

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