We have talked a lot about the need for a circular economy that keeps returning items, or the materials from which they’re manufactured, to the system to be used again and again, instead of the mostly linear economy we currently have in which items are manufactured, used and then disposed of. One of the key problems with our current system is that many items are designed to be used only once and thrown away. Many other items are no longer designed to last for a long time and when they stop working they can be difficult to repair. This week, we talked about resources for keeping existing items going as long as possible so we can use what we have instead of buying something new.
Much of our system encourages us to just buy a new item when something breaks, but in addition to being sustainable, it can be gratifying to fix it and keep it going. The Hacksburg makerspace runs appliance repair, electronics, and woodworking classes to help people learn how to repair and maintain things on their own. Hacksburg is a non-profit makerspace started in 2014. It’s a community workshop focused on enabling creatives and entrepreneurs in the NRV to complete projects that would otherwise be out of reach. Whether you need equipment, mentorship, or just some space to work, Hacksburg is meant to be an accessible, collaborative, and affordable resource for building anything from rockets to robots to rocking chairs. Their first post-COVID Open House is Sunday, August 8, 2021, so you can visit and find out what they’re all about.
Our community is stronger when neighbors make a practice of helping each other.
The New River Valley TimeBank helps connect people to exchange skills and services, using time rather than dollars. When a member provides one hour of service for someone, they earn one Time Credit. They can then spend this Time Credit by receiving an hour of service from someone else. Some of the exchanges being offered and requested are mending and other repairs. Pre-COVID, the TimeBank also organized Repair Cafes in partnership with the Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley ReStore. They assembled people with a variety of repair skills, from sewing to small appliances to furniture repair, who provided their services at no cost to the public. They’re planning to restart these events in the future and we will share that information when they do. In the meantime, by joining the TimeBank you can gain access to the skills offered by other members to get some of your items repaired. Or, if you are skilled at repairs yourself you can offer those skills to others.
Sustainable Blacksburg’s Repair and Restore Directory
It can be difficult to locate information about businesses that offer repairs for items you might be tempted to just replace instead, so we are trying to help out by establishing a Repair and Restore Directory on our website. We have been gleaning this information through our own queries and questions asked by others through local Facebook and other groups and would appreciate if you would let us know of other businesses or related resources. We’re not trying to leave anyone out and we’re not specifically recommending any of these, just trying to provide a place to start to get things repaired instead of throwing them away. We think home and auto repair resources are readily available so are not trying to address those.
The Right To Repair Movement
Some companies don’t want us to be able to fix the items we bought from them ourselves. Sometimes you have to send it back to them for repair and sometimes, “planned obsolescence” means you just have to replace it. The Right to Repair movement is trying to change this dynamic and helped lead to a recent Presidential Executive Order to try to give consumers more ability to repair our own items. Try to keep things going and circulating in the economy as long as possible before buying something new and hopefully change is coming to make it easier. You can learn more here.
State of Repair is Motherboard’s exploration of DIY culture, device repair, ownership, and the forces fighting to lock down access to the things you own.
DIY Repair Guides
Sometimes a repair is simple but you may need a little instruction. If you prefer to DIY your own repairs, iFixIt offers free “Repair guides for every thing, written by everyone.”
We would love to hear about your repair experiences, whether you patronized a local business, the TimeBank’s repair cafe or did it yourself. Please help encourage others that it’s worth repairing rather than automatically replacing.
Week 19 starts tomorrow! Join us as we talk about utilizing shared community resources and next weekend, visit our booth at Steppin’ Out to share your favorite community resource. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to see daily updates.