Environment

Repair Week 2024: There's a simple way to save over £450 per year – start fixing stuff

Londoners discarded nearly £2 billion worth of repairable items last year, new research has revealed – wasting over £250 per person.

man fixing computer motherboard with screwdriver for Repair Week 2022

Approximately 19 million electrical items are currently in need of repair in London. (Image: Repair Week)

Londoners wasted nearly £3bn worth replacing repairable items last year, new research has revealed – wasting more than £450 per person.

It seems hard to fix stuff. Maybe your phone is glitching out. Or your freezer is on the fritz. Or your wheelie chair won’t spin. Unfortunately, whatever it is you need repaired, it can feel easier to simply buy a replacement.

But new analysis has revealed the staggering financial cost of our throwaway culture.

Censuswide research – commissioned by London Recycles – shows that Londoners discarded an estimated £1.9bn worth of repairable items last year, an average of £269.42 per adult in London. This is a £100m increase from a similar survey commissioned by the campaign a year ago.

On average, the capital’s residents forked out an average of £459.80 to replace these damaged or broken items that could have been repaired – totalling £3bn overall.

Why does stuff break so easily?

In the modern world, stuff is often built to break. If it’s difficult to fix something, it’s more likely you’ll simply buy a new one – generating profit for the manufacturer.

But the ecological footprint of our buy-and-chuck culture is huge. Brits throw out approximately 70 million homeware items every single year, a mountain of waste worth some £2.2bn. We produce an eye watering 25kg of e-waste per person per annum. Meanwhile, ultra-cheap fast fashion brands encourage endless consumption.

Some jurisdictions are clamping down on this practise. The EU has proposed rules forcing manufacturers to offer customers repairs within 10 years of purchase. They also have to make their products repairable by third parties – meaning you won’t have to get an expensive, highly specialised Apple part for your iPhone.

In the UK, campaigners have called for the Right to Repair, urging the government to expand UK legislation and remove barriers to DIY.

The desire for a cultural shift is “palpable,” London Recycles says. Some 73% of Londoners express a willingness to repair items themselves if the process is straightforward, their new research shows, while 71% express a desire to acquire repair skills to save money.

Accessibility remains a hurdle. Nearly two thirds (65%) of Londoners lament the scarcity of nearby repair shops, while 63% feel that there’s not enough support for repair businesses to keep them afloat on the high street.

This Repair Week  (11-17 March) is the perfect opportunity to learn, says Ali Moore, head of campaigns for London Recycles – and to support the repair sector. You can find your local repair hub here.

“Rhere are lots of simple repairs we can undertake ourselves to prolong the lifespan of bikes, clothes, furniture, and electronics. But for more complex repairs, repair experts usually offer services at a fraction of the cost of buying new – and these need to be accessible, which means we need to help the repair sector to thrive across the capital,” she said.

“There’s a clear role for repair as people continue to struggle with cost of living pressures, because it can save us money by keeping our stuff in use for longer.”

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