Written by Elisabeth Gick 

Saws buzzing, sewing machines whirring, people laughing, what’s going on?

A fix-it clinic! Roughly once a month Boulder Public Library in connection with EcoCycle offers free fix-it clinics. People of all ages come together with their broken, torn or ripped toys, small kitchen gadgets, wearables and other items in need of fixing. Being a Zero Waste fanatic myself these are my people! Friendly folks with skills that I don’t have or forgot, with tools I don’t need to own, and enough time for the task at hand help me mend a mitten or my badminton racket. There are moms sowing ears back onto teddy bears, teenagers fixing broken bracelets, and some who just need access to certain tools. 

Other libraries have caught on to the idea. Denver public library offers fix-it clinics regularly. You could suggest the concept to your library if you want to see it happen there; or get folks with the right skills together and organize your own. 

The end result is a triple positive: you have a serviceable item, spent an afternoon in fun company and maybe learned a new skill; you lessened the waste of energy spent on producing, shipping and marketing new consumer goods; you kept one more item out of the landfill.

Of course, pretty quickly each one of us amateur repair(wo)men runs up against the built-in obsolescence of certain items: Apple does not want you to fix that iPhone 5; at best, they want to repair it themselves, at their set price, but more realistically, they want you to buy their newest version of phone. So you throw the old one away. Your discarded phone will join 6,600 other cell phones that Coloradans dispose of EVERY DAY, contributing to a waste stream of 141 million cell phones tossed out nationally each year. If we want to get to a circular economy we have to stand up for our right to repair everything.

CoPIRG and Colorado Right to Repair are leading that battle. Allison from CoPIRG let me know that the Right to Repair bill has just recently been introduced! It’s HB20-1195 Consumer Digital Repair Bill of Rights with bi-partisan support. The bill has been assigned to the Business Affairs and Labor Committee and will be heard on March 4 at 1:30 pm. According to the Right to Repair website, Right to Repair requires manufacturers to provide owners and independent repair businesses with fair access to service information and affordable replacement parts. So you can fix the stuff you own. We already have right to repair for cars—that’s why you can take your Ford into a local mechanic. They have all the same software diagnostics and service manuals that the dealerships have.

please sign the petition for support here, and call or email your legislators as well as the legislators on the Business Affairs and Labor Committee. 

It’s another step in the right direction.

PS:  Kudos to Patagonia for starting a new trend with Worn Wear; competitor REI is following right behind with REI good and used. They do the cleaning and mending for us, yay!


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