Fight to Repair Daily: Wednesday, October 5, 2022

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WIRED GREEN 2022: Peter Mui on Right-to-Repair

On September 28 WIRED held a conference called GREEN 2022 bringing together people fighting the climate crisis.

Peter Mui, founder of Fixit Clinic, discusses the right-to-repair movement and encourages us to fix and tinker with the products we buy instead of tossing them in landfills. He also speaks on the Fixit Clinic, where anyone can bring their broken electronics and get them repaired, with the goal of reducing waste and encouraging people to hang on to their tools and gadgets for as long as possible. (WIRED)

A New State Law Could Make It Easier to Fix Your Electronics—But It’s in Limbo

New Yorkers could soon gain unprecedented access to tools, parts, and manuals needed to fix electronics at home, or get them repaired at a local shop. That access would likely spill well beyond the Empire State, too, because the legislation proposing it would bring changes that can’t be contained to New York.

But the Digital Fair Repair Act, which sailed almost unanimously through the New York statehouse in June, is still waiting for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature. And if she doesn’t sign it by the end of the year, the bill goes back to square one.

The proposal is the first major “right to repair” bill to pass a state legislature, aiming to reverse a trend of many consumer electronics getting harder and harder to fix when they break.

Manufacturers would have to make repair materials available to consumers and to independent shops on “fair and reasonable terms” for most electronics they sell in the state. Those materials could then circulate widely, consumer advocates say.

“Information that is on the internet is available worldwide in seconds,” says Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Association, which advocates for consumers’ right to fix and alter products they’ve purchased. “Parts and physical tools will easily be shipped anywhere in the world.”

(Yahoo News)

Fair Repair Act could help spur circular economy model

Manufacturers are increasingly considering the circular economy model as a way to advance sustainability goals by making products that last longer and can be easily reused.

Several factors are driving the uptick in interest, including internal organizational motivation, consumer pressure and regulations such as New York’s Digital Fair Repair Act, which was passed in June. The bill mandates that digital electronics manufacturers make documentation, parts and tools available to third-party repair providers in a fair and reasonable time. A similar bill, the Fair Repair Act, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and House.

Change, however, takes time. For the most part, manufacturers make products in a linear model, where they are designed to be used and disposed of. Now, data shows that manufacturers are using resources at almost double the rate of what can be regenerated. Regulations like the Fair Repair Act or New York’s right-to-repair bill can spur companies to think about moving away from a linear model.

The Fair Repair Act and other regulations are part of a push toward a circular economy model, according to Susan Middleton, research director at IDC. But the concept of circularity is not new, particularly within IT, where there has always been a market for refurbished devices. (TechTarget)

Tesla Troll Fakes Letter from EPA to YouTuber Rich Rebuilds

The world has seen a handful of Tesla-swapped cars over the past few years, but not as many combustion-swapped Teslas—and probably for a good reason. That hasn’t stopped YouTubers like Rich Beniot (better known as his online moniker, Rich Rebuilds) from building a V8-swapped Model S.

Since that success, Rich and his crew have embarked on a new adventure dubbed Model D. The team obtained a wrecked Model 3 last year and has been hard at work to transplant a Cummins 4BT diesel engine under the hood, and a dually axle at the rear. There’s just one problem, according to the channel’s latest video: a letter sent by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordering them to stop building the Model 3 around the old diesel motor.

After some digging into the matter, it would appear that the letter may be nothing more than an elaborate troll meant to disrupt Rich’s project.

Salowsky says that the channel gets a lot of weird stuff sent to their PO box. While they had a feeling the letter may be a fake, the team was baffled why anyone would go through that sort of effort to forge an official letter in order to sabotage a video. He did make a potential connection to previous abuse against the channel in 2020 when Tesla fans mass-reported a video regarding Rich’s decision to sell his Tesla in favor of a gas car until the video was removed from YouTube several times but says that this type of letter does nothing to but actively work against the channel’s work to promote the need for the right to repair. (The Drive)

The fix is in: how Toronto’s Repair Café and other organizations are changing the way we reuse things

“Can I tell you a secret?” asks Wai Chu Cheng. She — along with Paul Magder and Fern Mosoff — runs Repair Café Toronto, a series of events where locals can bring broken household items to be repaired by volunteer. Cheng has observed that from time to time, Paul will collect things that are not fixable and take them home. “I think he keeps them in his basement,” she says, “and somehow he finds time to test his skills, by trying to fix those items.”

That’s what drives these fixers – some are professionals in their area of repair; others, like Paul, are hobbyists – all of whom, Cheng says, find “joy in overcoming the challenge and coming up with ways to turn something back to life using their creativity.”

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Many Torontonians remember learning about the three Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle), which came into vogue in the ecology-minded 1970s. But Repair Café Toronto, along with other local organizations like Creative Reuse Toronto and Free Geek Toronto, have been leading the charge with new Rs, for a more sustainable, circular economy.

“Recycling is now like the last resort,” Paul says. “Reuse, repair and repurpose are much more valued ways of reducing waste.” These methods, he says, help eliminate waste by extending the life cycle of products, as opposed to in a linear economy, where goods are designed to simply be thrown away.

In 2012, Cheng, who is a sustainability specialist at Seneca College, read a compelling article about the Repair Café initiative, founded in Amsterdam, which offered a barrier-free, drop-in space where visitors could bring broken household items to be fixed free of charge – and with refreshments. “I felt that this was such a great initiative,” she says. “And I thought, ‘We should try it here.”’ (The Toronto Star)