I remember on my very first visit to New York, about 100 years ago (not really!) my brother-in-law, resident in Greenwich Village, spoke about the lack of watch repairers in the city. ‘No one repairs their watches anymore,’ he remarked. Except for the hugely priced luxury brand timepieces, Tag Heuer, Rolex and the ilk. Ordinary watches, if broken, were simply disposed of and replaced.
The sheer wastefulness of this was staggering to a young South African travelling on the then, shocking, 3 ZAR to $1 exchange rate. Back home in Joburg, shabby little shops catering to shoe, bag, watch, appliance repair abounded and throwing away a kettle, let alone a watch, was unheard of.
Fast forward to 2017 and we ourselves live in a similar society. Technology is designed to be disposable rather than fixed and the cost to repair a large appliance (fridge and so on) is often eye watering and initiates a discussion on whether we wouldn’t be better off buying new with a warranty. How many clothes needing new zips or some invisible mending are thrown away rather than taken to a tailor?
The link below takes you to a wonderful article about a shop in Edinburgh, called the Remakery. Sophie Unwin was inspired by the culture of repair and stewardship she found on a trip to Nepal. Clocking that our disposable, throwaway society has lost the skills to fix things, she returned home and founded a business that teaches people repair skills and sells these refurbished items. An important point of the initiative is that these repair skills are rapidly disappearing and need to be passed on sooner rather than later.
Sophie envisions changing social attitudes to repairing rather than dumping broken goods, and pushing manufacturers to build goods to last and to be repairable.This would include a spare parts sales business, as anyone who’s tried to replace a part on an appliance will appreciate being able to buy these products. My 20 month old mobile phone was referred to by a chuckling young Vodacom assistant as ‘obsolete’ when I wanted to buy a new cover for it recently. ‘No, we don’t keep stock of accessories for such old items.’ Grrrrr.
Please read the short article below and put your mind to work. I believe that White River has the skills, the initiative and the space to seriously consider establishing something like this here. Talk to your neighbour, your colleagues, the retired gentleman or lady you meet in the coffee shop. How can we set up a Remakery in White River?