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Repair Café Saw Community Members Get Broken Belongings Fixed for Free, Advocates Call for ‘Right to Repair’ Law

Fixing Instead of Replacing Devices Could Save Californians Over $5 Billion a Year. Advocates say a new bill would help.

Published on Monday, April 3, 2023 | 6:28 am

On Saturday, consumer groups, business owners, and Pasadena Councilmember Felicia Williams joined community members to celebrate the ‘Right to Repair’ at the Pasadena Repair Café. During the event, the public brought in their broken electronics, appliances, lamps, jewelry, toys, bikes and more to be fixed free of charge while advocates called for state reforms to make repair easier. 

“The rate at which we are buying and trashing electronics is staggering,” said Sander Kushen, a Consumer Advocate with CALPIRG. “There is a really simple solution: Fix things instead.”

At the event, CALPIRG released a new report “Repair Saves Families Big II,” which finds that consumers can save hundreds of dollars just by repairing instead of replacing their electronics.

CALPIRG estimates that the average American household could save approximately $382 per year by repairing its non-functioning electronics. This means that across 13.4 million households in California, repair could save residents a total of $5.13 billion annually.

The new report updates research released two years ago (based on data from 2019), which found that American households spend approximately $1,480 annually purchasing new electronic products — appliances, phones, computers and more. The latest data (2021) shows that spending rose 19% in those two years and that the average household spends $1,767 purchasing new electronic products per year, according to CALPIRG.

The group said repair is critical to keeping electronic products functional without breaking family budgets. 

“Unfortunately, manufacturers often make it hard for the public to fix our items and elbow out independent repair by limiting access to the tools, parts and information we need to repair our devices,” CALPIRG said.

CALPIRG and other advocates at the event called on the State Legislature to pass SB 244 (Eggman), The Right to Repair Act. This legislation would allow individuals and independent repair shops to access necessary tools, parts, and manuals needed for electronic repairs. 

“Our repair volunteers often see firsthand that it is difficult to access the parts and documentation needed to make many repairs,” said Ginko Lee, a lead organizer of the Pasadena Repair Café.  “This is especially true for electronics and household appliances. SB 244 would fix this problem by expanding access to the parts we need to reliably do our jobs.”

“The rise of the repair café movement proves that lots of us would be happy to pick up our screwdrivers and fix our own things if only we had the parts, tools, and documentation we need,” said Dr. Elizabeth Chamberlain,  Director of Sustainability for the leading repair website iFixit.  “Manufacturers’ repair monopolies hurt all of us who want to fix things ourselves—and they threaten to shut down California’s independent repair shops. For less waste, more shared repair know-how, and more stuff that works, Californians need SB 244.”

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