A drawer full of tights with a ladder? Do not throw them away, but pull two over each other. A broken dryer: YouTube is full of explanation videos. Instead of throwing away all your broken things on the ever-growing mountain of waste, we can get to work ourselves. Or can we not?
"How nice is it to get started with needle and thread, so that your favorite item of clothing can last for years? Or can you get your coffee machine that has been loyal to you for years to work again," said SIRE, Stichting Ideële Advertising that wants to get people repaired. We throw a lot away. In the Netherlands, we produce almost 490 kilos of waste per person per year.
Plastic production has grown from 1.5 million tonnes in 1950 to 322 million tonnes in 2015 worldwide and recycling is slow: 30 percent of all plastic waste produced is collected for recycling and half of it is going abroad.
Relax and buy again
Moreover, we are in the middle of a de-trend, which was recently made measurable by Kees Baldé, statistical researcher at CBS and member of a UN think tank. He investigated it at the request of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. An army house sparks joy, as cleaning guru Marie Kondo would say. But all the things that are taken away to empty the house end up in the meantime simply in the garbage or in overcrowded thrift stores.
"I suspect the industry of deliberately manufacturing things moderately" Martijn Lensink, repairer at Repair Café
We bring more stuff to the thrift store, Baldé observes, but buy just as much in return. This is due to product innovations that succeed each other quickly. Consumers no longer use their products while they are not technically 'used up'. We want the latest model of a product, Baldé says, and people buy faster than they discard. As a result, household ownership only increases.
Senseo devices everywhere due to production error
And therefore, the Repair Café where Martijn Lensink carries out repairs is full of Senseo devices. There is a production error in it, says Lensink, so that the float no longer works after a while. For some it is a relief: finally nice coffee again, and throw it away. Many end up in thrift stores and a small group takes such a device to a Repair Café, according to the repairman (and sociologist).
The Repair Cafe celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. They are free of charge meetings that revolve around repairing things together. Tools and materials are available to carry out repairs, there are handy repairers such as Lensink. You do the repair together. This way the owner of the broken stuff also learns something.
About 75 percent of all things that are brought are made again, says Lensink. "So many Senseo appliances, but also vacuum cleaners, broken clothing, bicycles, large espresso machines. Recently we have also sharpened knives and scissors. Apparently we meet a huge need, because there are even rows. People just don't know what they are with a blunt knife. "
We miss the scissor sleigh
With the disappearance of the scissor sleigh, also the high-quality items disappeared, Lensink believes. "Sometimes we get kitchen machines that are sixty years old. They are easy to disassemble and easy to repair. A three-year-old kitchen machine is completely stapled or welded, and the parts must all be screwed open with another screwdriver. They have people of course not in the house. I suspect the industry of deliberately manufacturing things moderately, so that they quickly break down and the consumer has to buy new things again. "
We want to be sustainable, but we also want to buy. This week, Statistics Netherlands published the latest figures on consumer behavior: Dutch people spent 5.8 percent more on durable goods in September. We mainly spent more on home furnishings and household appliances. The growth in spending on durable goods was the largest in more than a year.
It is time, says Lensink of the Repair Cafe, that governments are going to make demands on products. "Products are hardly repairable."
Anyone who wants to prevent his or her belongings from having to break down must do their own effort, Lensink says. "Sometimes people bring a broken vacuum cleaner with a black, dirty air filter. Have you ever replaced it, I ask. Huh, is the response, I didn't know it had a filter!" You need to lubricate devices, replace filters, learn to brush, and replace batteries. "For the past two years we have been keeping a database of the things that are brought. In this way we hope to see in a certain time which brand and which type of product will break the fastest."
Get started yourself?
- Provide spare parts. If you throw away a device because it is really broken, cut the plug and the switch off. Then you do not have to go to the Gamma for a next repair for a switch of four euros. Make a box full of spare parts such as screws, lights, plugs, wheels, et cetera.
- Read the instructions for use of your product and also follow the maintenance tips.
- Put your bike inside.
- A selection from the lively exchange of repair and maintenance tips on social media: you can keep a leather sofa nice and supple by wiping it off with baby wipes and a too cold coat to warm up again with the sleeves of an old sweater in the to sew sleeves. Grease your leather shoes with beeswax and they will last much longer. Save the screw caps of pan lids, if one breaks.
- The Repair Cafés are free and there are hundreds of them in the Netherlands
- Lubricate your machines with a few drops of oil and they will last much longer