During this panel discussion, Teresa and Maximilian (later on followed by Linda) come together creating a dialogue around the Right to Repair – discussing what impacts the latter has on topics such as sustainability, value chain, economic impacts around the world, culture, and how technology is dealt with and treated within such context.
What Do You Think Right to Repair Means and Looks Like Today?
Starting the discussion, Teressa initiates the discourse by shedding light on more that just the topic of repair and delves into the realms of care, maintenance, and healing cultures – arguing that repair holds a significant position, particularly in a localized context.
Some examples of data research supporting the concept of repair acts can be through trade and electrical repair services; other similar approaches are also seen through Tales of Care & Repair, an initiative used to collect stories of everyday repair including creating data where people upload costs of what/how they have repaired and their motivations.
On another note, there are also documentaries such as Turning the Collar, On the Nature of Things, their Repair, Care and Maintenance, which illustrates collecting stories of existing practitioners in the local communities, how their trade practices are being devalued and the need to demonstrate they are important people in our community is something that cannot be forgotten. After the collection of such data the next step would be to create declarations such as the Bristols Repair Declaration and Westmeath Declaration; which would enable genuine promotion of local repair cultures through establishing supportive measures such as tax breaks and/or other incentives facilitating sustainable implementation of repair practices.
Promoting manufacturing transparency, on the other hand, ensures that repair-friendly designs are adopted and the types of repair needed in such local context are addressed effectively; for this, a comprehensive guide outlining practical steps for the next decade is essential to successfully implement and sustain such initiatives. it is throguh carefully considering such measures that we could create meaningful and lasting impact in fostering repair cultures at the local level and eventually at a global one too.
Echoeing Teressa’s points, Maximilian emphasizes on the significance of repair as a crucial link between our possessions, their maintenance, functionality, the systematic process of production, and even political actions.
Maximilian advocates for open hardware in promoting transparency throughout the hardware industry, as it allows for discussions focusing on power dynamics and the ownership of production systems. Open hardware offers the chance to repair ones possessions, as well as contributing to the presence of open spaces such as: “makerspaces, hackerspaces, fablabs, etc…” which empower civil society to take ownership and control over objects.
Repair and open hardware spaces have the possibility to create and provide more opportunities for individuals to take charge and own up to a voice and influence in shaping their material world and eventually the future as a whole.
How Do You Feel That This Right to Repair Can Be Operationalized?
Right to Repair laws are supported by organizations like ifixit.org. In Europe, similar laws were established in 2021, with initiatives like “Restart” in London and introducing digital passports related to the Green New Deal, tailored to specific industries. However, a drawback of these laws is their limitation to certain goods; for instance, Europe focuses on laptops and smartphones, while the UK’s coverage could be more comprehensive. In France, introducing a repairability index attempts to tackle this issue. The critical question is not merely about making these laws work but, more importantly, ensuring access to spare parts and objects.
The process of enacting such laws must incentivize free markets to operate, thereby fostering a shift towards a circular economy that aligns with our actual needs. By framing the question in such a way, we can work towards a system that promotes accessibility, sustainability, and a thriving repair culture.
How Does This Impact Value Change Economic Topics?
Beyond Europe, conversations about such issue have emerged; for instace, electronic waste has become a significant concern for Ghana, as the country grapples with the influx of discarded electronic items. India, on the other hand, has been facing the adverse effects of toxic connections linked to electronic waste and partnered with Toxics Link conversation then became oriented towards action. Brazil has also encountered its own challenges, particularly thinking from an artistic and design perspective about reuse of tech and overflow and organizations such Gambiologia provides such opportunity.
Teresa states, “while I do agree that it is extremely important that as a societal level to have laws, laws don’t necessarily do much unless they are implemented” ; one must consider who is spearheading the green efforts in these countries, as they often originate from individuals living in impoverished and hazardous conditions, facing toxicity and conflict. For instance, a staggering “97% of the Indian population work in precarious and unsecured environments” as Teresa mentions. In light of these realities, it becomes imperative to reevaluate our approach to technology. This involves fostering new ways of conducting business, creating communities, and embracing open design principles to promote a more sustainable and responsible use of technology worldwide.
In this thought-provoking discussion panel, we had the privilege of hearing from Max Voigt and Teresa Dillion as they engaged in a meaningful dialogue surrounding the right to repair. Together, they shed light on the multifaceted implications of this crucial topic, exploring its profound effects on sustainability, value chains, global economies, and cultural attitudes toward technology.
Throughout the panel talk, the speakers delved into the significance of understanding and embracing the right to repair as a fundamental aspect of responsible and conscious technology use. By sharing their insights and expertise, they have contributed to a broader awareness of the need to consider the far-reaching impacts of the right to repair and its potential to shape a more sustainable and ethically conscious technological landscape worldwide. This dialogue serves as a call to action for us all to rethink our approach to technology, foster sustainable practices, and advocate for preserving our environment and resources for future generations.
Watch full talk from the 10 Years of Global Innovation Gatheing Conference held at the Henrich Böll Stiftung in June 2023.