2100 – Repair, Replace or Recycle?

A Swedish electronics repair company fired half its staff yesterday because people don’t want their stuff repaired anymore. This is a miniature example of a big trend.

Looking back in history, people repaired their stuff more often than buying new things. If you wanted a house, you didn’t build one from scratch, you tore down an old house. If you wanted a new shoe, you took two old halves and put them together. If you wanted a new axe, you took an old blade and fitted it to a new shaft. Of course, I’m generalizing, but there was a lot of repairing going on before.

Today, we’re in the replace phase. You can no longer fix your own car, you need to have someone build a new chip or reboot the software to get it to work, you can’t just weld it. If your food isn’t used in the first dish, you throw it away and buy new food instead of putting the food in a second dish. You can’t get a new battery for your electronic devices because it costs the same to throw away your old device and buy a new one that’s better. Today’s products don’t last as long as before and they’re designed not to last as it increases turn-over and turn-over is all that matters to coorporations.

In the future, we might recycle instead. You will throw away all the stuff you don’t need and it will be disassembled down to perhaps a molecular level and then reassembled as something new. It’s sort of a middle-way between repairing and replacing that needs efficient waste management systems but allows for a very fast redirection of society, meaning we can focus all our efforts on combating AIDS one day and cure it once and for all, and the next day we can reuse all the same resources for a new purpose.

Post Scriptum.

We can also switch to durability, but that doesn’t begin with re. Reuse and Durability. Sounds good.


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