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BALTIMORE -- With home electronics in heavy use during the ongoing pandemic, Maryland PIRG released a report Wednesday detailing just how much families can save by repairing electronic products instead of replacing them. Entitled “Repair Saves Families Big,” this new analysis, which was produced in conjunction with our Right to Repair campaign, also looks at spending habits and the importance of a strong repair economy.
“Repair provides us with an opportunity to breathe new life into our old and broken devices,” said Rishi Shah, Maryland PIRG Associate. “Instead of buying new gadgets every time our old ones give us trouble, we should turn to our communities to meet our repair needs. This approach is what’s best for both our society and our pocketbooks.”
“Right to Repair is a fundamental issue of consumer protection and environmental protection. If we are serious about a sustainable future, and if we don’t want to be a throwaway society, then we must have access to repair,” said state Delegate Jessica Feldmark, who plans to introduce Right to Repair legislation in the Maryland General Assembly in January.
Specifically, Maryland households could save $330 per year by repairing our electronics on our own or going to independent repair shops, according to the report’s analysis. This adds up to a total savings of $735 million across the state. This number may seem staggering, but so is how much we spend on new devices. As of 2019, American households spend approximately $1,480 annually purchasing new electronic products.
“Many of my customers are shocked to find out that most repairs can be done in under 30 minutes and cost a fraction of the price of a new device,” said Juvix Justin White, owner of Juvix the Tech Guy, a technology repair shop based in Baltimore. “If the general public knew how easy it was to repair their devices, my customer base would explode.”
Repair is not only good for our pocketbooks, but is also better for our planet. When we replace our electronics, we retire our old devices to landfills where they can leak such toxic heavy chemicals as lead, mercury, and cadmium. With American families generating about 176 pounds of electronic waste each year, Americans are big contributors to the fastest growing waste stream in the world.
Beyond aiding the environment and saving families’ money, seeking out neighborhood repair shops also supports the local economy. Instead of looking to overseas manufacturers to carry out repairs, an increased reliance on local repair businesses can provide jobs for community members, decrease the out-of-pocket cost of repair, and increase the speed of service.
“Relying on the manufacturer for repairs means waiting days or weeks after shipping your device to some remote factory location,” said White. “At a local repair business like mine, you can speak directly with the technician repairing your device and get direct insight in a matter of minutes.”
Repair is critical to keeping our electronic products functional without breaking our budgets. Unfortunately, manufacturers often elbow out independent repair by limiting access to the tools, parts and manuals we need to repair our devices, the report explains. In doing this, they limit the capacity for creating resilient communities that quickly recover from global disruptions.
“We’ve spoken to many repair shop owners who have been forced to turn away customers because they did not have the correct tools or parts,” added Shah. “These devices could have been easily repaired if manufacturers committed to what’s best for customers, local businesses and our communities.”
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