Kyle Wiens, founder of iFixit, delivered a web-presentation this week organized by the EPA. iFixit is based on the simple premise that “Repair is a cornerstone of our environmental and economic future.” Those of us concerned about a steadily growing human population on a planet of limited size and resources naturally appreciate this understanding.
iFixit has tapped into the fact that many consumers are interested in being able to repair their own things, whether cars or cell phones, and they are more likely to develop an allegiance to a brand whose product they have been able to fix themselves. iFixit facilitates repair by making instructions and how-to videos available online, and can even provide specialized tools to make the job easier. They have also investigated the repairability of various consumer electronics, so you can weigh in advance if you ‘d rather buy a Dell tablet that you can disassemble yourself for repair, or a tightly glued together model like the iPad that could prove extra challenging.
Wiens believes we are on the cusp of a 6th wave of innovation that will emphasize resource recovery, specifically reuse and remanufacturing, over recycling. I encourage you to read his recent post online at the Harvard Business Review entitled “We’re Running Out of Resources, and It’s Going to be OK ,” where he goes into more depth about the need to transition from a linear economy to a circular economy. iFixit has joined with other companies in the Circular Economy 100, to look at ways to develop new circular economy projects.
iFixit also promotes a growing number of community collectives that support reuse (like Free Geek) that repair computers, organizations (like Maker Media, publisher of Make Magazine) that promote repairing, reusing and related hands-on creative endeavors, and sharing ventures (like Yerdle).
While doubtful that new manufacturing will enjoy a renaissance in the U.S. on a big scale, Wiens is certain that repair, reuse and remanufacturing will make better use of valuable resources while creating new types of jobs here in the U.S. From that perspective, the future of manufacturing looks bright.