Community Action Groups (CAG) Oxfordshire is pleased to announce the successful completion of a programme to support the set-up of new community repair projects across the county.
Among the new community repair initiatives are 9 ‘repair cafes’. These are events where people can bring along broken household items – from textiles and tools to electrical appliances – and learn how to fix them with the help of a volunteer. As well as reducing waste, these events facilitate the sharing of skills within communities and raise awareness around the social and environmental impacts of overconsumption.
Among the projects supported is the Oxford IT Bank. This project was set up during the pandemic, when reduced social contact, the shift towards home working and the closure of schools laid bare the need for electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones to support people to stay connected and be able to work and study at home.
So far, Oxford IT Bank has collected, repaired and donated over 200 devices to people in need via a range of organisations, including charities who support asylum seekers, refugees and people experiencing addiction, as well as an orphanage and several primary schools. The response from recipients of the devices has been overwhelmingly positive, with one person who received a laptop saying: “I can’t tell you how grateful I am! It means so much to me to have a laptop, as I am now able to do my coursework online for my new level 2 counselling course.”
Many of the new projects are focusing on the repair of electronic and electrical appliances such toasters, tablets and computers. The fact that many of these products are not built to last – coupled with the pressure on consumers to keep buying the latest upgrade – means that the consumption of these products has soared globally in recent decades. This is particularly true of higher-income countries such as the UK, which is now the 2nd highest producer of ‘e-waste’ per person in the world.
Producing electronic goods is a highly energy intensive process: manufacturing one mobile phone produces 55 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions (1). Electronics also require vast quantities of minerals – such as lithium and copper – many of which are mined in lower-income countries. Mining is a highly polluting industry which damages the local environment, threatens the health of nearby communities and is associated with poor working conditions.
By increasing the lifespan of electricals and electronics through repair, community repair projects are doing their bit to cut emissions, curb climate breakdown and reduce the demand for resource extraction in lower-income countries. To date, Oxfordshire community groups have repaired an impressive 4 tonnes of electricals and electronics!
CAG Oxfordshire’s support programme formed part of a wider partnership project involving Oxfordshire County Council and local ‘repair hubs’ Orinoco and Bicester Green. These partners worked together to set up an innovative library e-waste collection scheme, whereby members of the public can drop off unwanted electricals and electronics, to be collected and repaired by the repair hubs.
To find out more about the community repair movement in Oxfordshire, and how you can get involved, visit www.repaircafeoxfordshire.org.