'Right to Repair': Fixing Our Own Broken Stuff Should Be Standard
The workplace of the inventor's technique. The hands of the worker are bound by a chain as a symbol of the prohibition on repair. Andrey Bukreev / iStock / Getty Images Plus
When our smartphones, televisions or other gadgets stop working, it seems like the only choice we have is to get rid of it. This never-ending stream of electronic waste has created mountains of toxic trash that's hazardous to people and the planet.
That's why consumers and lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe are fighting back under the burgeoning "Right to Repair" movement that demands manufacturers make products that last longer and are easier to fix, BBC News reported.
At least 18 U.S. states are considering repair legislation and a similar proposal arose in European Parliament. States that have introduced "Right to Repair" bills include California, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia.
This change can't come soon enough. E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. In 2016, some 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated globally, according to the Global E-waste Monitor 2017 (pdf). As more and more products come along, experts forecast an increase of e-junk to 52.2 million metric tonnes by 2021.
In March, California Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman introduced the "California Right to Repair Act" that would require manufacturers to release diagnostic and repair instructions, and make equipment or service parts available to product owners and to independent repair shops.
The bill was introduced just a handful of months after Apple was accused of slowing down older iPhones—a move that led some users to spend hundreds of dollars on new phones rather than simply replace the battery. That's not to mention that Apple makes their phones very difficult to crack open, making it hard to DIY a fix. (Apple apologized and offered a discount for battery replacement.)
"We should be working to reduce needless waste—repairing things that still have life—but companies use their power to make things harder to repair. Repair should be the easier, more affordable choice and it can be, but first we need to fix our laws," said Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG, in a press release in support of the California bill. "Our recent survey, Recharge Repair, showed a surge in interest in additional repair options after Apple announced battery issues. The Right to Repair Act would give people those options."
Environmentalists say "Right to Repair" legislation will save resources and reduce carbon emissions from the manufacturing of new products. The New York Times pointed out that in Apple's latest sustainability report (pdf), each new Apple device produced emits an average of 90 kilograms of CO2.
Libby Peake from the UK-based think tank Green Alliance told BBC News "that at last politicians are waking up to an issue that the public have recognized as a problem for a long time."
Right to Repair laws make a lot of sense for our wallets and the environment, but manufacturers are opposed to the legislation.
Tech giants, including Apple and Microsoft, do not like users fixing their own devices because it could be a security risk to the user, according to the Verge. It's also very likely that these companies want us to keep buying more stuff.
Britain's Prince William interviewed famed broadcaster David Attenborough on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.
During the sit-down, the 92-year-old naturalist advised the world leaders and business elite gathered in Davos this week that we must respect and protect the natural world, adding that the future of its survival—as well as humanity's survival—is in our hands.
What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.
By Matthew Savoca
Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.
Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.
"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"
Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.
The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.
Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.
Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.
By Andrea Germanos
Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.
By Patrick Rogers
If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.