I love the sentiment. I despair sometimes at the fact that, instead of looking towards designed-for-disassembly design, plastic still rules the day, and those plastic-extruding 3D printers are seen as the new way forward.
I agree that they're a decent stopgap, but honestly, I wish that there were materials that weren't plastic that could do these things. I mean, there are, but we're some impetus and a few years from being able to commercialise bioplastics that can be consumed and broken down to base elements by soil microbiota.
Unfortunately, as with so many other things, apart from grassroots approaches previously mentioned, it will be necessary to fight with industry to get them to do something other than the cheapest thing possible for them that sells the most units. We've already seen right-to-repair legislation shot down because Apple has fancy expensive lawyers.
I feel trying to add repair culture to movements like buy local and organic and sustainable is a natural step. I feel that there might be a job in identifying makes and models, old and new, of quality gear or equipment or whatever that fit well with the repair culture ethos. Reviews of new goods would be especially helpful, as current, new sales impact sales projections and company policies more than old. If we got repair culture ethos on the radar with local, organic, sustainable, and all the movements seeking to get us to do better in whatever way, that would bring it into the public consciousness even more, start influencing their buying habits, and finally the marketing and design of companies looking to ride the next wave of change.
Then we'd get products whose individual inner workings you could inspect, and could order replacement parts online or from files from your local digital machinist (3D printed metal and whatnot). We'd also likely get more customizability of things we aren't really currently able to customize. Imagine being able to build a "clone" smartphone, electric car, drone, or whatever, just the same or easier than you would have been able to do with a PC back in the 90s, that you could build for your needs and wants.
That's my feeling anyways. But I agree with the sentiment. I also feel a much more hands-on DIY and maker culture, where average people understand much better than they might right now the inner workings of the technology that runs their lives.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
What once was common in my business, repairing an alternator, starter or master cylinder just isn't anymore, Not only do folks apparently not want to do those repairs but accessibility to the repair components from my warehouses has become difficult.
Our inability to change everything should not stop us from changing what we can.
A great place to find guides is iFixIt.com they are best known for electronics but have a pretty massive collection of repair guides for household items and vehicles. Each guide has sub-guides for specific problems.
To cultivate a repair culture people need to have access to the knowledge of how to repair so it is less daunting when the time comes to repair.
I'd start with recycling of all your appliances, electronics, etc. Anything with an electronics board, a motor, and so on. When these things "break", most of the time it is a part that you might easily replace or bypass, but you won't know until you take it apart.
This takes a "maker" mentality, so gather a few handtools (long screwdrivers, wire snips, and a "specialty bit kit"), and the next time something breaks, take it apart, down to it's individual components. What I find is, once the cover is off, you can sometimes see what needs fixing, and fix it; if this happens, it's a 2nd life for the device ... all it took was "seeing what's going on under the covers".
If it isn't fixable (you can see a "smoked" component), keep deconstructing for your reuse or recycling efforts:
- screws go into bins, and save you $5 for a small bag of screws
- motors are kept for those test "wind turbine" designs you've been thinking about, but have many other uses as well
- electronics boards go into a bin, to be desoldered later (outside)
Everything else goes into its recycling stream: metal parts into metals recycling, plastic parts into plastics recycling, wire (usually copper) can perhaps be sold by the pound to recyclers. We deconstruct every appliance that dies on our watch ... about 1/3 get 2nd lives (sometimes more), 1/3 reveals the smoking gun of a "dead, smoked component", and 1/3 is a mystery that can't be solved no matter how much harsh language is used. They all get recycled ...
For the bin of electronics boards, these can be desoldered with a vise, a heat gun, and needle-nose pliers, done outside with a facemask. Get the board hot in an area, and all the nearby components pull right out with the pliers. Pretty soon, you have bins full of components that can be used in your own maker projects ... need a chicken coop door that opens/closes automatically? Get an arduino, a breadboard, rummage through your bins for small motors and electronics components, wire it up, and you have ... a coop door that saves you $100 or more! The emptied circuit boards go to specialty electronics recyclers who harvest the metals out of the boards; or, if not wanting to desolder just yet, take the entire bin of boards to them.
Once you become a "maker", these efforts will easily supply your addiction ... no money out the door, many "new" things added to the homestead! Project ideas abound out on the 'net.
When I take my resulting very small load of trash to the dump once per month or less (most everything has been recycled, so there isn't much), I'm amazed at how many appliances & such are just sitting on the pile.
I try to be a driver of repair culture... but it is hard, and disheartening. Even reasonably priced goods these days are largely built out of plastic.
We have a little globe that lights up in the dark and shows constellations. Part of the plastic in the base snapped. I was sure it was finished, but after taking it apart and finding some hardware small enough I managed to get it together again.
What I learned from fixing it is: Things are made with marketability as the foremost priority. That means cheap and good looking. That means plastic and weak.
I think when we go to buy things with longevity in mind, our priority needs to be look at the materials used and see if you can find the screws holding it together.
Even type of plastic matters a lot. Some plastics will adhere readily to glues and epoxies, and some just melt or will not.
Another thing I've learned is that people get put off from repairs when their repairs fail. And they often fail because they used cheap repair materials - inappropriate glues, tapes, and hardware. Learning about materials is core to all of this.
Ah, on another note there are some cool things happening within this field around me:
Our library has a "Book Repair Day". You can bring one book and they will repair it, cover it, and finish it as they would a library book.
A museum in a city near by has a "Toy Doctor" event that happens every now and then, you can bring a toy and if it is repairable and parts can be found they will repair one toy for you on the day.
Seeding these ideas, or publicizing them especially through libraries, museums and other public facilities can definitely spread the culture.
Rental workshops, Maker labs, robotics classrooms, and other technology oriented spaces would also be a great place to host similar events. The more makers and repairers and tinkerers get people excited, the more people will get on the bandwagon.