Dare to repair?

Three ways to help fix Bristol’s waste problem

When products stop working, they often get thrown away or sent for recycling without any attempt to repair them. Repairing broken things could help save you money by reducing the need to buy replacements, and reduce the environmental impact that making new products has on our natural resources.

New legislation on the “Right to Repair” will legally oblige manufacturers to make spare parts for products available to consumers, so repair is going to get easier. Below are three questions you should ask yourself before recycling or throwing away any broken items: Could you fix it yourself? Do you need help to fix it? And, if it can’t be fixed, could you repurpose or upcycle it?

Read on for tips to help you get started if you dare to repair.

Can you fix it yourself?

DIY repairs are not as daunting as they may seem. The first step is to work out the cause of the problem: check simple things first like fuses, batteries, bulbs, and seals which could simply need replacing, or things like brushes or filters which may just need a clean.

There are lots of resources available to help you identify the problem and try fixing it yourself:

  • Which? have compiled a list of the most common faults found in household appliances, highlighting simple fixes and when to call for professional help.
  • iFixit has hundreds of online repair guides for IT equipment, phones, appliances, clothes and vehicles. They also rate the latest smartphones, tablets and laptops on repairability.
  • The Restart Project helps people learn how to repair broken electronics and rethink how items are consumed.
  • Youtube is full of tutorials and step-by-step walkthroughs. If you choose to follow a DIY guide on Youtube, make sure you double-check the advice given and don’t attempt anything dangerous.

Access to tools

If you don’t have the particular tools you need to make the repair, try Share Bristol’s Library of Things in Kingswood. They aim to make it easier for residents to borrow and repair things by loaning out tools and equipment.

Do you need help to fix it?

Bristol Repair Cafe takes place regularly in several locations across Bristol. Skilled volunteers are on hand to help repair broken electrical items, IT equipment, furniture and clothes.

For some repairs, you may need professional help. In Bristol, there are many professional repair services for things like bicycles, clothes, furniture, IT equipment, jewellery, phones, sewing machines, shoes, watches and white goods. Search online to find the local service you need and get a quote to check the cost of the repair.

Could you repurpose or upcycle it?

If it’s not fixable as is, could it be disassembled for parts, or used for another purpose? Furniture and textiles are particularly versatile for upcycling. Whether you’re adding a layer of paint, reupholstering, or undertaking a complete reinvention, upcycling is a great way to breathe new life into old, broken items. Here are some ways to get started:

Find inspiration
If you are unsure where to start, get some inspiration from upcycling videos online. British Heart Foundation has a range of short videos showing upcycling ideas using furniture from their shops.

Learn new skills
There are lots of courses available in Bristol to learn upcycling techniques, including woodwork, upholstery, and sewing.

Gather what you need
If you don’t already have everything you need for your upcycling project, here are some places to look:

  • Community RePaint rescues reusable paint and redistributes or remanufactures it. There are several places in Bristol where you can buy their paint including our Reuse Shop in Avonmouth.
  • Children’s Scrapstore runs a large warehouse full of varied, colourful and abundant scrap materials, fantastic for creative upcycling projects.
  • Bristol Wood Recycling Project stock a huge selection of reclaimed wood to suit any carpentry job, with a cutting service available to get the right size.

Share your #WasteNothing ideas with us

Have you tried any of these ideas? Show us your repair, repurposing or upcycling projects on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #WasteNothing

Electric Avenue

In November 2021, we’re calling on all Bristol households to have a search in drawers, cupboards, and boxes to see if you can uncover any long-forgotten electricals. Environmental charity Hubbub will then be testing them for safety and rehoming them in Electric Avenue, a temporary pop-up hub in Bristol City Centre.


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