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How to make it last longer: durability and repair

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Access to repair is a key issue that we need to focus on in order to accelerate the ecological transition. It’s an important action area for Équiterre, and we just released a vast study on access to repair for electric appliances and electronic devices.

Hot off the press, our new report, created in collaboration with experts in the field, shines a light on the fact that much remains to be done to improve access to repair.

The good news is we can all play a role. Here are three things that we can do.

1. Prioritize reuse and buy long-lasting products

As consumers, we have a role to play when making our purchase decisions. We may even decide not to buy something new at all, since the used products market provides many great options. When we buy, we should opt for durability, for products that are built to last and that can be repaired. Being able to keep our products for longer helps to reduce resource waste and extraction.

For help in choosing long-lasting products, have a look at the Produits durables website or at our report for possible solutions.

The amount of virgin natural resources needed to produce a household appliance is from 15 to 100 times the product’s final weight. We must reduce this waste.

Amélie Côté

Analyst, Reduction at the source

2. Properly maintain appliances and electronics

Properly maintaining our devices can have a major impact on how well they will continue to meet our needs. By extending a device’s useful life, we can reduce its environmental impact. For example, if we use an electronic tablet for four years instead of replacing it after two, we improve its environmental grade by 50%. Yes, you read that right! It just goes to show how much of a difference we can make by changing our consumer behaviours and getting into the habit of maintaining and repairing our devices.

And of course, proper maintenance includes repairing when possible! Did you know that only 19% of Canadians had their electronics and appliances repaired in 2020-2021? Many have unfortunately lost the repair reflex and perceive their items to be too complex to repair. Have a look at the obstacles and opportunities for consumers in our new report.

These videos can also help.

3. Take action to support access to repair and the right to repair

To get people to change their consumer behaviours, we need the proper tools. Access to repair must be enshrined in strong legislation in order to make it possible to effect real change, sometimes even at the source (the manufacture of appliances and electronics). But for laws to be enacted, people must make their voices heard. Please join your voice to our petition calling for more durable goods that are more easily repaired.

Repair is everyone’s business

Repair helps us to reduce our environmental footprint and become more responsible consumers. Action is necessary by all stakeholders – governments, manufacturers and citizens – to generate concrete change.

Équiterre’s new report is a first step to inform and educate on the need to democratize access to repair. Our work is far from done to make repair more accessible and to restore the repair reflex.

  • pdf  - 0.77 mb Report: Working Towards Repairable Appliances and Electronics in Canada.

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