We all have memories from our childhood of falling over, tearing our trousers at the knee, then soon forgetting the pain while choosing a loudly coloured patch for the tear. 

Repairing things that were broken was second nature. As it should be. Covering a tear isn’t hard. Nor is, usually, fixing a broken chair or bicycle. But we have lost the spirit of fixing somewhat in an age of cheap, plentiful, and easily available goods, and we simply throw away so many quality products that deserve a second life.

According to Blocket, a Swedish online classifieds marketplace owned by CME member Schibsted, 1/3 of Swedes don’t ever mend things when they break, usually because they don’t know how. Yet 93% think they ought to know how to mend clothes and other day-to-day goods. 

Could we be seeing a return of the spirit of fixing things in Europe?

The European Parliament has called upon the European Commission to consider repair requirements in upcoming files that govern product design and consumer rights, from the Sustainable Products Initiative to the Right to Repair. This might include things like labelling to inform consumers about repairability, and even incentivising consumers and traders alike who favour repairs. Being promoters of the extension of products’ lifecycle, we support this line of thinking. Encouraging people to consume more sustainably and reduce waste fits our ambitious efforts to foster a circular economy that helps mitigate climate change. 

As Classifieds Marketplaces Europe, we foster a culture of repair and reuse, which counter consumer bias against pre-owned goods that by nature sometimes require a bit of a fix. Some companies have even gone beyond: Blocket has published a guide and launched a YouTube channel on how to take care of and mend things. If you ever need pointers on how to change a tire on a bike or change the wiring in a lamp, you know where to go. 

With EU policymakers now seemingly embracing the Right to Repair, whether through the Sustainable Products Initiative or other files that fall under the New Consumer Agenda and Circular Economy Action Plan, might we be witnessing a full swing back to knee patches and the like? It’s early days, but we certainly hope so. 

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Tags: Last modified: 2 August 2022