Community repair: how does attending pop-up repair events impact on individuals' understanding and behaviour toward repair?

The Restart Project is a community-based repair initiative which seeks to extend the lifetime of, and reduce the waste from, electrical and electronic devices, thus reducing carbon emissions and enabling sustainable resource consumption. It does so by various means of community engagement. Research reported here focuses on their pop-up repair events, or ‘Restart Parties’. An initial survey was conducted with 99 of 316 individuals who attended Restart Parties across London between September and November 2016. This research explored environmental and repair-related topics and sought to establish the reasons why people attend Restart Parties. It was presented in a report published in March 2017. The current report presents the findings of a follow-up survey which sought to establish if Restart Party attendance had: ● Increased engagement in repair activities ● Fostered new knowledge and skills ● Changed respondents’ attitudes and/or behaviour towards repair and obtaining electrical and electronic devices. The research also examined respondents’ understanding of the broader issues around repair and how The Restart Project contributes to tackling them. The survey approached 74 of the previous 99 respondents and obtained 25 responses. Whilst this small sample size should be noted, the results show that: ● The majority of respondents (60%) had taken environmentally-responsible action with their device since the events, such as continued use of the device or recycling it, but some stored it (16%) or “threw it away” (8%) ● Three-quarters (75%) of respondents were more likely to “attend a community repair event” ● A small majority (56%) of respondents were more likely to attempt repairs at home ● Nearly a third of respondents were more likely to ‘‘volunteer at a community repair event’’ (30%), a higher proportion than those less likely to do so (22%) ● A small proportion of respondents (12%) had volunteered at a subsequent repair event ● Equal proportions of respondents were more likely to use a commercial repairer (39%) as those less likely to do so (39%) ● Respondents gained a variety of knowledge and skills, including laptop servicing skills, device disassembly, how to locate repair manuals, and how to recycle devices ● Some respondents also reported that attendance at Restart Parties improved their confidence to undertake repairs on their own ● Priorities when buying items have changed, although the average importance placed on environmentally-responsible considerations has not ● There was little change in the order of actions taken by respondents when a device breaks ● Respondents did not have a full understanding of The Restart Project’s aims. In summary, the results showed that respondents were more able to repair items and to dispose of those beyond repair responsibly. However, this ability is not consistently put into action. The priorities when buying items, the order of actions taken when a device breaks and recycling rates could be improved, whilst the rate at which items are stored could be decreased. Future work could focus on achieving sustained behaviour change.