RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents, a high service distributor of electronics and maintenance products, is supporting a mission to encourage us to become a nation of ‘fixers’ when it comes to failed electronic equipment. With the aim of reducing electronic waste, for the good of the environment and our pockets, RS is sponsoring a series of skill sharing workshops from The Restart Project, a London-based charity that encourages and empowers people to use their electronics for longer.

The Restart Project is known for its ‘Restart Parties’, workshops taking place in communities and workplaces across London and replicated around the rest of the UK and internationally. Participants bring along their broken electronic item and they are then assigned a ‘Restarter’ with the best skill set to help them fix it. The person who has brought in the item will learn from the Restarter in an assisted self-repair – this educates people on how to carry out basic repairs themselves.

This RS-supported series takes place in London and includes six monthly workshops aimed at helping The Restart Project’s volunteers share skills amongst themselves. Half of the workshops are especially aimed at women interested in learning more about electronics repair.

Pete Wood, DesignSpark community manager at RS Components in Corby, said: “When we first heard about the Restart Project last year, we thought it was a brilliant initiative. To show our support, we put together an RS Tool kit for the volunteers known as Restarters, and took these along to one of their Restart Parties. I have participated in these workshops myself and it’s great to see that not only are people keen to fix their items rather than replace, but also to learn new skills and in some cases, become Restarters themselves.”

More expensive items such as laptops and mobile phones are often brought in, but also household items like kettles. Ugo Vallauri and Janet Gunter are the two founders of the Restart project, a registered charity, and were inspired to start the project after world travel led them to see different cultures and how they are more willing to repair and recycle where they can. 

Ugo said: “Here in the West we are less likely to repair, so we have a growing problem of waste. Some of this is down to not having the skills to make simple repairs ourselves, for others it’s the easy option to replace them, driven by the general low cost of technology these days. However, for many, it’s also the cost of getting it looked at by someone, just to understand what’s wrong with it, as for those on a low income, replacement isn’t always an option. The Restart Project aims to provide opportunities to share repair skills and reduce chances of unnecessarily wasting repairable electronics.”

Pete added: “Compared to a few decades ago, we now live in an age of constantly evolving low cost electronics. As consumers, we have become a nation that disposes of electronic goods easily and buys new, when often a simple repair can prolong the life of our gadgets. This is bad for the environment and actually really wasteful, especially when a repair can often be relatively simple and cost-effective. We hope these workshops inspire people to recycle and re-use, learn some useful skills they can share and engage in their own communities more.”

The dates, locations and venues for upcoming Restart Parties can be found on The Restart Project’s website. Community organisations interested in running their own Restart Parties are encouraged to do so and can find information and support on the website.