Should people always have the “right to repair” the things they paid for? Folks besides farmers ask this question too. Should Mom be allowed to fix her own iPhone? Should hospital workers be permitted to repair ventilators? (Ventilators are machines that help very sick people or preemie babies breathe.) Should local mechanics be allowed to fix cars made by all car companies?
Colorado passed its first right to repair law just last year. It says people who use wheelchairs can get the tools and information to fix them.
Fridges. Washing machines. Dryers. Other gadgets and appliances. Once, most people could hire just about any repair person to fix just about anything. But that has changed. These machines have gotten techier. Companies make them with computer chips inside. Machines containing computer chips often can’t be repaired by just anyone. They have to be fixed by the companies that made them—or replaced.
People who want the “right to repair” ask for a few things. They want access to manuals and updates. They want to be able to buy parts and tools that fit their machines. They want manufacturers to build machines in a way that allows them to be fixed instead of thrown out.
Think about this: When machines are easier to throw away than to fix, a lot of them get pitched. For some machines with batteries (laptops, cars, and smartphones), it can cost more to replace a battery than scrap the whole thing and start over! Wouldn’t it be better to fix . . . than to load up landfills with useless junk?