July 14th, 2022
Fixable is an online platform for all things repair and reuse, connecting people who need things fixed with others who can fix those products.
Over 483 kg already saved from landfill by reuse and repair.
Awarded a grant from Sustainability Victoria's ‘Recycling Victoria Communities Fund’ to roll out a pilot project in Moonee Valley. Now available Australia-wide.
We all know that we throw too many things away when we could repair, repurpose or reuse them in some way, or give them away to someone else who can. So how can we make repair mainstream again in our consumption-driven lifestyle?
Fixable is a social enterprise, started by Brendan Norris, who found himself wishing there was an easier way to get things repaired. He started the online platform to make repair and reuse more accessible to more people by connecting people who need things fixed with others in their community that can fix those products. In making these connections, Fixable is helping reduce waste in landfill and extending the life cycle of useful products. It is also forging community connections and helping the local service economy/.
Here, we speak to the founder of Fixable, Brendan Norris, about the organisation’s vision to make repair and reuse more readily available in Australian communities.
“Fixable is an online community platform for repair and reuse. I started it as an online, two-sided marketplace connecting people who needed things fixed with others nearby who were great at fixing things. Since then, in response to user feedback we’ve added an online community space to encourage more interaction and engagement among members – like a private Facebook group but purely for repair and reuse.”
“I am not good at fixing things myself, but I knew that there were plenty of people in every neighbourhood who are great at it, either as their job or hobby. Years ago, we would have known everyone in our community and those who could help us with a repair job. The problem now, however, is that we don’t always know each other. So, I decided to create a way to connect people."
"We are operating towards the top of the waste hierarchy: repair, reuse, repurpose. Our BIG picture includes adding a database of products that are Very Well Made (durable, lifetime warranty, repairable) so we can educate consumers and encourage people to buy well and buy once.”
The big problem is that it’s too easy to just chuck something out and buy a new one. Repair used to be a major part of the service economy in every community, but with the advent of globalisation, cheap manufacturing, and the cult of novelty, repair became comparatively too expensive and sometimes even unfashionable.
“As described in a book I read (Damon Centola’s book Change), people are more likely to adopt complex behaviour change when they see that multiple people whom they know well, from different parts of their life (e.g. family, social, work), have already adopted that behaviour. It’s more complex than virality. Think about the last time you made a significant change in behaviour. There’s a good chance you did it after you noticed that several people close to you had done it. So, we’re working on leveraging people’s existing social ties to spread the word via community groups, clubs, social groups, and social media groups."
“Fixable is a brand new start-up so we’ve done everything from scratch! We were awarded a grant from Sustainability Victoria’s (SV) “Recycling Victoria Communities Fund”. SV have been amazingly supportive and great to work with. We are towards the end of our 12-month pilot project focused on Moonee Valley and are already speaking to several local councils about expanding into their areas too. (Any council waste reduction officers, please get in touch!)”
“To get up and running, we had to customise our software to set up our marketplace platform, design a visual and brand identity. Then we hit the streets, the phones, and social media to spread the word. The uptake was slow initially, but we have learned valuable lessons and now as awareness of the community platform is spreading, we have momentum and memberships are growing daily.”
“We know that there are clever, resourceful people in every neighbourhood who fix things as their job or business, or who do it as a hobby. Our role with the Fixable marketplace is to connect them with people who need and are willing to pay for their skills, experience and knowledge. With the Fixable Community we want to provide an online space for people to join discussions, ask questions, find events, share successes, learn and teach. There are some amazing volunteer-run, grassroots organisations doing similar things (like Repair Cafes and other community groups). Fixable supports them wholeheartedly, for example by promoting their events and connecting them with others in the community."
"With Fixable, I recognised an opportunity to provide a way for fixers to earn some money from their skills and do so in their own time and in their own homes. We firmly believe that (a) fixers’ skills are valuable and should be remunerated, and (b) people ascribe more value to things they pay for. Therefore, we encourage fixers to charge for their time and skill.”
“Our goals are based on the number and weight of items diverted from landfill. To date, we have saved a total of 483 kg of items from landfill. This includes a range of items like musical equipment, furniture, bedding and mattresses, electronics, clothing, car parts and toys."
We also have community engagement goals as we recognised that behaviour change is a major part of what we’re doing. We track the activity on our website and app, and engagement across our community platform, as well as social media. Since we started professional outreach in March 2022, we have engaged with 7,410 people across Facebook and Instagram.”
“We want to make repair and reuse mainstream again. Make them accessible to anyone with any item needing fixing, in any community in Australia. Make Fixable into a thriving online community where interested people love to spend time, can learn from and teach each other, and one day, where certified courses are taught to aspiring fixers so they can find employment in a burgeoning repair sector.”
“Get in touch if you fix stuff yourself, if you need advice on a project, if you want to find someone nearby to help you fix something, if you want to share ideas about repurposing or upcycling, if you want to trade spare parts, or quite literally anything else even tangentially related to repair, reuse, and repurpose! Remember, if we all take action, the future is Fixable.”
“Join our (free) online community at https://fixable.co/feed if you’d like to engage with other people about repair and reuse (or visit https://fixable.co if you have something right now that needs repair)."