Joanne took the Rubbish Diet in 2014 and came along to swap some clothes at a Swish the team held in Harrow, West London. It inspired her to organise a Swish and other events as part of her role at Harrow Libraries. She also suggested that the library could host a Restart Party to help people learn to repair electronics.
We love how she’s helping others reduce their waste through repair and and couldn’t wait to catch up with her about her latest Restart Parties, her own approach to fixing things and how else she’s getting involved in this month’s Festival of Repair.
Thanks to Joanne a number of repair events in Harrow are now taking place. In July, a regular bi-monthly Harrow Restart Party started at Gayton Library to help people repair their broken electronics.
Before she embarked on her journey into restarting electronics she had been repairing her clothes at home so repair isn’t totally new to her. “I used to run family learning classes, teaching mums how to use sewing machines, which meant I had to learn how to use them too. So now I repair my clothes. I’m not fantastic but I can do basic things. The way I see it is at least I have tried. I don’t think anything should be disposable, in the not too distant past we used to fix things.”
Is there anything she’d like to repair but maybe doesn’t know how yet?
“Yes, jewellery!” she said, “I’ve always thought it’s a shame when a clasp on a necklace or an earring breaks and I have to throw it away. I know that it could be fixed but I don’t know how. I did attempt to repair a Nintendo Wii at home when it broke once and I now hope to learn how to fix electrical things at Restart.”
Repairing things and not buying new is obviously something Joanne enjoys. She told us “It’s also something I enjoy about working in libraries too, I think the ethos of the library is about sustainability, avoiding buying new, sharing resources. I’m pleased that I’ve been able to bring a Restart Party into the library because there might be other people who want to fix their things.”
During the Festival of Repair she has also helped us organise a Save-a-Bike Skill Share at Kenton Library, inviting people with knowledge of bike repair to share what they know with others.
But why does Joanne think that people learning to repair is important? “If you think about what you throw away it doesn’t seem like much. But when you think of it being multiplied by all the people in the world it’s worrying really. Things aren’t built to last anymore. My nan had her hoover for 40 years and people don’t know how to fix things anymore so they get thrown away. I haven’t ever seen a landfill but I can imagine it’s an eye opener. ”
On the subject of her first Restart Party, Joanne was thrilled about the number of people who came and their satisfaction at getting things fixed. “It was a good feeling knowing people wanted to come to repair and great to see volunteers who want to help people learn to fix too. There was a really good buzz! I didn’t know how well it would go the first time. If other people have been thinking about hosting one I would say give it a go. There is definitely a need for it and an interest in it. If people interested in fixing are thinking of going along to learn, I would say go! You’re not guaranteeing a fix but you’ll learn something, find out how to get a part and find out about resources to help you learn, like You Tube videos.”
So what’s Joanne’s own pledge for the Festival of Repair?
“I have a laptop and desktop PC which I would like to fix. I’m going to take them to the next Restart Party, where I will be able to get help to diagnose and find out what’s wrong.”
“I’ve always been quite passionate about being thrifty and sourcing secondhand rather than new,” she adds. “I like to donate things to charity shops too. It’s something I grew up with, my family often didn’t buy things new I think it’s more ethical so good for your conscience too.”
Inspired by Joanne? Host your own Restart Party in your community then download the guide here.
Want to learn to fix your broken electronics at a Restart Party in West London? Come to Uxbridge Restart Party on September 19th from 11-2pm or Harrow Restart Party on October 10th from 11-2pm.
Use your your repair skills to help people fix, find out more about volunteering as a Restarter here.