Repairing is good for the environment and for your wallet! Extending the lifespan of our electronic and electrical devices would save millions of tonnes of CO2 and hundreds of € for consumers.

What repair activists have been preaching for a long time has been confirmed in a new study by the Öko-Institut on behalf of the German consumer organisation VZBV.

The study looks at the effects of longer use of televisions, smartphones, washing machines and notebooks and concludes: durable products hold the potential of enormous financial savings for consumers and can contribute significantly to the reduction of harmful greenhouse gases.

The results: massive CO2 emissions savings and cost savings

Using the four product groups in the study for a longer period of time has the potential to save 3.93 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents (CO2e) per year — and that is in Germany alone. This corresponds to the emissions of 1.85 million cars. 

The biggest impact we see is on televisions: if we succeeded in using TVs for 13 years — which, by the way, was also the norm until a few years ago — we could save more than two million CO2e annually in Germany.

The environment wouldn’t be the only one benefitting from longer-lasting products, consumers would too. Even by including energy consumption and repair costs, a single consumer can save up to 242€ on a smartphone, for example, if the device is used for seven years. The average usage period of smartphones today is about two and a half years.

Meanwhile, using a notebook for longer — ten years instead of five — can save almost 300 euros.

Policy makers need to act, for better informed consumers and longer-lasting products

Many surveys have already shown in the past that consumers would like products to last much longer. Time and again, consumers complain about products that break prematurely, cannot be repaired or are no longer usable due to a lack of software updates.

So now it’s time for policy makers to act and empower consumers with a right to repair to consciously choose long-lasting and repairable products. It is crucial that consumers are provided with information about the durability and repairability of products.

Today, the purchase price is the only information available to consumers when buying a product, notes the VZBV. Therefore, consumers often resort to choosing the cheaper product and end up paying for it later, alongside the environment.

Image: “Air Pollution in the United States” by United Nations Photo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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