Green Party announces end to “throwaway economy” and create a “Repair Cafe” in every community

2 December 2019

The Green Party has promised to end the “throwaway economy” with a new suite of policies designed to encourage repair and reuse.

The launch takes place at the Goodlife Centre, Southwark; a community focused studio and workshop space. The Party will announce two key policies: a “Right to Repair” and “Repair Cafes”.

A comprehensive “Right to Repair” will require manufacturers to keep goods operational for years after purchase and encourage repair and reuse. The practice of producing goods with the deliberate intention that they will become obsolete within a few years time will be banned.

“Repair Cafes” will give local communities the skills and tools to repair, upgrade and customise their belongings. Using and borrowing equipment will give people access to expensive items such as power tools and sewing machines.

Based on figures from WRAP, this policy could save the average UK household around £800 a year, which is the value of electrical equipment thrown out and replaced.[3]

Green Party Co-Leader, Sian Berry, and Deputy Leader, Amelia Womack, delivered a keynote speech.

Sian Berry, Co-Leader of the Green Party, said:

“From the coffee cup you chuck in the bin, to the smartphone you upgrade year after year, disposability is at the heart of our economic model. And we all know it’s not right. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t make us happy. Nobody wants to add to the mountains of junk choking our natural world

“Today, we are pleased to propose a right to repair, which would make it a legal requirement for companies to lengthen the lifespan of their products, make spare parts available, and build them in ways which can be fixed by everyday tools.

“This is an essential step towards cutting waste and going net-zero by 2030, and none of the other parties are even talking about it.”

Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party, said:

“Today, we’re excited to pledge that Greens will support the creation of a repair cafe on every high street in Britain.

“Our high stress have been devastated over the last ten years. We need to rebuild the fabric of our communities. Repair cafes are just one step to deliver innovative ideas that support people's needs and save people money, while helping the environment.

 

FULL TEXT OF SPEECHES

Sian Berry said:

Good afternoon, thank you so much for having us here today.

It’s so great to be in a place like this where we get to actually use our hands and be creative, something which we don’t make enough time for these days.

But that’s something that Greens are going to change.

We know we live in a throwaway culture.

From the coffee cup you chuck in the bin, to the smartphone you upgrade year after year, disposability is at the heart of our economic model.

And we all know it’s not right. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t make us happy.

Nobody wants to have to send a hoover to landfill, just because the manufacturer refuses to send a new nozzle.

Nobody wants to add to the mountains of junk choking our natural world.

Nobody wants children working down mines for minerals for a new phone they don’t actually want - but model after model keeps breaking down.

This isn’t right.

We need a step change across industry and manufacturing.

Today, we are pleased to propose policies, as part of our Green New Deal, that tackle waste, cut down on the carbon from the products in our lives, and place these actions at the heart of our communities.

In our estimates of the carbon impact of our Green New Deal we have the top-down big investments from the Government - in energy, home energy efficiency, transport across the country and agriculture. All parties are starting to think about these things, though none are putting in anything like the level of investment we plan to.

BUT Greens are unique in also having a local Green New Deal - making sure that we aren’t just doing this from the top down but also from the bottom up.

Our manifesto puts £10 billion back in the budgets of local authorities, so they can restore their local services, like libraries and community centres, children’s services and youth centres. And we are also putting a further £3 billion at their disposal for climate adaptation and green initiatives.

Our local Green New Deal, in total, we estimate will save a further 10-15% per cent of carbon on top of the savings from our main investments. It’s our bottom-up, grassroots focus, and our focus on the embedded carbon in our stuff that sets us apart from the other parties in this election.

In addition, we’ll put forward legislation, in Europe or in Parliament, for a real right to repair, which would make it a legal requirement for companies to lengthen the lifespan of all their products, make spare parts available, along with instructions and diagrams, and build them in ways which can be fixed by everyday tools.

This is an essential step towards cutting waste and going net-zero by 2030, and none of the other parties are even talking about it.

The environmental impact of the right to repair would be transformative.

Greens are thinking things through and making plans to throw away a throwaway economy.

And this isn’t just about industry and legislation and emissions. This is about how throwaway culture impacts us as human beings and communities.

The truth is that we are stuck on a treadmill of consumerism and waste which is driving the ecological emergency.

But in a place like this, we can imagine what it’s like to stop the treadmill.

What it’s like to take care of the things you own, to take pride in developing new skills, and to take pleasure in being together.

We urgently need more spaces like these.

Not just to stop the flow of waste and mindless consumerism. But to rediscover the transformative power of creativity and community.

We see the culture shifting around us, with repair cafes sprouting up across the country.

These are places where you can bring something broken, and volunteers will help you fix it, giving you the tools, skills and guidance you need to revive the objects you use everyday.

Rather sending things to landfill, you give things a new lease of life.

Rather than replace something, you restore something.

Rather than going shopping and spending money alone, you create something together.

This is our vision. And greens are ready to make this vision a reality.

 

Amelia Womack said:

Today, we’re proud to put forward a new policy - Greens would enable every community in Britain to have a repair cafe, right on their high street.

We’d make it a duty of all local authorities to find a space in every community to host a repair cafe, as part of our local Green New Deal to restore funding and community services to local councils.

The repair cafes will look something like the space we are here.

A place where you can learn new skills, use your hands, be creative.

A place where we can step off the treadmill of consumerism, and slow the flow of waste into our natural world.

A place to reignite the vigour of local communities which so many of us are longing for.

Because when we create together, we can develop collective solutions to common problems. We form new friendships, we find common ground and we rediscover the meaning of community.

These Repair Cafes offer so much to so many. Not just for the environment but to help build stronger communities too.

Everyone will have their own hobbies, interests and needs that could benefit from this community access to tools and equipment.

These can be expensive to get into - so much kit to buy, so many skills to learn. Repair Cafes would open up so many opportunities and lower the barriers to entry.

My own love is fashion, and the quest for developing great style without it costing the earth.

There are many people like me in various forms - the vintage shoppers, the charity shop bargain hunters, the upcyclers, the modern seamstresses and tailors doing amazing things.

Repair Cafes would be a place that people could learn these skills and have access to a huge selection of tools without any of that upfront cost.

Together, we can get off the treadmill of waste, end throwaway culture and reconnect to the things we own.

And this is what repair cafes can offer.

The possibilities are endless, and the opportunities are enormous.

We’ll repair our things, we’ll repair our communities, and we will repair our environment.

It is all part of changing the culture and setting up the building blocks for a sustainable society.

This is just one expression of the Green New Deal which is set out in the Green Party manifesto.

And by electing Green MPs, this is the type of future we can aspire to.

Thank you






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