Does anyone weigh items at their events?


#1

We’re exploring new ways to measure our impact, and we already use Fixometer which helps give us an idea about how much stuff we save from an electronics perspective, but as a Repair Café we fix (attempt to) lots of other items.

Just wondering if anyone else weighs items as they come in for repair to give some kind of measurement of impact of stuff saved from landfill/incineration/‘recycling’ etc.

If you do, we’d love to hear how and what eqipment you use etc.

Clare


#2

Hi Clare,

Marina here from Club de Reparadores in Buenos Aires. We also fix all sorts of items at our events, (always electric appliances and textiles, but often also books, toys, music instruments, bikes, electronics, 3d printing of spare parts). We always try to weight every item to keep track of our impact.

We have an old kitchen scale for small items, and one with a hook (not sure how this is called) for bigger items over 2kg, though it is not so precise.

We still have quite an issue with how to register the info, I am not sure we’ve figured out the best way yet! We started writing this down on a notebook, which required lots of data-entry hours post event… We then tried to register items directly on a spreadsheet with a computer at the events, but this was often a bit problematic, not always there is a computer available for this, and it also feels a bit burocratic! Now we are back to doing it the Restart way using a big poster sheet where things are listed in order. We feel this is what works best as it also contributes to the dynamics of the event as people can see how many items have arrived, in which order, how many have smiles or sad faces…
But I have to say we are always behind with entering this data to a spreadsheet to actually calculate impact! We have to catch up strongly on that task!

M


#3

I don’t have a better answer for measuring impact, but I’m concerned that weight is such a blunt measure - you could repair 150 iPhones, and would still weigh less than one bike (yes, we do both).

Is simply the number of items repaired a better impact measure than weight? There are far more precious raw materials in 150 iPhones than in one bike!

Chris Moller, Cambridge Repair Cafe Co-ordinating Group


#4

The OP said that they’re using the Fixometer which means they they’re already capturing all that info (approximately) for electr(on)ic devices.

Presumably therefore they want to weigh everything else (bikes, clothes, furniture etc.) as a measure of landfill saved.

Also, some local authorities are unfortunately accustomed to seeing all waste as bulk landfill measured by weight so it may be very useful for funding applications as well as publicity & general interest to demonstrate how much they’ve saved.

As for what equipment to use, I’m no expert but one thought I have, if you can get one cheaply, is a vet’s scale since they’re not huge but you can fit many things on them easily.

Some Restarters have repaired weighing scales so maybe they might have some recommendations?

Dave Lukes,
Hackney Fixers


#5

Hi everyone…thanks for all your thoughts @Dave @Chris_Moller @Club_de_Reparadores

I’ve made a start for next week’s event, buy purchasing a simple luggage digital hand held scale (up to 50kg) and an IKEA blue bag to put items in for weighing. (We haven’t had any scales in to fix in the past 6 months, so didn’t have one like that to use.)

To record it, we’re going to add it to our visitor form where we already state what the item is, brand (if known) and we’ll now get the welcome team to weigh and add that info too. We don’t have any fancy way to update this, but after each monthly event I add the data to a spreadsheet and I’ve created formula’s so we can easily track how many items, categories, fix or not etc, so this will just get added in.

We’re doing an infograph for the end of our first year of existing, and I find that people really relate to ‘we’ve saved 25 iPhones from being binned’ as well as ‘we’ve saved the weight of an elephant from being binned’, so we’ll cover both bases.

And hopefully as we continue we’ll be able to use for any future bids, or lobbying activity that we do in the #right-to-repair area.

Thanks again,

Clare


#6

That’s true so I think it’s good to have a few different metrics. We also report on CO2 diverted through repair (based on an estimate of the embodied CO2 associated with the production of a thing), and by this measure 150 iPhones stacks up differently to 1 bike. Back of the envelope/search-engine calculation but say around 7,000kg of CO2e for 150 iPhones and 200-ish kg for 1 aluminium-frame bike. CO2 is harder to accurately measure on than weight though… and also perhaps harder to grasp what 1000kg of CO2 means. We try to also put it in terms of manufacturing other things (e.g. cars) to make it more tangible.

Ultimately I don’t know if one metric is necessarily better than another? Whatever resonates with people is best, and that can change from context to context! As @Dave says it may be that a funder is interested in weight. As Clare says someone else might be motivated by raw amounts fixed. Someone else might be motivated to know how repairing affects greenhouse gas emissions.

Also like you say there’s other raw materials that could be measured… or water, especially thinking about clothing…

Just to note we’re looking at how best to include non electr(on)ic categories of things in the Fixometer.