The clinic that brings your broken toaster back to life


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to a NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you.

There's a growing movement to fix items, instead of throwing them out and buying new ones. At MIT, a graduate started Fixit Clinics eight years ago, and now they're held all across the country to teach people how to do repairs themselves.

From PBS station WGBH in Boston, Tina Martin reports.

TINA MARTIN: A toaster, a tripod and a kettle, all broken and in need of some TLC. And they're in the right place.

PETER MUI, FixIt Clinics: This is Fixit Clinic number 207. We have had a bunch of Fixit Clinics all across the United States.

TINA MARTIN: MIT grad Peter Mui started the clinics in 2009 to help people learn to help themselves and the environment in the process.

PETER MUI: And 52 tons of e-waste diverted from landfill. So, not even just diverted, not upcycled or not recycled, but actually returned to service for their originally intended use.

There is a sense that they don't have a choice when it goes — when it breaks. There is no repair people left anymore to do this stuff.

TINA MARTIN: The clinics are free and held three to four times a month at libraries and community centers across the country. Peter Mui and his team of volunteer coaches train people like Abby Fox (ph), whose kettle is out of commission.

WOMAN: Under normal conditions, you go like this, it goes click. But it also turns blue and then it should boil the water.

TINA MARTIN: She and I put on goggles to learn about how to get it back up and running. Part of getting the kettle back together is pulling it apart and testing electricity.

PETER MUI: But you understand that anything we do here could make it worse.

TINA MARTIN: That warning aside, the process is time-consuming, and there's a chance nothing can be done. But the Fixit team prides itself in resurrecting even the toughest electronics, like Jeannie Fink's (ph) classic radio, which belonged to her father.

WOMAN: His initials are actually still on the back of the part that we took off. And he has since passed away, but it had been sitting on a shelf in my home for the longest time.

TINA MARTIN: The bell sounds, and the music is playing again. It took about an hour for Jeannie and her Fixit coach to make it happen.

MAN: So you think you can fix something in your house by yourself now?


WOMAN: I think I'm more confident to at least try to troubleshoot.

TINA MARTIN: Abby Fox's kettle was a different story. The repair took all day, but, in the end, it was another Fixit Clinic success story.

For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Tina Martin in Boston.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And I could spend a couple of weeks there. I have got a lot of things at home that need fixing.

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