Whether you spend your time meeting over Zoom with colleagues, following virtual yoga lessons or navigating the college experience through breakout rooms, broken electronics are a serious impediment to the functions of daily life. In the age of COVID-19, we depend on the internet and the technology that helps us access it more than ever. While a lot changed in 2020, Californians’ determination to save both money and the environment by fixing their damaged electronic devices — including cell phones, laptops, gaming consoles and more — remained constant.
A new report, “What Are Californians Fixing?” by CALPIRG Education Fund, compiled data from the repair website iFixit.com to determine not only what devices Californians were repairing the most in 2020 but also the problems they were trying to address. Last year, 6.8 million Californians visited iFixit to fix everything from coat zippers to computers to cars. Despite ubiquitous ad campaigns for newer, shinier devices, DIY repair remains a popular option for many — and good for Californians, especially while the pandemic keeps so many of us homebound with tight budgets. While billionaires, including several leaders of top tech companies, have seen their fortunes expand by 39% through the pandemic, the ordinary citizen saw the exact opposite, with more than 35% of workers in the bottom quintile of wage distribution becoming unemployed.
The nationwide shortage of 5 million school computers last summer provides a great case study on the need for repair. For the first time, students of all ages found themselves needing computers just to attend class. But amid a laptop shortage and a lack of reasonably priced options, many students lacked access to necessary technology. Replacing a battery is a simple fix that could help revamp a family’s old computer instead of forcing them to buy a new one, but it’s not as easy to do as it should be. Plenty of parts, including hard-to-find proprietary screws, scare people from making those repairs themselves. Unsurprisingly, 29% of battery replacement searches by Californians on iFixit were for laptops.
As Californians transitioned to life at home, their entertainment sources shifted…