Ask Renee: Reduce, reuse, recycle, REPAIR 

Instead of replacing your consumer goods, repair them

click to enlarge Repair your consumer goods, don't throw them out - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Repair your consumer goods, don't throw them out
  • Wikimedia Commons
Hi Renee,

I am a long-term fan and am currently living in Sweden. I thought you might be interested in this news story about what the government here is doing to encourage people to repair vs replace consumer goods.

Best wishes,

Hej, Linda!

I’m so honored to have an international fan. Tack! We Americans sure could learn a lot from more waste-conscious, environmentally-aware countries, like Sweden.

To summarize what Sweden is doing: there are proposals before the Swedish Parliament that would reward Swedes who choose to repair consumer goods, like bikes, clothing and shoes, as well as offer tax refunds to fix larger home appliances, like dishwashers, washing machines and ovens. A country that has been diligently working to reduce their domestic carbon emissions is now trying to reduce emissions tied to consumer goods produced globally.

Your article led me down a rabbit hole of other fascinating stories. Interestingly, Sweden, like Indianapolis, uses a waste-to-energy incineration program to produce heat and power. According to the 2012 article, Sweden ran out of garbage and had to import waste from other countries. Meanwhile, in France, they’ve passed a law making planned obsolescence illegal.

We have a long way to go in the U.S., a land of people who need the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos, where individual states (like our own) push back against goals to reduce carbon emissions and outright refuse to reduce dependence on coal and other fossil fuels. Taking a long, hard look at our consumption – of goods and energy – as individuals is a really good start.

So, the next time you think you need a new pair of shoes, live the exotic life of a Swede and take a look in your closet to see if an old favorite pair could be repaired instead. The next time your washer makes a funny sound or your fridge doesn’t keep your leftovers cold enough, call an appliance repair company – I know a good one and would be happy to refer you!

The fix-it proposals in Sweden will be voted on in December and, if voted through, will become Law on January 1, 2017.

Piece out,


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Renee Sweany

Renee Sweany

Renee has spent the past several years surrounding herself with like-minded people who share her passion for caring for the planet. She began writing “Ask Renee” after four years of offering green tips through her e-newsletter Green Piece Indy. E-mail her your green living queries at

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