Fixit Clinic encourages people to repair broken items before throwing them away

Thousands of people in Southern California trekked out to their favorite retailers over the Thanksgiving weekend in hopes of getting a head start on their Christmas shopping.

However, officials at the Burbank Recycle Center are taking a different approach to the holiday gift-giving season. Instead of buying new appliances, electronics or toys, officials want people to bring in their broken items to see if they can be repaired.


From noon to 3 p.m. Sunday at the facility at 500 S. Flower St., the Burbank Recycle Center will host its first Fixit Clinic — a free event for people of all ages where they can bring in their broken electronic item or appliance and learn how to fix it themselves.

The facility will provide specialty tools, work space and guidance for those who attend, but people are also encouraged to bring any tools and replacement parts they think are necessary to make repairs.


Attendees are limited to bringing items they can carry, which means no large appliances.

"When you look inside these electronics, they're really complex, and we just don't value it," said Amy Hammes, a recycling specialist at the center. "We just say, 'we're done with it and throw it away … So if we can take a step back and consume a little bit less and value the things that we do have, this Fixit Clinic is actually a really cool concept."

Hammes, who has been working at the facility the past two years, said she has seen dozens of televisions, small kitchen appliances and other older appliances that people have decided to ditch for newer versions, even though she believes those items still have plenty of life to them.

"Our grandparents used to keep their television for 20 years, but now we get one every three years," she said. "When people are through with the other one, there's such a little market for the old device, so it comes into the disposal system."


Hammes recently learned about the Fixit Clinic program, which was started by Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate Peter Mui in 2009 to encourage people to be more self-sustaining, and she decided it would be a fun activity and program to bring to Burbank.

Hammes said she has been recruiting clinic coaches, or volunteers from the community who have some knowledge about electronics, to help those who arrive at the facility on Sunday.

She added that there are a few volunteers who will be at the event to help people with sewing or mending fabric items together and even a contractor who will be teaching people how to install various fixtures in their homes.

"There's a lot of stuff out in the world, so it's nice to have some flexibility," Hammes said.

Mui said he does not want the Fixit Clinic to be an event where people can bring their item to be repaired, but rather have it be a space where people can learn about how their devices work and spark an interest in people about learning how to fix their items.

"We're really trying to disseminate these skills out to society," said Mui, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area. "We're trying to teach people how to fish, as opposed to handing them a fish."

To register for the Fixit Clinic event, visit


Twitter: @acocarpio