Bright Sparks: reuse + repair for small appliances

Bright Sparks is no longer trading and is not accepting appliances for donation or repair.

Bright Sparks: reuse + repair for small appliances

Bright Sparks was a not-for-profit social enterprise in Melbourne, Australia, that reused and repaired small electrical appliances to keep them out of landfill.

Bright Sparks ran a successful pilot from August 2015 to April 2016. We we received more than 6,000 donations and diverted more than 15 tonnes of electrical items from landfill.

To learn what happened, read our story here.

Bright Sparks founder and managing director Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald still advocates for repairs but in a different industry; she teaches clothes-mending workshops and is writing a book about clothes mending.

For tips on where you can repair or recycle your appliances, read on...

Q. Where can I get my broken appliance repaired?

A. For best results head to Google, enter the item type and add the words 'repair' and 'Melbourne' to your search, e.g. toaster repair Melbourne. This works for all kinds of things, not just electrical items.

For audio speaker repairs, try Total Recoil in Thornbury.
For other audio equipment, try Electronics Repair Shop or Round Again in Coburg.
For microwaves, televisions and other home entertainment devices, try The Video People in Ringwood.
For computer repairs, try Geeks2U.

If you know the manufacturer of your appliance, you can contact them directly and ask for a referral to an authorised repairer. (Manufacturers often list this information on their websites.)

We did not keep any spare parts from the pilot - everything that wasn't reused or repaired was recycled. We occasionally had luck finding spare parts on eBay. If you know the name and model number of the part you're after, that will help you in your search. (This information can often be found in the instruction manual.)

Q. What can I do with my unwanted appliances?

If your appliances work and are in good condition: reuse is the most environmentally friendly option. Try selling or giving them away on eBay, Gumtree, Ziilch, Facebook groups (such as your local Good Karma Network) or garage sales. The Eastern Emergency Relief Network accepts whitegoods and small appliances in working order.

NOTE: If in doubt whether your local charity accepts electrical items, ask, or check their website! We can't stress this part enough --> If you sneakily donate a small appliance to a charity that doesn't accept them, it will most likely end up in landfill, and the charity will have to pay to dispose of it. If you donate a broken small appliance to a charity, it will most likely end up in landfill, and the charity will have to pay to dispose of it.

If your appliances are broken: get them professionally repaired. See the previous question for details.

If items are damaged, unrepairable or obsolete: recycle them. This is easier said than done! Electrical items are complex and dangerous to break down, and can't be recycled in the normal recycling bin. These are a few options:

TVs, computers, printers and computer accessories (mice, keyboards, etc.): visit Recycling Near You to find your nearest drop-off point.Inkjet cartridges, toner cartridges and toner bottles can be recycled through the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program.Mobile phones: visit Mobile Muster for drop-off locations or to print a prepaid mailing label and send your phones by post.Batteries can be recycled in a number of locations including Battery World and Aldi stores. Visit the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative site or Recycling Near You for details.