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Repair café – a project to make friends, not waste

by Joan Marc Simon

What do you do with a chair when the leg has come loose? With a toaster that no longer works? Or a woollen jumper with moth holes? Toss it? No way! You can repair it at the Repair Café.

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Repair Café is a project born in Amsterdam in 2009 with the idea of bringing people together to socialise, use their skills and reduce waste all in one.

We throw away vast amounts of stuff in Europe. Even things with almost nothing wrong, and which could get a new lease on life after a simple repair. The trouble is, lots of people have forgotten that they can repair things themselves or they no longer know how. Knowing how to make repairs is a skill quickly lost. Society doesn’t always show much appreciation for the people who still have this practical knowledge, and against their will they are often left standing on the sidelines. Their experience is never used, or hardly ever.

Repair Café is changing all that! People who might otherwise be sidelined are getting involved again. Valuable practical knowledge is getting passed on. Things are being used for longer and don’t have to be thrown away. This reduces the volume of raw materials and energy needed to make new products. It cuts CO2 emissions, for example, because manufacturing new products and recycling old ones causes CO2 to be released.

Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things (together). In the place where a Repair Café is located, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, etcetera. You will also find repair specialists such as electricians, seamstresses, carpenters and bicycle mechanics.

Visitors bring their broken items from home. Together with the specialists they start making their repairs in the Repair Café. It’s an ongoing learning process. If you have nothing to repair, you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Or you can lend a hand with someone else’s repair job. You can also get inspired at the reading table – by leafing through books on repairs and DIY.

Why a Repair Café?

Repair Café teaches people to see their possessions in a new light. And, once again, to appreciate their value. Repair Café helps change people’s mindset. This is essential to kindle people’s enthusiasm for a sustainable society.

But most of all, Repair Café just wants to show how much fun repairing things can be, and how easy it often is. Why don’t you give it a go?

Start a Repair Café

You can start your own Repair Café anytime!

Stichting Repair Café supports local groups in Europe to start their own Repair Café. You can visit their website for more information or contact them to set up your Repair Café.

Repair Café teaches people to see their possessions in a new light.

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