I first stumbled across Repair Cafes during our original Make Do and Mend Year, and was instantly fascinated and enthused by the idea. At that time, about 3 years ago, there were just 3 Repair Cafes listed in the UK. Now, at the time of writing there are 23, and over 1000 worldwide.
The concept is beautifully simple:
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, et cetera. You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields
And I love this bit from The Repair Cafe website which explains their “Why”:
We throw away vast amounts of stuff. 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.
The Repair Café teaches people to see their possessions in a new light. And, once again, to appreciate their value. The Repair Café helps change people’s mindset. This is essential to kindle people’s enthusiasm for a sustainable society.
Repair Cafes were the brainchild of Martine Postma, and first started in the Netherlands, but the idea has spread quickly and as well as the official Repair Cafe events, there are also hundreds of other Repair events not run under the Repair Cafe banner.
The Restart Project “is a London-based social enterprise that encourages and empowers people to use their electronics longer in order to reduce waste.” It began in 2012, and has also started to spread it’s Repair message around the world, with 30 Restart Parties happening around the world.
Not only is the Repair message spreading, but there is a very real impact of these events in terms of items saved from landfill – In 2015, the Repair Cafe estimated that over 200,000 items were repaired worldwide, saving over 200,000kg of CO2 emissions. That all sounds very impressive, but I have to confess that kgs of CO2 means nothing to me, so I did a quick Google to see if I could find out what this is equivalent to. A saving of 200,000 kg of CO2 is the equivalent to taking nearly 40 cars off the road, and is the energy use of an average house over 15yrs!
Community Repair events are a brilliant way to not only repair your things, but also to pass on repair skills, and to help combat the perception that things can’t be repaired.
If you love the sound of Repair Cafes and Restart Parties, take a look to see if there is one near you. The Repair Cafe events are listed here, and all the Restart Parties are here.
If there isn’t one near you, then why not have a think about starting your own – I’ll be back tomorrow with a post all about how to start your own!