At Repair Cafés, the philosophy is fix it, don’t dump it
In the Morwell community centre is a new initiative – the Repair Café. It opened in September and the café gang has already repaired everything from electrical equipment to a much-loved umbrella.
Morwell Community House manager Tracie Lund says: “Some of our best repairers are over 50. They understand the value of fixing things and have often been ‘tinkering’ for years.” Now they have a place to share their skills and knowledge, and reduce the environmental damage of our ‘disposable’ society.
Ms Lund said the Repair Café had been very simple to set up and was already a great success – bringing the community together and attracting a whole new group of people to the community centre.
What is a Repair Café?
The Repair Café movement started in Amsterdam in 2007, and there are now more than 1300 cafés worldwide. The principle behind the repair café is simple: why throw it away when it can be fixed?
Fixing things is generally much cheaper than manufacturing new products, given the cost of raw materials and energy, not to mention the CO2 emitted in the manufacturing process.
The free cafés are run by volunteers, but you don’t just get to drop your item off for repair. You repair it yourself alongside the ‘expert’, learning new skills and gaining an understanding of how things work.
This means that valuable skills, which were rapidly being lost in the ‘throw it away and buy a new one’ era, are being passed on. Whether it’s a bike, clothing, appliance or some other household item that needs mending, someone will be happy to fix it.
The sessions are held once a month, usually in cafés, community centres or public halls. There are 18 Repair Cafés in Australia, across all states and territories, except South Australia and Tasmania. To find a repair café, go to the Repair Café website.
If you don’t have a particular skill or anything to repair, you can still drop in for a cuppa and help with someone else’s repair job, and maybe pick up a few skills along the way.
No Repair Café in your area? Start one.
You will get lots of support from this not-for-profit organisation. There is a small fee for the ‘starter kit’, but for less than $80 you will get all the information you need about insurance, starting up and communication, as well as a listing on their website and contact information for other people in your area who have shown an interest in a Repair Café.
Alternatively, contact your local community centre; they can often help with the set-up of groups like this, and provide a free venue as well.
This is a great way to reuse and recycle, save money and help save the planet along the way.
Would you work in a repair café? Do you support the concept?
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