When your toaster or sewing machine or what-have-you dies a sad, mechanical death, it can be frustrating. These things cost money, and it’s often more expensive (and time-consuming) to get it repaired than to just buy a new one. That’s why there are now repair cafés, where specialists teach people how to fix their own gadgets so they don’t have to buy new ones.
A repair café is a free event hosted by local craftspeople and specialists to help people in the community fix their broken stuff and learn new skills. It’s a lot more hands-on than a YouTube video, and a lot cheaper than a trip to Sears.
“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 official Repair Café website reads. “The trouble is, lots of people have forgotten that they can repair things themselves or they no longer know how.”
These cafés are often held in community centers, libraries and churches. If you haven’t heard of one in your town, ask around! It could be posted on a message board in your town hall or somewhere else you don’t regularly frequent. The Repair Café website also has a searchable directory.
Learn A New Skill And Save The Environment
Repair café workshops are for more than just fixing your various broken electronics. Most of the meet-ups feature a variety of specialists who can teach you how to fix everything from bicycles to jewelry, how to steam clean your furniture, how to sew and more.
And obviously, you don’t need to bring something broken in order to attend. You can just come to watch and learn. Or, conversely, you can offer your help if you’re especially good at needlepoint, indoor gardening or anything else someone might find useful.
“Knowing how to make repairs is a skill quickly lost,” the Repair Café website laments. “Society doesn’t always show much appreciation for the people who still have this practical knowledge.”
Repair Cafés are also a fantastic way to practice the “reduce” portion of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Instead of pitching something in the trash, giving your toaster a new lease on life will help reduce emissions and energy needed to make a new one.
If we have you convinced, find a repair café near you! The first one opened in Amsterdam in 2009, and today there are more than 1,200 locations around the world. You can check the map here to see if there’s one in your neighborhood.
Since the Repair Café model is a nonprofit, volunteer-run group, it relies on donations to cover any operating costs. If you want to start a group yourself, you can get a starter kit here for €49 (around $52). The kit includes information on how to set up and run a Repair Café, as well as how to connect with people in your area who might be interested in attending one and promoting the event to your community.
So, would you bring your stuff to a repair café?