Toss it Away? No Way!
By Heather Crawford
"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without," reads a sign at the Repair Cafe in Pasadena, CA. At the monthly cafes, organized by Transition Pasadena, people from the community meet to share skills, get things repaired, give things away and have a great time doing it!
“I do a lot of things in the community,” says Adelaide Nalley, a local resident, “but [the Repair Cafe] stood out as something unique; I'd never seen anything like it! There was so much energy in the room. I left feeling super-energized.” Through participating in the repair cafes, Adelaide has not only had all manner of items repaired—wooden sculptures, Vitamix blender, a moth-eaten cashmere sweater—she has also gotten her hair trimmed, learned how to repair her bicycle, volunteered as a Spanish translator and taken home free items brought by community members, such as clothing, fruit from local trees and even worms!
The first Repair Cafe was started by Martine Postma in The Netherlands in 2009. A year later, the nonprofit Repair Cafe Foundation was founded to support local groups around the world to start their own cafes. Since then, it has grown to 18 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Japan and Norway, to name a few.
The benefits to the community are many. Participants not only redirect goods from landfills, while conserving natural resources and helping consumerism take a downward slide, but they also make fun new connections.
Repair Cafes also provide people with the space and time to interact within the gift/sharing economy, so that everyone can experience a sense of abundance. Even if you have nothing to repair, you can simply enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and chat up the neighbors. Or lend a hand with someone else’s repair job. Or perhaps get inspired at the reading table by leafing through books on repair and DIY (do-ityourself) projects.
So what does the future hold for all the broken toasters of the world? There is hope! As Repair Cafes continue to pop up in communities around the world (think: your town!), toasters will have a second chance at life, while cafe-goers will be invigorated by a sense of interdependence, the very fabric that knits communities together.
The Repair Cafe Foundation has recently partnered with six other organizations in creating a new European coalition for repairable products. The coalition aims to raise public awareness, facilitate constructive dialogue on new business models related to repairable products and promote a regulatory environment that enhances product reparability and durability.
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