We live in a throw-away society where it’s easier to buy new than fuss around finding a way to repair broken things. Part of this attitude is fueled by the low cost of goods. Why bother fixing a broken toaster when you can buy a new one for $25? It’s tough to find spare parts, expert repair-people, time to run in a broken item and wait for it to get fixed. Much easier and often just as economical to replace things, right?
Yet our disposable lifestyle clogs landfills, creates pollution, wastes resources and isn’t necessarily less costly. It makes more sense from an environmental and economical perspective to repair durable goods. Case in point: this summer Enviro Girl’s patio table flipped over in a windstorm. The glass top shattered, but the metal table frame and chairs were fine. For a couple hundred dollars she got a new glass table top custom, much less than she’d spend on a new patio set.
This week Enviro Girl finally had it up to here with her leaking Hamilton Beach Brewstation. Instead of junking an otherwise fine coffee maker, she got on the company website, entered the product number and ordered a new carafe for $15, much less than she’d pay for a whole new appliance. Replacing the broken part creates less waste than replacing the entire coffee maker, too.
This brings Enviro Girl to a cool thing she’s caught wind of: Repair Cafes are cropping up across Europe and America. The premise is 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 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.
Eco Park in LaCrosse, Wisconsin has begun a Repair Cafe program. It strikes Enviro Girl as a great tie-in with any Earth Day event or community festival. She loves the concept because it combines bringing together people, recycling and reusing our resources, and sharing knowledge. What could be greener than that?
Tell the Eco Women–does your community hold a Repair Cafe or similar event? Give us the details!