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Repair 246Repair Cafés 

Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things together.

In a Repair Café, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need- clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, etc. You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields.

There are over 2,300 Repair Cafés worldwide in 30 countries. They are not necessarily open every day or for a lot of hours. They involve an estimated 35,000 volunteers and it is estimated that 43,000 items are repaired per month

Visitors bring their broken items from home. Together with the specialists they start making their repairs in the 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.

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. Especially younger generations no longer know how to do that. Knowing how to make repairs is a skill quickly lost. This is a threat to a sustainable future and to the circular economy, in which raw materials can be reused again and again.

In the Café, people with repair skills get the appreciation they deserve. Invaluable practical skills are passed on. Things are being used for longer and don’t have to be thrown away. This reduces the volume of raw materials and energy needed to make new products and therefore cuts CO2 emissions.

The Repair Café teaches people to see their possessions in a new light. And, once again, to appreciate their value. Repair Café volunteers also visit schools to give repair lessons. In both these ways, the Repair Café helps change people’s mindset. This is essential to kindle people’s enthusiasm for a sustainable society.

But most of all, the Repair Café just wants to show how much fun repairing things can be, and how easy it often is.

The Repair Café was initiated by Martine Postma. Since 2007, she has been striving for sustainability at a local level in many ways. Martine organised the very first Repair Café in Amsterdam in October 2009. It was a great success.

This prompted Martine to start the Repair Café Foundation. Since 2011, this non-profit organisation has provided professional support to local groups in the Netherlands and other countries wishing to start their own Repair Café. Besides the Netherlands, there are Repair Cafés in Belgium,  France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and in dozens of other countries around the world.

Something that you may want to start or add to an existing café?

See more details here.

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Geoff Knott, 12/07/2022

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