Think of that old broken microwave, torn sweater or broken vacuum cleaner.
Did you just want to throw it away?
There is another way – a greener way – and the Repair Café is leading the way.
Last seen in Pasadena, the pop-up repair shop, featuring volunteer tinkerers, seamstresses and electricians, fixes problems on how to fix the thing you’re about to throw away.
“Once people are here, they’re happy,” said Ginko Lee, director of Repair Café’s organization. “It’s almost like Christmas.”
One of the best parts? It’s all free. Volunteers are often able to repair most of the items brought to them.
At the last pop-up, a woman brought in a broken floor lamp. The cables were a mess and another part was broken.
But after some rewiring – and a bit of trial and error – it was as good as new.
“I’m hooked. I can’t wait to get back,” said Ashaki Denise Jones.
The Repair Café started in Amsterdam in 2009.
“We just want to create a culture where people fix their own items and appreciate them,” Lee said.
But even after a decade in Southern California, the concept isn’t as popular as it is overseas.
“I think Americans are used to buying. We’re used to buying our way out of problems,” said Anne Louise Bannon. Bannon sews old but salvageable clothes.
“We are a throwaway economy and that is criminal. We have to stop this attitude.”
Some volunteer fixers participate because of their profession. Some volunteer out of passion.
Bannon’s day job?
“I write detective stories,” she said.
Everyone is bursting at the seams to help.
“Fast fashion is a huge, massive problem,” Bannon said.
According to Earth.org, the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing every year.
Pasadena Vice Mayor Felicia Williams is also willing to sacrifice a Saturday to fix what she can do for her community.
“I am at the basic level of sewing. So I get the really basic stuff,” she said. “But you know, it’s nice to help wherever I can.”
Why doesn’t every city have a Repair Café?
“It’s not hard to get started,” Lee said. “And I think that’s something that makes sense.”
Repair Cafés want to promote a sustainable mindset. When something in your house stops working, resist the urge to throw it out. and find a way to save it.
“Nobody likes to do a lot of work, but you can learn so much about the world just by trying to fix things,” Michael said.
The next pop-up Repair Café will be held at Glendale Central Library on Saturday 20th May.