Published on November 30th, 2015 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

Repair Café Events Crowdsource Skills to Fix What’s Broken

A Repair Café is a local event where neighbors come together to mend everything from torn clothes to broken small appliances to furniture.

A Repair Café is a local event where neighbors come together to mend everything from torn clothes to broken small appliances to furniture.

Got a broken toaster, a favorite pair of jeans with a tear, or a vacuum cleaner that’s not picking up? More and more, our response to these challenges boils down to “toss it and buy another one.” Of course, as we’ve pointed our repeatedly over the years, tossing those products isn’t just a waste of the material of which they’re made, but also a waste of the energy, water, labor, and other resources that went into producing them. If we’re trying to live more sustainably, making an effort to repair these items is worth a shot.

But isn’t it cheaper to replace an item rather than fix it? Often, yes… unless you’ve got a Repair Café operating in your area. What’s a Repair Café? It’s an event where neighbors with knowledge of how to fix various items, and the tools to do it, gather to pitch in on repairing small appliances, clothes, dishes, furniture… basically, whatever they’ve got that needs fixing.

Started in Amsterdam in 2007, the Repair Café concept has spread throughout Europe, and to other parts of the world. A new one started operating yesterday, for instance, in Charlottesville, Virginia. You can see an overview in the video at the top of the page.

This particular event brought together a number of community organizations, including the Cville Time Bank (which allows participants to trade time as a currency), and Charlottesville Community Bikes. Each event takes on its own flavor, as there’s plenty of room for innovation in the Repair Café model.

But Wouldn’t This Undermine Local Repair Businesses?

If you’re running a repair shop of some kind, you’re probably struggling… again, people find it cheaper and/or more convenient to toss and replace. Would free repairs represents another nail in your coffin? Not necessarily: what’s hurting repair businesses is the “toss and replace” mindset. Repair Cafés help shift that mindset. As they’re not everyday events, or repair services, getting people to consider repairing items should ultimately help repair shops. I’d imagine that participating in these would be great PR…

This concept is still catching on in the US, but there are about 25 Repair Cafés operating around the country. Been to one, either with something to fix, or as a volunteer “fixer?” Tell us about your experience. If you’ve organized a Repair Café, we’d love to hear more about that, too.

Republished with permission from Sustainablog; image via Repair Cafe US Facebook page

Keep up with the latest in the world of green crafts by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!


Tags: , , , , , ,


About the Author

is the founder and editor ofsustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑

  • Let’s Connect!

  • Popular Posts + Pages


    How do I reuse...?

    The Crafting a Green World guide to choosing green art and craft supplies.

    Green Crafts for Kids

    DIY Ideas for Home

    Green Holiday Crafts, All Year Round

    Do you love toilet paper roll crafts as much as we do? Today we’re sharing 50 projects that you need to see!

    We’ve rounded up 25 incredible DIY crafts and activities that will make you rethink the average disk. Click through each link below and be inspired!

  • Back to Basics Ebook

    We are thrilled to have a project in Jen Gale’s guide to mending. Get your copy here!

  • Search the IM Network

  • The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.


Shares