Repair cafés are spreading across the world – SalvoNews.com
Noord-Holland (Amsterdam), Holland – A repair cafe is where to go for advice on mending clothing, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, garden tools, computers, dishes and toys. Anything from a broken chair, toaster or even holes in a woollen sweater. Expert volunteers are on hand to help in the cafe and also in an online forum. This helps people to learn new skills while saving many items from ending up in landfill and also saves raw materials and energy used in making new products.
The idea started in the Netherlands in 2009 and with help from the Dutch government and is now spreading. The Dutch Repair Cafe Foundation now helps groups to start their own local repair cafe and has had enquiries from France following reports in the French press, and another from San Francisco.
Agence France Presse writes:
Volunteers of Amsterdam’s repair cafe are part of a network of 20 similar groups across Holland who mend broken household appliances and electronics, rather than relegating them to the trash heap, an all-too-easy choice in today’s consumer society. “People have simply lost the culture of repairs. We too easily throw away things that can be fixed,” said Martine Postma, the driving force behind the initiative at Amsterdam’s Repair Cafe. Here in a rented hall, saws, screwdrivers and electric cables hang from the walls. Four electronics enthusiasts and two seamstresses are hard at work, fixing a sound system and mending torn clothing. Postma, a former journalist, pulls a cell phone from her pocket which she bought a decade ago, saying: “It’s missing three keys on the keypad but otherwise it works fine. Surely there must be a way to fix it.” Convinced that no one enjoys throwing things away, Postma, 41, opened the first Repair Cafe in Amsterdam in 2009 “to bring together two groups of people: ‘repair volunteers’ and those who want to fix things but don’t know how.” Margreet Bakker, 57, brought in her vacuum cleaner, preferring the Repair Cafe to the manufacturer. “It’s much better to bring it here, rather than have it fixed by the manufacturer, who would charge the equivalent of a new vacuum cleaner,” she said. Bakker and Theo van den Akker, a tax consultant by profession, but also an electronics enthusiast, start probing the machine’s innards. They dismantle it, check its fan, test its electronics … and within an hour later identify the problem. Simple, really: a loose connection at the plug. With that fixed, the vacuum cleaner hums back to life. Visitors to the Repair Cafe, working with “fixers,” sometimes learn to do the repairs themselves. “Devices made today are less and less reliable and they last far less time than they used to,” lamented Van den Akker, 64, adding: “They are made less-and-less easy to take apart — they are not made to be fixed.” What started as a purely local initiative in Amsterdam, the Repair Cafe became an overnight success, far exceeding Postma’s expectations. The initial goal was to set up 18 Repair Cafes across the country by 2013. Today, around 20 are already up and running and another 50 are in the planning stages. Postma now works full-time for the Repair Cafe Foundation, which she founded in 2010.
And of course you can also have a drink and a chat while you are there.
- Dutch Cafe Doubles As Community Repair Shop (psfk.com)
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Tags: Agence France Presse, Amsterdam, france, Holland, Netherlands, new skills while saving many items from ending up in landfill, North Holland, Politics of the Netherlands, San Francisco