Repair Cafe: If It’s Broken, Fix It!

By Brianna van de Wijngaard –

The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society (CCCS) hosted its first ever Repair Café on Saturday, May 11 at the Potato House in Williams Lake. The weather was perfect, and it was heartwarming to see how many people love to use and share skills that are almost becoming a lost art.

Photo by Pat Teti

The Repair Café concept itself is not new. The first Repair Café happened in Amsterdam on October 18, 2009 and they continue today in countries all around the world. The idea is pretty simple, but with multiple benefits: you bring the thing you think is broken and work with Repair Café volunteers on how it might be fixed. Often, it can be fixed, and it is simply a lack of knowledge and skill to get the job done. This not only reduces the waste of having discarded the item and the waste created producing the replacement that is inevitably purchased; it also increases the abilities of those who attend to fix items in the future and creates new connections and friendships. In a town as friendly and resourceful as Williams Lake, the CCCS thought the event would be a great fit.

The idea of a Repair Café also combats planned obsolescence, which is the theory that some products are manufactured to either break down within a certain period of time, and/or intentionally made difficult to repair. When you dig into the theory of planned or built-in obsolescence, you find some pretty crazy details that make you feel duped enough to want to fix that ratty yet comfortable sweater, if only entirely out of principle. In short, those reading this can be sure that the theory of planned obsolescence is, for the most part, true. But we cannot blame manufacturers alone for this practice: consumers who desire new items for reasons other than necessity are also to blame.

Perhaps the one light at the end of the tunnel is that many retro or refurbished household items are cool again, and they are also often easier to repair. And there are quality and well-made products out there that are worth investing in, if we are willing to use them for the long haul. But with manufacturers responding to the consumer’s desire for the latest and greatest, in many instances there is no way around it. The right to choose and produce products that last and do not sacrifice the environment is exercised less than it ever has.

So, we encourage folks to learn a lost skill, save some dough, and keep wearing their favourite sweater for another 10 years. Follow our facebook page @CCCSociety to find out about our next Repair Café or check out our Waste Wise page at www.ccconserv.org to find our Repair-It brochure, a guide to many local businesses providing repair services.

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