‘Repair Cafes’ in Amsterdam

As an effort to bury a throwaway culture, volunteers have created a space to fix things that were assumed to be broken. Conceived of as a way to help people reduce waste, the Repair Cafe concept has taken off since its debut two and a half years ago. The Repair Cafe Foundation has raised about $525,000 through a grant from the Dutch government, support from foundations and small donations, all of which pay for staffing, marketing and even a Repair Cafe bus.

Thirty groups have started Repair Cafes across the Netherlands, where neighbors pool their skills and labor for a few hours a month to mend holey clothing and revivify old coffee makers, broken lamps, vacuum cleaners and toasters, as well as at least one electric organ, a washing machine and an orange juice press.

In Europe, we throw out so many things…It’s a shame, because the things we throw away are usually not that broken. There are more and more people in the world, and we can’t keep handling things the way we do.

The value of the Repair Cafe is that people are going back into a relationship with the material things around them. William McDonough, an architect, said, “What happened with planned obsolescence is that it became mindless — just throw it away and don’t think about it.” His “cradle to cradle” design philosophy posits that things should be built so that they can be taken apart and the raw materials reused (though not necessarily repaired ad nauseam).

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1 Comment

  1. A fantastic idea. Every neighborhood should have one.

    Reply

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