The rise of repair: Why you should visit a Repair Café

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ElectroRecycle has collaborated with Repair Cafés for several years now to encourage the repair of small appliances and power tools, and promote the 5 R’s of the waste reduction hierarchy: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, and Recycle. Repair Cafes are community gatherings, where visitors can get their broken household items fixed for FREE. At the event, knowledgeable volunteers give advice and help to fix broken household items.

It’s exciting to see the rise of repair both globally and right here in British Columbia! We’re seeing Repair Cafe initiatives popping up across many communities. And since small appliances and power tools are some of the most commonly repairable items, we figured it logical for our recycling program to partner with them. Thus, at some Repair Cafes in BC, ElectroRecycle offers attendees an opportunity to recycle their small appliance or power tool on-site if it can’t be fixed. This ensures that even if the appliance is beyond repair, it won’t end up in a landfill.

But why is a Repair Café worth visiting? And just how much is being repaired? Let’s take a look at the Port Coquitlam Repair Café as an example.

It’s likely your small appliances will be repaired

ElectroRecycle is now a regular participant at the Port Coquitlam Repair Café. There have been seven repair café events hosted by the City of Port Coquitlam since June 2019. The events’ success is largely due to skilled volunteers and the City’s dedication to building a community keen to reduce waste.

Which items can you bring in for repair?

Thanks to Mahdis Araujo, a City of Port Coquitlam staff member, for helping us put these graphs together. They show which types of items were most commonly brought to the Port Coquitlam Repair Café:

Graph of item types brought to Port Coquitlam Repair Cafe

Clothing, textiles, small appliances, and power tools are the most common items brought to these events.

Graph of the small appliances and power tools brought to Port Coquitlam Repair Cafe

Of the small appliances and power tools brought in for repair, vacuums and fans were the most commonly repaired items.

According to the data gathered above, there is approximately a 70% chance that you will go home with a fixed product. Very encouraging isn’t it!?

Not only is the item repaired, but attendees also spend time learning how to repair it, and can build their own repair skills. In addition, we often hear how residents feel these events bring their communities together and deepen their sense of belonging.

Repair in Metro Vancouver

In August 2019, ElectroRecycle also began partnering with MetroVan Repair Cafés, an organization that facilitates events all over Vancouver’s Lower Mainland. The organization brings together volunteers from Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, White Rock, and more! It also regularly collaborates with other repair organizations like Repair Matters, Frameworq, and Free Geek. MetroVan Repair Cafes organized four repair café events in 2019, each located in a different community. Their objective is to provide a repair opportunity to as many people as possible, and the results have been very encouraging. A total of 257 individual items have been brought in for repair since the start of the Metro Vancouver Repair Café. As a result of the events, 153 items have been fixed to date.

Repairing an electrical item at repair event

Speaking to the Vancouver Sun, Dan Withers, an electrical engineer and one of the founders of the Metro Van Repair Café, said “a broken blender is a perfect example of what can be easily fixed. But the era of the small repair shop is long gone — tin smiths, fix-it shops, clock and repair shops, vacuum specialists have slowly disappeared. It can cost $30 just to have someone look at your blender, and an hourly rate to repair. Most people would just give up and buy a new one.”

That’s just one more reason why we love repair cafés. They’ve revitalized repair as an affordable, viable option that can connect individuals within their community.

ElectroRecycle’s role at Repair Cafés

Our main objective is to keep small appliances and power tools out of the landfill. When possible we attend alongside Repair Cafes to both promote repair and collect small appliances and power tools that are beyond repair for recycling. We also aim to spread awareness about the variety of electrical items (400+ types) that our program accepts. Above all, we want British Columbians to know how to recycle these items, ensuring proper disposal at their end-of-life. Check out our infographic to learn more about our recycling process.

Don’t miss the next event!

Check our events page to discover the Repair Cafes we will be in attendance at. If you would like us to attend or help promote your upcoming Repair Cafe in BC, please feel free to reach out to us via social media or email at info@cesarecycling.ca.

You can also lookup these Repair Cafe organizations to find out more about their upcoming events:

Please note that due to COVID-19 many Repair Cafe events have been put on hold. Although some in-person and virtual events are beginning to resume, so stay tuned!

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