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Give your broken things new lives at Repair Cafe

Repair Cafes brings people with malfunctioning items and handymen together / Photo courtesy Transition Houston

by Eduardo de la Garza

Years ago, when your electronics stopped working, you fixed them instead of tossing them in the trash and adding to CO2 emissions required to make new products. Sometimes owners used their ingenuity to fix their own possessions if they couldn’t afford to take them to repairmen. Or maybe you were a child who used to love taking apart their toys to put them back together again. But with cheaper products, it’s gotten easier to buy something new.

Repairing your possessions is a lost art. We live in a world based on consumption. When you just throw thing away, it threatens sustainable future. We throw out so much of what we use. Personal consumption of durable goods add up to 8 percent of GDP, and non-durable goods add up to 15 percent, totaling about $4 trillion dollars annually. Much of what of what we discard an easily be fixed.

Obviously, we’re not talking about major repair jobs like a malfunctioning HVAC units or refrigerators; we’re talking about smaller electronics. Martine Postma from Amsterdam created the first event dedicated to bringing people with faulty things and repairmen together to give new lives to possessions and keeping them from winding up in landfills. The first Repair Café was held in 2008 as part of the Repair Café International Foundation. Since then, the event has grown globally, even in Houston.

From 1-4 p.m. June 24, at TXRX Labs on 6501 Navigation Blvd, Repair Café, co-sponsored by Citizens; Environmental Coalition, people are invited to bring in a broken, non-functioning items, small electronics and appliances, toys, bicycles, clothing, jewelry, etc. for repair. Or if you’re a handyman, stop by and help with repair jobs. It’s an all-inclusive event as people are free to watch and learn from seeing how things are taken apart and put together or read brochures or leaf through Do-It-Yourself books.

Handymen who can help lend their repair skills at the event are encouraged to stop by and show their expertise to help give broken down things new lives. Volunteers are also needed on the day of the event as guides and to assist with general coordination. Contact Steve.Stelzer@houstontx.gov to help.

Repair Cafes are collaborative events. They foster the idea of circular economies; the idea that we should recycle and refurbish existing goods for as long as we can. Circular economy is in stark contrast to consumption economy, in that we buy, buy, buy without paying heed to how it affects the environment. But circular economy helps minimize consumption of raw materials and minimizes waste.

Apart from that Repair Cafes brings people together. It teaches people that their broken things can have new lives. Some glue can patch up their chairs. Some solder can make their bicycles as good as new. Malfunctioning electronics don’t have to be dead. And interacting with handymen can teach people that you don’t have to take everything to a shop if you just watch and learn. You may not be able to fix your washing machine, but small electronics … come by and watch,

Come to the Repair Café on June 24 and participate in a collaborative event.