Repair Cafe fixes a steam cleaner and more

BY GREG LOWENTHAL AND MARK ELGIE

Headphones undergoing repairs at the Repair Cafe. (Photo by Greg Lowenthal/The Sheridan Sun)
Headphones undergoing repairs at the Repair Cafe. (Photo by Greg Lowenthal/The Sheridan Sun)

The student centre at Davis Campus was buzzing with the sounds of tools and a steam cleaner getting unclogged as the Repair Cafe was in full effect March 17.

The event, similar to the one that took place at Trafalgar Campus in October, allows the public to bring in broken items such as appliances, computers or even clothing to be fixed for free.

The volunteer repair staff also go through a step-by-step process to evaluate the condition of the item to assess whether it can be repaired or if it needs to be scrapped. If the item is deemed repairable, then the repair staff set out to fix it.

“They fixed a Magic Bullet, which is a juicer, they fixed headphones, [now] clothing fixers are helping a visitor to fix her bag,” said event organizer Wai Chu Cheng, of the Office of Sustainability.

Repair Café was launched in Toronto in 2013 to try to reduce waste and change the throwaway mentality. It is a relatively new concept, allowing almost any item to be brought in and fixed.

But it isn’t just a simple repair job. The volunteer staff there also explain what was wrong with it and how they fixed it, so that the next time there’s a problem, owners may have an idea of how to fix the item themselves.

In the past, items such as a lamp, a lawnmower, a stereo system and headphones have been brought in. According to the staff, about 70 per cent of items are fixed.

“I think it’s great, because, otherwise, I would just be getting rid of this piece of equipment, and having to buy another one,” said Kellie Hayward, a faculty member at the Pilon School of Business and the first customer at the Davis Repair Cafe.

“Sustainability, making sure the environment is taken care of, I think it’s a great initiative. It’s fantastic.”

The idea is becoming so popular that there could be events all over Canada in the near future.

“I have actually talked to different cities as well,” said Cheng.

“People actually contact us wanting to know how to start a Repair Cafe and this morning I had an interview with CBC in Saskatchewan, and they are starting up their first Repair Cafe in Regina this Saturday. They wanted to know what we have been doing here for the last three years in Toronto.”

“I know that Canada seems to be getting a growing number of Repair Cafes in different cities, I think there’s about, maybe, 10 or 20 cafes right now, in Canada.”

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