At Amsterdam’s busy Repair Café crowds of different people come to the community center with various items that are not working properly — the broken objects will be repaired for free by volunteers who love to fix things, as well as teach others how to make simple repairs. The social environment the cafe creates not only enables individuals to divert waste, share their knowledge, develop skills and save resources, but also helps to strengthen local communities and foster meaningful connections among neighbors and strangers.
The DIY model was devised as a method to reduce landfill waste (although the Netherlands puts less than 3% of its municipal waste into landfills, there’s always room for improvement), and the Repair Café concept has become hugely successful since its initial inception in Holland nearly three years ago.
In order to support this sustainable venture, the Repair Café Foundation was founded to help raise $525,000 through a grant from the Dutch government and from small individual donations. Martine Postma is a former journalist and parent who helped start the Repair Café. In a recent NY Times article she offered her insight into what inspired this popular project:
“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.
Sustainability discussions are often about ideals, about what could be. After a certain number of workshops on how to grow your own mushrooms, people get tired. This is very hands on, very concrete. It’s about doing something together, in the here and now.”
This simple concept has grown so popular that the Repair Café Foundation is now assisting different groups with specific information and models explaining how to help get their own local community fix-it centers started. The foundation has already gotten inquiries from France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, South Africa and Australia.
all images are via the Repair Café