It may have become a bit overused to quote a dystopian novel every time something is happening in society that you don’t like, but it does not make “ending is better than mending” and “the more stitches, the less riches” from Brave New World any less applicable to today. We throw away vast amounts of stuff, even when it is items that have almost nothing wrong, and one simple repair could mean an entire new lease on life. And yet, most of us opt for the trashcan and subsequent store visit well before we think of the repair store.
The problem is not due to laziness, but rather lack of knowledge. Lots of people have forgotten that they can repair things themselves, or they no longer know how. Our technology has gotten so good, and we have so many items so available to us, that we no longer place a need on teaching the next generation how to properly repair things. Don’t worry, this article is not one long complaint, but rather is about one grassroots group looking to fix that in our very city; Repair Cafe Toronto.
Repair Café Toronto is a grassroots, volunteer coalition that organizes events where neighbours help neighbours learn how to repair. Repair Café Toronto was founded by a small collection of Torontonians residing within the city who support the repair movement started by Repair Café Foundation in Amsterdam back in 2009. The Repair Café Foundation, more broadly, is an international activist organization that aims to build a more sustainable society and counter the throwaway mindset by orchestrating monthly gatherings in which volunteer “fixers” help visitors learn how to repair their possessions, and completely free of charge! Events sanctioned by the Toronto chapter are often hosted by local community centres, branches of the Toronto Public Library, and other community-based organizations.
Repair Café Toronto had its first RTCC visit in 2017, and was repeated this past summer, and after tremendous success, it was decided that they’d soon be back on January 12th, just after the Christmas break. This date was not only decided because it fit with the group’s scheduling, but more importantly, because it comes after people are looking to get rid of old items that have been replaced by the new – especially toys, that may need just a little TLC to be happily used by another child. And then there are the new items that were a little too enthusiastically used and could use a bit of first aid.
Everyone feels pressure to get gifts regardless of how much (or how little) they earn, but why is it never considered that maybe taking what’s already old as new can be just as good? As a special bonus, Repair Café Toronto gives everyone who comes to their events a gift that no matter how many times used can ironically NEVER be broken: knowledge!
The Repair Café aims to build a culture where repairing rather than throwing out is the norm. Café volunteers demonstrate to people the possibility of getting things fixed. At the Repair Café, we advise people who need further help with their broken items to access the services of local professionals who are still in the business of repair. Nothing is being taken from anybody as a result of doing these events, the only things that change are the items and (hopefully) the mentality of people who own them with regards to repairs!
See you January 12th!