Pioneering repair cafe opens to help town extend life of products

by Search Gate staff. Published Mon 09 Mar 2016 21:28
New cafe helps to prolong the operational life of household items
New cafe helps to prolong the operational life of household items

The Centre for Sustainable Design at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) has collaborated with Transition Town Farnham to launch a new repair café in Farnham, Surrey.

The café aims to reduce waste and extend the life of products, breaking the cycle of “use, bin and replace” whilst providing a local social hub for free exchange of skills and know-how. With the next session on 14th March meeting again in Farnham’s United Reformed Church, the launch received over 50 attendees of all ages, including families, that came together to work on repair and upcycling projects.

A team of ten repairers helped with repairs whilst also providing product owners with expertise, advice and ideas on how to make reuse items or give them a longer life.

"The Farnham Repair Café is showing that many broken products just need to have a minor repair to extend their useful lives,” said Professor Martin Charter, Director of The Centre for Sustainable Design at UCA.

He added: “There are many products going to community recycling systems or landfill that, with small repairs, could be used for longer periods of time. The successful launch of repair café has indicated that there is an important role for such a community initiative in the Farnham repair ecosystem.”

Repair stations on the day included electronics, mechanics, bikes and clothing. BA (Hons) Interior Architecture & Design student from UCA, Bolanle Ogunnaike, visited the repair café’s launch with a skirt that had a broken zip, and was keen to replace it with a new zip that she’d bought. Repairer Ginny tacked and sewed in the new zip for Bolanle, finishing off the waist band by hand sewing.

"I think the repair café is a brilliant idea and should be well encouraged,” said Bolanle. “It stopped me from procrastinating over fixing my zip. It improves sustainability and will surely serve as a channel for more employment in the future."

Other repairs on the day included a lamp with a broken switch case, a rucksack with a damaged seam and a vacuum cleaner that had lost its suction due to a clogged up motor, which was subsequently cleared with another vacuum cleaner that had been repaired. There were around 10-15 repairs completed on at the launch, representing over 20 kilograms of product weight diverted from landfill.

The Centre for Sustainable Design and Transition Town Farnham are encouraging more local residents to come along to the repair café, which will be meeting once a month. At the next session, the team is hoping to have new repair stations for IT, which will be manned by a UCA technician, and furniture.

"The Farnham Repair Cafe is showing that creative thinking plays a key part in the life extension of broken, everyday equipment,” said Rob Simpson of Transition Town Farnham. “The simple act of working with hands and mind seems to release imaginative insights into new configurations of components that can restore a product's function. The broken product becomes a thing of value to us with the return of functionality through imaginative repair."

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