The repair revolution

 In Get involved

“I’m sorry, sir/madam, it’s not worth repairing; it would be cheaper to buy a new one.”

How many times have you heard that phrase, I wonder, as you reluctantly consign it to the bin? The words of American retailing analyst, Victor Lebow, speaking shortly after WW2, might help us understand how this state of affairs has come about:

“Our economy … demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals … we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.”

However, an initiative started by Martine Postma in Holland in 2009, called The Repair Cafe, offers a welcome alternative route and is now sweeping across the globe with over 1,300 cafés worldwide. It’s very simple. People take their items – be they electronic, furniture, clothing, bicycles, garden tools or household appliances – either to be repaired by qualified experts or to be shown how to repair them themselves. It can be a real community event too, with the passing on of skills from one generation to another and a chance to meet other members in one’s area and make new friends.

We recently visited an ‘outreach’ of the Tiverton Repair Cafe held in Bampton and witnessed first-hand how effective such an initiative can be. For instance, two ladies were fully occupied repairing and remodelling clothing that had been brought in by local people, while a pedal bike was being re-tuned and a DAB digital radio was being repaired. All this is undertaken on a voluntary basis, with donations from those whose items are being repaired going towards the cost of hiring the premises. It’s a win-win for all involved – including, of course, the environment, with less stuff going to landfill.

Members of the Blackdown Hills Transition Group are considering setting up a Repair Cafe in the Blackdown Hills and would love to hear from you if you’d be willing to share your skills, from time to time, on a Saturday morning. So, if you’d like to be part of the conversation, please email Trisha Comrie at or phone 01823 602 908.

To quote The Repair Cafe slogan: “Bin it? No way!”



Start typing and press Enter to search