I recently read an article in the New York Times featuring the emergence of "Repair Cafes" in the Netherlands and I thought, "I sure would love one of these around!" Repair Cafe are events to which members of the community can bring whatever they want to have repaired - get this - at no cost, by volunteers who just like to fix things. Conceived by Martine Postma, Repair Cafes lead efforts to address our modern "throwaway culture" - a culture I'm totally guilty of being a part of at times.

I have a pile of dresses on my futon that have needed a little TLC for months and my trusty mac charger of 4 years is functional but dangerously frayed. I've found that the cost of getting these everyday items "professionally" repaired often equates to a hefty portion of the price I originally paid for the items,  discouraging my budget-conscious student self from getting them repaired. And many times, I don't know where to go to get seemingly simple things repaired; who the heck can I turn to to get my stapler working again? It doesn't really make sense, but this all leads me to dispose of what I already own to purchase cheaper (and thus seemingly even more disposable) alternatives or replacements. Repair Cafes would provide opportunities for budget conscious individuals like me to make both wallet friendly and sustainable choices. Plus, I would finally be able to wear my favorite Zara dress out again.

The social implications of Repair Cafes resonate with me possibly even more than the ecological ones. This quote from the article particularly caught my attention:

I just love the idea of getting together with like-spirited people around me to use our individual skills to not only get rid of each others' headaches but also grow closer as a community through humble but significant actions. I could repair well-loved books or repaint old furniture while lending my ear to a spirit in need... I hope that the US follows the footsteps of the Netherlands - how lovely would that be to have a Repair Cafe in town? In the meantime, I'll pick up more manual skills to offer to the community.

What do you think of the concept of Repair Cafes? Would your town benefit from one? What would you bring to be repaired? What skills could you contribute?

Original image by Ilvy Njiokiktjien for the New York Times

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