My Repair Café Experience by Monika Kowalska

Volunteering at the Repair Café is an experience that I will not soon forget. Being a student in an environmental program, I quickly realized how wasteful our society has become. It has become the norm for most people today to throw something out without a second thought because it’s more convenient to go buy the same item at the store then to try to get it fixed. I know that I’m guilty of this, and I’m sure you probably are too. But can anyone blame us? Companies are unwilling to fix the broken items. There aren’t enough technicians in the area that have the knowledge to fix various things and the shipping to and from the company may actually cost you more than just buying a new one.  But we can change. With some education, and a little guidance, we can learn to veer away from this habit that is unhealthy for the environment, Earth, our home.

Most of the items going to the landfill these days work perfectly fine, the only thing being wrong with it are a loose wire, or a small piece that’s broken and just needs to be replaced. Most problems we could probably fix ourselves, if we only know what the problem was to begin with.

And this is the goal at Repair Café. Repair Café is a free event where consumers bring in their broken items that are fixed by volunteers that are more than happy in helping out not only you, the consumer, but also the environment by diverting perfectly good working products out of the landfills and back into your homes to be used for many more years to come. Many volunteers have showed up at the event, ready to not only fix your item but to also educate you on how to go about fixing small items around the house yourself. In a few hours’ time, a total of 35 items have been brought in and I can proudly say that 87% of those items have been saved from the landfill. That only takes into account the items that have been fixed that day. Some items couldn’t be fixed on the spot because a new part was needed but the customers were grateful nonetheless.  Thanks to the volunteers, one customer now knows what the problem was (the belt on the vacuum was broken) and after the part is purchased, he also knows how to replace it because the volunteer has showed him how.  Another good example, two electronic pieces came in to be fixed (electric knife and a switch operator for a La-Z-Boy chair) and the only problem with both of them was a wire that was out of place. Easily fixable, just needed to put it back in its place. Many various items have come through the doors: toaster ovens, coffee makers, steamers, leaf blower, laptops, bikes, just to name a few, and there were many happy customers leaving with their fixed items, grateful to the volunteers that have helped and educated them on fixing small items.

It was great to see so many people are willing to volunteer their time in helping to protect the environment and I will continue in trying to do my part by helping out at this event. You can do your part too! If you don’t know how to fix items, it’s okay. Your part in this could be by bringing broken items to these events and getting them fixed! You can help divert waste from landfills by telling your family and friends not to throw out an item but instead to come to the Repair Café and have one of the volunteers take a look at it. Together, we can make a positive impact on the environment by not only educating ourselves but also educating future generations to not be so wasteful.

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