Repair Café aims to slow down consumerism - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Repair Café aims to slow down consumerism

July 18th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Repair Café aims to slow down consumerism
Community
1

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

Melissa Anderson says the cycle of American consumerism is unsustainable. You can buy new goods for about the same, if not less, than it would cost to repair them. But should we?

“We’re trying to slow the consumerism process of just buy a thing and use it. ‘Oh, it broke and it’s on sale, so I’ll just throw this in the trash and go buy a new one.’ Well, every time I put something in the trash like that, I think, ‘what if 6 billion other people put it in the trash?’”

Anderson, the office administrator at the First Church of the Nazarene in Chandler, decided to do something about that.

She asked the church’s pastor and board if she could start a Repair Cafe based out of the church.

The second Repair Cafe is scheduled for July 23. Chandler residents can bring a household item that is in need of repair, and her team of volunteers will do their best to fix it.

The first Repair Cafe at the church was held in the spring and Anderson said they repaired 65 items for free. There were only four items they could not repair. Anderson said that was because they didn’t have the proper equipment, in this case a TIG welder.

They did fix furniture, clothing, sofa cushions, zippers, buttons, stuffed animals, a hairdryer, a cell phone, weed hackers and a 1959 rotary phone.

“The nature of Repair Cafe is that we’re assisting the owner with learning to fix it,” Anderson said. 

She said they want to educate people so they know how to make the repairs themselves, or they can show their family, friends and neighbors if they have a similar problem.

That’s because the Repair Cafe is only offered four times a year.

“It helps to keep stuff out of the landfill, but it also empowers people to know that they’re not at the mercy of manufacturers who are creating things to be [disposable],” Anderson said. “It almost becomes more valuable to you when you know you were the one who fixed it.”

Anderson got the idea for Repair Cafe while doing Mend with a Friend. She and a friend would offer to help people fix whatever clothing problems they were having. She realized that this could go beyond textiles.

With a little research she discovered the Repair Cafe International Foundation started in The Netherlands in 2009. Today, it has more than 2,200 chapters around the world. There are two in Arizona, with the other location in the Tucson area.

She applied for a grant after getting permission from church officials and was awarded one. Most of the money went to getting the word out. Also, it is an actual cafe with food and beverages served while items are being prepared.

She had more than 30 volunteers at the first Repair Cafe. She didn’t have an exact number because she thought there were a few who didn’t register. They ranged in age from 10 or 11 to senior citizens.

To volunteer or to start a Repair Cafe in another community, visit repaircafe.org. There is also a Chandler Repair Cafe Facebook page where anyone interested in volunteering can do so.

Anderson asks people bring in just one item per event, and that they must be able to carry it. If it’s too big to carry, then it’s probably too big for them to work on.

In addition to keeping goods out of landfills and teaching people how to make their own repairs, Anderson said this project serves another purpose.

Part of her role at the church is to bring people together and help build a community in Chandler.

“I had to pull together a team from the community,” she said. “Well, I can pull the team together from anywhere, but I wanted to get people from different places in the community.”

She built out her core volunteers, and then they reached out to others they knew. Soon, a community was forming.

“They all know different circles of people. And so they went on to recruit volunteers and sponsors and the people to bring in their things to repair.” 

Repair Cafe

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, July 23

Where: First Church of the Nazarene, 301 N. Hartford St.

Cost: Free

Limitations: Please bring only one item that you can carry. Nothing bigger.

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