Two generations ago, most people could handle simple repairs, and most things manufactured were inherently repairable. Fast forward to our current state of fast consumerism, where things are made to be obsolete within 6 months. All that “instant garbage” has to go somewhere. But the bigger impact, the one we don’t witness, is all the materials extracted, then wasted, to turn raw materials into products that are then shipped overseas and trucked across the country to a store – only to break within a year.
But we’re starting to see people return to REPAIRS. Its resurgence can be attributed to many things: A growing maker movement sweeping the nation. People getting fed up with cheap crap. A feeling of pride that comes from being self-reliant. Or the emergence of repair events. It’s also encouraging to see the popularity of Patagonia’s Worn Wear program, which has put repairing clothing in the public eye and made it more accessible to more communities. Whatever the reasons, people are getting into repair all over the world. And it’s about time!
The Environmental Center operates a program called Rethink Waste Project. Through this program, we provide waste prevention/reduction education for Deschutes County residents through a partnership with Deschutes County Department of Solid Waste and our local garbage and recycling service providers. We work together to provide consistent information to the community regarding ideas for preventing waste in the first place, and options for responsible material management. You may be familiar with our Zero Waste stations at events around Bend, or perhaps you’ve seen a Rethink Waste presentation during a staff meeting or community gathering.
Since 2013, the Rethink Waste Project has organized 11 Repair Cafes – events that bring together volunteer ‘fixers’ and people with broken stuff. Our volunteers are hobbyists, professionals, and avid tinkerers. They attempt to repair broken items such as small furniture, appliances, jewelry, outdoor gear, clothes, and more. Our Repair Cafe events have fixed over 300 items and have provided DIY instructions on another 50. We just held our Fall Repair Cafe last Saturday, November 18th. But don’t worry! You can catch our Spring Repair Cafe on Thursday, April 5th at Ensworth Elementary School from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.