Repair is having a moment. 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 (“planned obsolescence)” within 6 months. Sometimes that’s through new colorful designs, sometimes by changing power cords, but often goods are now poorly made and will just break within the year. We’re working to earn money, we spend that money on stuff, and that stuff quickly breaks, forcing us to buy it again. It’s costing us money, and it’s costing our planet.
All that “instant garbage” has to go somewhere. But the bigger impact, the one we don’t witness, is all the materials extracted/mined/logged, then burned/released/wasted to turn various raw materials into products, that are then shipped over seas then trucked across the country then bought at a store – only to break within the year.
Enter repair. It’s back. It’s resurgence can be attributed to many things – a growing maker movement sweeping the nation. People getting fed up with cheap crap that fails us time and time again. A feeling of being self-reliant and taking care of one’s things. The popularity of Patagonia’s Worn Wear program. Or the emergence of repair events where people who don’t know how to repair their stuff can connect with people who can. Whatever the reasons, people are getting into repair all over the world.
Repair Cafe.org, the origination of the Repair Café idea, has been tracking repair cafe events all over the world. As of 2017, there are 1400 repair cafes in 33 countries! And it’s especially taking off in America, where the idea has seen a lot of recent press. Even here in Oregon, there have been many state level funding options (DEQ’s reuse/repair business grants and Business Oregon’s Small Business Expansion Program) aimed at repair businesses, recognizing it as both a growing economy sector as well as it’s potential to prevent waste and resource use by keeping things in use longer.