Something’s Broken? Don’t Throw it Away, go to a Repair Cafe in the Netherlands
In the futuristic dystopia envisioned by Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World, society relies on rampant consumerism to maintain the economy and keep people distracted. To ensure that products continue to fly off the shelves, citizens learn phrases such as “ending is better than mending,” and “more stitches less riches,” to teach them that one should always buy new products and throw away old ones instead of fixing the old ones. Everybody recites these phrases to each other all the time, without really thinking about what they’re saying.
If you think about modern society, you find that it is not too far off from Huxley’s fictional one, at least in terms of consumerism. Manufacturers will often design their products so that they will be unusable after a short period of time in order to keep selling their products. Consumers prefer to buy new products and keep up with the latest trends instead of fixing old ones. The obvious consequence is that we throw away a lot of products and materials that end up in dumps and landfills. This way of life may be sustainable for the economy, but it certainly isn’t sustainable for the environment. But who has the time, skill, or money to try to fix, or pay someone to fix, all of their broken or faulty items?
Martine Postma conceived a brilliant idea to help solve this ongoing problem. In her home city of Amsterdam, she started the first ever Repair Café, a place where people can go to fix their broken toaster or favorite pair of pants, completely free of charge. Repair Cafés are run by volunteers who gather a few times a week to share their skills and knowledge with visitors who have broken items that need fixing.
To be able to reach more people, Postma started the Repair Café Foundation, which provides support and information to those who want to organize their own Repair Café. As a result, there are now over 350 locations in fourteen different countries. If you live near one of these locations, consider making a visit to a Repair Café to save money, reduce waste, and meet new people the next time you’re thinking of throwing out a broken item. You may find that the thing you were about to throw away actually has a lot of life left in it, and you’ll be able to use it for years to come. If you don’t live near a Repair Café location, consider starting your own or finding other people who might be interested!
In reality, mending is often better than ending
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