REDUCE YOUR WASTE, LOWER YOUR FOOTPRINT
Where to repair your stuff in Brisbane
There’s a growing movement of repair cafés in Brisbane and around the world. Sam Mullen explains what a repair café is, why you should care about repairing and where to find your nearest repair café in Brisbane.
Put simply, a repair café is a place where skilled and dedicated volunteers give their time to repair broken or defunct items that may require rewiring, fixing, mending, tinkering with or any array of repair work.
If you visit one of the repair cafés, you can often buy a cup of coffee while you wait for your item to be fixed. Hence the ‘café’. You may also learn a thing or two about how to fix things yourself. This is also a great way to give back to the amazing volunteers who offer their repair skills completely for free.
Repair cafés are a fantastic place to bring any one-off broken items that may be out of warranty and/or expensive to replace. This could be a lawn mower, vacuum, bicycle or wooden chair, for example.
Some repair cafes operate on a booking system so you may need to book online in advance so the repair café can understand what needs fixing and match you up with someone who has a unique skill set to repair your item. While the process may change from café to café, your experience will generally follow the below steps:
- Find a repair café near you. The list in this article (below) is a great starting point.
- Check to see if the repair café takes bookings in advance with their online booking system. At this stage, they may want to know what your item is and how it’s broken. It’s best to only stick with items that you can physically carry into the café.
- The repair cafés operate on different days and in different places so it is best to work out which one is closest or most convenient to you. They will identify what may need to be done and if they have volunteers who can repair it, then they will schedule a time for you to meet with your volunteer.
- Enjoy the atmosphere of the community repair cafes – it is a wonderful way to connect with your local community. One day, you may even want to volunteer your time to repairing as it is such a great cause. You can sit and chat with your repairers, maybe grab a coffee and stay at the café while your item is being fixed.
- Most often you will leave with your repaired item and share the good word of repair cafés with your friends and family!
Remember, being a free service, repair cafés are operated by volunteers and may not always have the right skills or capacity to fix all the items you need repairing. However, it’s still worth having the item repaired instead of buying new (more on this below). So if the free repair cafés can’t fix your item, try supporting local businesses and go to a paid repair and restoration service, which can often be cheaper than buying new anyway. If repair is not possible, many repair cafés will be able to direct to recycling or reuse centres.
Nowadays, many products are built and designed poorly with short-life spans. Some are even deliberately designed to break down after a certain timeframe, forcing consumers to replace their products with the latest model (this is called planned obsolescence). Often, small issues or malfunctions within a complex product can make the whole thing unusable, even though one piece can be easily fixed or replaced.
By repairing your products when they are damaged, instead of throwing them out and buying new ones, you are extending their lifetime. Not only does this save you money (as you don’t have to buy an entirely new product) but it lowers CO2 emissions as most product manufacturing and transport is energy and fuel-intensive, emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It also reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfill.
Repair is one important step in the transition to a circular economy. You may have heard this term being thrown around as it’s gained a lot of popularity and acceptance in recent years. In short, the circular economy is a way for society to achieve a sustainable future by designing out waste and pollution, extending the life and value of products in our economy and doing so in a way that regenerates our natural systems. The below graphic from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce nicely shows how the lifetime of products can be extended through a circular economy:
Repair cafés are part of a global movement to give consumers the legal ‘right to repair’ their items – ensuring that if they repair their defunct products, they will still legally be covered under warranty. Increasing the awareness and understanding of repairing will help our community move away from a ‘make-take-waste’ way of consuming and instead focus on keeping materials, products and resources circulating throughout our economy for longer, which is better for the environment and often, better for households and businesses budgets. Learn more about why we really need to be able to fix our stuff or visit the Australian Repair Network, spearheaded here in Brisbane by Griffith University.
Repair cafés in Brisbane and surrounds:
Check out the below list to see if there’s a repair café near you.
When: Every 4th Saturday of the month, 9am to 12:30 pm, no booking required
Contact: email@example.com, 0450 062 543.
When: Every 2nd Saturday of the month, 2pm to 4pm, bookings preferred, walk-ins welcome
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 0474 095 560
When: First event, 25th June 2022, no booking required
Contact: email@example.com, 0428 439 001
When: Every 1st Saturday of the month, 8:30am-11:30am, bookings required
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org , (07) 32843081
When: Once per month, alternating Saturday morning (8:30am to 12:30pm) and Sunday afternoon (12:30 pm to 4:30 pm), no booking required
When: Every 3rd Saturday of the month, 9am to 12:00 noon, no booking required
When: Every 2nd & 4th Thursday of the month, 9am-2pm
When: 2nd Saturday, every other month, 10am-1pm, bookings required
When: Varies, bookings required.
Facebook: Repair Café UQ EWB
When: Walk-ins available. Bookings in advance via email is preferred.
Facebook: Stafford Repair Cafés
When: Various, bookings required.
When: Every Wednesdays and Fridays, 9am to 12.30pm, bookings preferred, walk ins welcome.
Contact: email@example.com, (07) 5545 4968
Facebook: Tamborine Mountain Repair Café
When: Saturdays, 8.30am to 11.30am. Bookings required.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, toollibrary.org.au
When: 1st Saturday of the month,1pm to 4pm.
Contact: email@example.com, (07) 3287 2840
If you would like to learn more about repair café, or see a map of all the Australian locations, visit the Australian Repair Network website.