Repair Café in Bengaluru is rejuvenating the dying skill of repairing things we would normally discard. This also ensures that less stuff ends up in garbage dumps and landfills and people reuse objects instead on spending money on buying new ones.
There used to be a time, usually Sunday mornings, when grandpa, dad or uncle would be found busily working on the outside patio. In his hands would be some tools and in front of him an old radio or mixie or a bicycle in need of fixing. Similarly, grandmas and moms and aunts were masters at repairing old clothes on their always handy sewing machines.
We all have such memories, of more frugal and austere times, when to waste or throw away things was considered almost criminal. We Indians have an innate zest for repair and reuse and Repair Café is bringing it right back to us.
If you are in Bangalore, walk into the next workshop that Repair Café organizes. You can carry electrical kitchen equipment, old cameras, small household furniture items, jewellery, or clothes and get them repaired here. Repair Café has a team of expert repair volunteers who take on the role donned by our elders some years ago. It also has an array of repairing equipment you are welcome to try your hand at.
You can hang out at the workshop, get stuff repaired and pick up some repairing skills yourself.
A minimal registration fee of Rs 50 is charged, for which you can get one item fixed. If you have more items in need of fixing, a nominal fee is charged based on indicative prices that are pre-fixed. This is not the case always – some expert volunteers do not charge any money at all!
The Repair Café is the brain child of Martine Postma. She started the first Repair Café in The Netherlands in 2007. Today, there are over a thousand Repair Cafés across the world. The Bengaluru Repair Café was started by two women who believe in sustainable living – Antara Mukherji and Purna Sarkar. Antara is a graphic designer and Purna is a human resources professional. They are working tirelessly towards hosting more workshops, getting expert volunteers and raising funds to take Repair Café places.
They also organize interesting Do-It-Yourself workshops. One of the workshops focused on how to give old smart phones new avatars like that of a CCTV, a local intercom network or an offline navigator.
About 15 kg of old clothes, electronics, electrical items, jewellery and wooden equipment were fixed at the last Repair Cafe workshop in Bengaluru. All these items, that would otherwise have been mindlessly discarded to choke the overflowing landfills outside the city, got a new lease on life. The Repair Cafe also estimates that the workshop helped prevent 6.9 kg of CO2 emissions through the humble art of repairing.
When such good impact is also accompanied by some camaraderie and learning, there is more reason to learn how to repair and reuse objects in everyday life.