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A Quick-start guide to setting up your own repair cafe

Reduce, Reuse and Repair at the Repair cafe!

What is a Repair Cafe?

Let’s imagine a world, a world where when something stops working, you don’t think about all the money that you have to spend for buying a replacement, or all the environmental and social footprint that comes along with buying something new. But instead, you know a place where things are not thrown away just because it stops working. A place, a cafe where people from different backgrounds, cultures, ages, and skills come together to fix their broken or damaged items. A community lead space, a repair café of our dreams, where a community of hope, caring for the planet and sharing of knowledge, skills and time are revived, and we live it all.

Didn’t this very thought of a repair café put a smile on your face when you read through and imagined it? It was a beautiful feeling, right? Infact, repairing is much more empowering than it sounds. This isn't just a dreamy paragraph or feeling, but people across the world are setting up repair cafes in their community and it is REAL. Take a look at how heartwarming this whole revolution is: Community Climate Action: Upcycling and mending at the Repair Café | Friends of the Earth.

The older generations think about repairing more than us younger generations. The mindset of our society has been pushed towards disposing and trashing instead of reusing and repairing. So much so that we don't even think of repairability. Infact the push towards such a society is a monopoly hold the industries want to have. They make it illegal sometimes to even repair their products, leave alone the designing which does not allow for repairability! But still, there are so many people who can mend, fix and make the broken things work again. They are wired differently, and so can you be!

Repairing is caring, caring for you, your family, your friends, and your planet.

But should everyone know everything? or learn all the different skills? Well, if you are interested, why not? But if not, we must be able to at least approach a skilled person who can help us out! That is where Repair cafe brings together the community who have the skills and intention to help each other out. Especially when everyone cannot afford new things and hence repairing helps them to not empty out their pockets! Listen it from the beautiful Melbourne Repair Cafe!

There are so many aspects towards a Repair Cafe - economic, environmental and societal! Every society needs one. But how should you start it out? Where do you start it out? Here are some little tips and a quick guide to start one with your friends to begin with! Let’s wait no more!

What do we need to set up our own repair cafe?

  1. Handpicked Skilled human beings (Good at mending electrical and mechanical items, sewing, carpentry and more)

  2. Half a dozen enthusiastic volunteers who can guide on the repair cafe event day

  3. A large vessel, we mean, a good public space to host everyone

  4. Cutleries and tools of repair

  5. Package free refreshments for the Earth lovers

  6. Tables and chairs to sit down and repair (or bake? :P)

  7. Signboards to display the reservations(Segregate electrical from sewing and carpentry and so on)

  8. Lots of planning and scheduling

Before we get onto the kitchen table and start integrating our ingredients for the repair cafe, let’s also tune in to what the Repair cafe at Manchester has to say on how to start a repair cafe. This comes from their own experience and is a great place to refer to!

You to-do Quickstart guide

If you are setting up a repair cafe at a school, or your neighborhood or perhaps in a community center that encourages such spaces, it becomes easier to get the legalities finished and it becomes easier to gather people as well.

☐First, prepare the community and authorities at school, or in the neighborhood, as to why the Repair cafe is necessary! Perhaps if anyone is willing to share their garage space occasionally to repair things with people gathering around, that is a huge win for a start. Eventually a permanent space can be identified

☐Next, Set up a large vessel, oops, space - If at school, your school electrical laboratory could be a good place to set up a temporary cafe! A lot of infrastructure might already be available. If in the neighborhood, someone who wants to volunteer their garage space or so can be helped to set things up! You can set up the tables and chairs, display the reservations and categories.

☐Marinate a list of resources - People who own tools can bring along their cutleries/tools and help build the tool library for a start. Setup a database of skilled people(parents, teachers, staff), it could be for electrical or mechanical or sewing or carpentry too! Repair café can be more than just electronics, right?

A list of equipment or tools or links to manuals that people are willing to share for the repair café when necessary. Here is a list of manuals for a start.

☐Preheat the oven and get the cooking started – Who will be the different stakeholders, managers, maintenance of forums/platforms of communication, database maintenance, putting down what the repair café would be for – either on demand when a lot of members want to meetup or a fixed timely meetup or skilling workshop center(skilled people can take skilling seminars) or a mix of everything. Also appointing someone to set up feedback and data collection of what was avoided from going to landfill! Basically get your structure in place.

☐ Get the seasoning right - Some basics can be thought of if not already available, ex: tables, chairs, Extension/junction boxes, 1 or 2 desktops where people can refer to and especially equipments like Multimeter(s), Screwdriver kit(s), Spanner kit(s), Soldering iron and accessories, Testers, Glue guns, Insulation tapes and more!

☐ Whisk it all up - There is definitely a lot of planning necessary, but dont worry, it will come together and will be one of the best ways to get people together!

☐ Garnish with love, care and respect for each other, for the community and especially for mother Earth, whose resources we vouch to not exploit. Remember, we are trying to be conscious of not throwing away something. But also conscious of not buying in too much as well, always try to go with checking if there are things that exist already and if that can be used. This would make the café you are setting up more and more sustainable!

Taking a great idea to many spaces

Repair café may not always give a mending fix, but there will be some working parts in a broken gadget which can still be used. Which means we can reuse parts of one broken equipment to another. School or college projects can for example benefit from this, i.e., Student projects can involve these misplaced working parts in their tasks and get hands-on experience at zero cost and low budget too, plus bonus creativity! Isn’t that a win-win for all? Hands-on for students, who can grow up to become designers or product managers, who understand how products can be and can push for designs to implement repairability into product design, from the very beginning!

It would be super amazing if schools become beautiful hubs where the community really gets together, it will then be for real, a space of knowledge sharing and pure in its vision! Do write to us back if you had a first meetup to plan a Repair cafe in your community or even better a meetup at your school’s Repair café!

Bonus videos for you to kick off!

What is a Repair café capable of? - Repair Cafe "Building Resilience"

Hope you all have fun with trying to mend things, trying not to send them to landfills, respecting the resources and labor that went into making it and paying our gratitude to Mama Earth in totality!


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