Repair cafe coming to Vancouver will fix your broken stuff for free

Aug 16 2019, 4:21 pm

Have a broken appliance gathering dust at your place?  Vancouver has a cafe opening soon that can help.

The city’s first “repair cafe” is launching on August 24.

You can bring in household items that need to be fixed like toasters, lamps, toys, jewelry, clothes, bikes, toys, and jewelry.

Literally anything that is broken is welcome. Volunteers fixers will be on-site to help visitors repair these items.

Yining Sun, one of the co-founders of MetroVan Repair Cafes, says the service is needed because of the throwaway culture people live in where there is a tendency to throw away things that could potentially be fixed.

In a phone interview with The Daily Hive, Sun said that it’s also “partially because the products are designed for fast consumption and most of the time products are not designed for repairs.”

“Sometimes, it’s even impossible to open up the product, or the products are not available or too expensive.” She said.

“If you don’t know how to repair it, most people just throw it away. And it’s easy and cheap to get something new these days.”

Few professional businesses will do these fixes, according to Sun. “The repair cafe, in this sense, fills [that] void.”

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She and her partner, Dan Withers, hope that the repair cafe will change the public’s perspective on consumerism.

9.5 million tonnes of clothing get thrown into the landfill each year and 44.7 million metric tonnes of electronic waste was generated in 2016.

Withers said the cafe will help people know how to “balance what we purchase with…a better lifestyle and having things of greater value that can be repaired and have greater environmental sustainability.”


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Withers says the repair cafes will also educate the public on repair knowledge, such as knowing how to take apart electronics or knowing what kind of tool you need to repair something.

On another front, it’s also teaching people when things aren’t salvageable and can’t be fixed. “We’re educating people on the quality of products that are out there [as well],” Withers said.

According to Sun, many things, especially electronics, are built on fast consumerism. Companies want people to continue to upgrade products instead of fixing them.

“We want to…get people to value their stuff more in terms of trying to repair what they have but also on their future purchasing.” She said.

“We want them to think about what kind of companies [they’re] putting [their] money towards.” Withers said.

The two hope that people will rethink their relationship with the resources that they’re using. “Everything eventually will break.” Sun said. It’s not just the money that that will be wasted, she says, but there is “the environmental cost of getting rid of something.”

Besides educating the public on repair knowledge, Sun and Withers hope to foster an inclusive community.

Sun found that it was a good opportunity for seniors and new immigrants, who often feel isolated, to interact with their community. “By providing repairs, sometimes it doesn’t require that much language skill or [you] can get by with body language. It’s a very satisfying experience to be able to share all values in the new community.”

The co-founders are currently funding the cafe with donations and money out of their own pocket but are hoping to find community partners and venues to continue the program in the future.

The repair cafe is set to open at Hillcrest Centre with monthly events to follow.

MetroVan Repair Cafe

When: Saturday, August 24
10 am to 1 pm
Hillcrest Community Centre’s multipurpose room

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