May 13, 2012

Dutch Repair Cafes take sustainability to your neighbourhood

Filed under: Design,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 5:09 pm

The New York Times has a story about Dutch ‘repair cafes’:

At Amsterdam’s first Repair Cafe, an event originally held in a theater’s foyer, then in a rented room in a former hotel and now in a community center a couple of times a month, people can bring in whatever they want to have repaired, at no cost, by volunteers who just like to fix things.

Conceived of as a way to help people reduce waste, the Repair Cafe concept has taken off since its debut two and a half years ago. The Repair Cafe Foundation has raised about $525,000 through a grant from the Dutch government, support from foundations and small donations, all of which pay for staffing, marketing and even a Repair Cafe bus.

According to the article there are currently thirty repair cafés spread around the country (several cities have more than one of them) . The idea was conceived by journalist Martine Postma in 2009, and implemented for the first time in October of that same year in Amsterdam West.

I totally dig this idea, as I always have broken stuff lying around that is cheaper to replace than to repair, which bugs me no end.

What’s more, sometimes you have devices that are impossible to replace. There is currently, for instance, no substitution on the market for my Canon Powershot A620 digital photo camera (2005), at least no substitution that combines all the useful features of that little device (see note below). If I brought it to a commercial repair shop, they would charge me just 50 euro to look inside. I have tried taking it apart myself, but being completely inept when it comes to electronics, I had to stop when the chance became real that I would accidentally touch the flash unit’s capacitor and shock myself.

(Note: before you mention it, I am aware that the Canon Powershot G12 and the Nikon P7100 come close, but both are considerably larger, taking them to the extreme of what can still be considered pocketable. The Canon Powershot S100 on the other hand lacks a viewfinder.)

(Link: Repair Café)

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