Waste comes in many forms – as anyone who’s had to fish Buzz Lightyear out of a sewage pump will tell you. We handle sewage, often for property owners and businesses who’ve had to find their own solutions – but a lot of that sewage isn’t waste. For every 500 tonnes we collect, only one tonne is actual waste. The other 499 become compost, or are processed and filtered back into the watercourse. We’re committed to using waste as a resource, and there are plenty of others who do likewise. That approach works perfectly for other forms of waste too: with the right mindset you can stop creating waste and start creating resources.
In 2009, sustainability advocate Martine Postma founded the first repair caf in Amsterdam. A repair caf is a free meeting in a hired space. Visitors bring things they can’t mend, and offer their time and skills to repair other people’s things. While they’re waiting, they can learn about repairs and DIY from resources provided by the caf – and yes, it is also a caf.
The idea is to make people think about repairing, to seek out and respect people who have the skills to repair things, and to encourage a different way of thinking about their possessions. It also helps visitors to save money – although Martine emphasises that the cafs are not there to undercut professionals – and reduce the amount of discarded domestic goods.
Malvern and mend
Jan and Chris Dyer opened the Malvern Hills Repair Caf in December 2012. In three and a half years, they’ve built a team of 35 regular repairers, met 1,500 customers, and successfully mended more than 1,760 items. They’ll attempt almost anything, provided it’s hand-portable and not dangerous – including this gorgeous antique table with a secret compartment which conceals the artisan’s original plans.
Their success has brought attention from the Big Lottery Fund, which is supporting the first two meetings of two new cafs in Redditch and Worcester. The Malvern Hills Repair Caf is providing two experienced menders, covering the start-up costs, and providing a UK-specific handbook for the new organisations. This manual is based on first-hand experience, covering all of Jan and Chris challenges and successes with setting up the Malvern Hills caf. There are plans for a third new caf, but the where and when of it all are currently quite mysterious. We’re holding out for Hereford – and you can find out more about the plans here.
We live in a throwaway society. Not many things are built to last and it’s a shame that a lot of people just don’t have the skills to repair or mend things that break down. Many of the skills that our volunteers are using today are sadly dying out and it would be a huge shame if they end up being lost to the current generation.
— Jan Dyer, Chair of Malvern Hills Repair Caf.
Some things don’t have to be thrown away. That’s the heart and soul of the Repair Caf movement – what’s broken doesn’t have to be disposed of, and what’s used doesn’t have to be wasted. All it takes is a little insight – and that holds true for the genuine waste as well.
For the things which really have to go, it’s best to call in the professionals. To be rid of the real waste, contact Mayglothling Waste for advice or a quote.