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Repair: Let's make more of what we have

One of our repairers, Dai Sanders, has written a brilliant article about his experience at the Repair Café - read the start below and follow the link to read the whole thing.

In a crowded church hall, two small girls stand alongside their mum peering into a partially disassembled electric whisk totally bemused by its complex innards. Their weekend ritual of making cupcakes for Granny's visit was cut short this morning when the whisk heads refused to spin with the usual flick of a switch. I point out that moisture has made its way inside, causing the motor bearings to seize with rust. With some liberally applied oil and some gentle persuasion, the whisk whizzes back into life to the delight of the girls. It is unlikely that any of my clumsy technical explanations sank in, but I certainly hope the girls learnt a far more important lesson - it’s not always necessary to replace when you can repair.

This was my first experience as a repair volunteer at a local Repair Café. Since then, every third Saturday of the month, I prepare to tackle almost any type of product repair that’s thrown at me. Within these monthly 3-hour sessions, I’ve fixed the most diverse array of items including wheelchairs, jewellery, chainsaws, toasters, balance boards, furniture and more than a few coffee machines. My motivations to get involved are threefold. Firstly, as a responsible global citizen, I want to play a hands-on part in reducing the volume of items that make it to landfill. Secondly, as an industrial designer, I hope discussions with real people and direct interaction with their problematic items can influence better product design. Thirdly, I genuinely derive a great deal of personal gratification from fixing things and the resulting joy this may bring to others. 

It’s been a year since I began putting my practical skills to good use, so I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my thoughts and observations.

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