LEAVENWORTH – Don’t throw away that broken blender or those torn jeans just yet. Waste Loop might be able to help. The nonprofit is bringing back Repair Cafes starting at the end of the month. Each event will have an array of volunteer fixers who will assist in diagnosing and fixing broken items.
The first Repair Cafe will be at Leavenworth’s Wenatchee River Institute from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 29. A second event is scheduled for Mar. 13 at Pinnacle Prep School in Wenatchee. Once Waste Loop’s Eastside Rebuild opens in Cashmere, the nonprofit plans to make Repair Cafes a regular occurrence at the new location.
“We are fixing actual physical objects so that they get a second life and don't end up in our landfill, and people don't have to spend money and resources to buy something new if they can just repair what they already have,” said Amanda Close, Waste Loop’s Education and Outreach Coordinator.
Each event will have about eight volunteer fixers. Some will have textile skills, such as mending clothing, and others will have the tinkering skills to fix appliances or electronics. Community members are encouraged to bring in anything from a ripped jacket to a coffee maker or laptop, and volunteers will do their best to help fix the item.
The volunteer fixers are there to help repair items, but more importantly, they are there to teach the item owners how to do it themselves. The intent behind the event is to connect community members who otherwise might not meet and to share valuable skills that are being lost.
“We're not expecting a complete novice to be able to dismantle a laptop in one sitting, but over time, we're hoping to build up that culture of sharing these skills and knowledge,” said Close.
The Repair Cafes are an element of Waste Loops’s intensely local mission to transform waste streams into resources and ensure those resources are valued through their entire lifecycle. The objective stems from the rising waste generation in Washington State.
According to the Department of Ecology’s State Solid and Hazardous Waste Plan, solid waste generation grew by nearly 71 percent from 2000 to 2021 in the state, reaching a peak of 18.9 million tons generated in 2018.
The idea for a Repair Cafe was inspired by a global movement that was started fifteen years ago. In 2009, Dutch journalist Martine Postma hosted the first cafe in Amsterdam. Due to its growing success, Postma launched the Repair Café International Foundation in 2011, which helps groups start their own cafes all over the world. According to its website, the nonprofit boasts 2,500 registered Repair Cafes worldwide, with supporters in 40 countries across six continents.
Waste Loop held its first Repair Cafe in 2019, which was a huge success. However, the event, dependent on in-person interactions, lost momentum once the pandemic hit.
“Fortunately, we received a grant through the Department of Ecology that is allowing us to fund a kind of Repair Cafe 2.0, if you will, that will focus on a much wider array of objects and hopefully be able to reach a lot more members of the community,” said Close.
More information about Waste Loop’s Repair Cafes and other initiatives can be found at wasteloop.org. For the history of the Repair Cafe and a library of repair instructionals, visit repaircafe.org/en.
Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or email@example.com
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