The Fix Is In: Repair Cafe Works To Keep Stuff Out Of Landfills

Mar 29, 2018

If you fancy yourself a Mr. or Ms. Fix-It, or maybe you're more of a "Need a Ms. Fix-It" kind of person, we've got a matchmaking event for you! 

The Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District, the Onion River Exchange and the Center for an Agricultural Economy are working together to host a Repair Cafe in Hardwick at the end of April.

People who have something in need of fixing will find others willing to share their repair expertise. It's a match made in heaven!

Eric Bachman, secretary of the board of the Onion River Exchange, joined Vermont Edition to explain how to become a Repair Cafe fix-pert and explained what items can be brought to the event.

Here are some things Bachman said about the Repair Cafe:

  1. It's easy to navigate: "You go to the registration table and say, 'I have this to repair.' [You] will fill out the routing slip and will be matched with a person who can repair your item or who will at least try to repair it. We have no guarantee, but we have people with all sorts of skills there — from gluing to sewing to electronics to woodworking." 
  2. The Repair Cafe will (attempt to) fix almost anything: "Really it's whatever you can carry in by yourself — no big appliances ... no cars." 
  3. If they can't fix it right then and there, they will help you find a way to fix it at home: At the last Repair Cafe when this occurred, Bachman says people were told, "'You need parts or we need much more time than we have here to fix it.' And we sent people home with a homework page, you know, a description of what the next steps are to do it yourself."
  4. It's less wasteful to fix things instead of throwing them out: "Look at all the wasted resources that are thrown in the landfill ... Some things are so simple to fix."
  5. Repair Cafe teaches people how to fix their own things: "You don't own it unless you can fix it ... People are often scared to unscrew something to see what's inside it, and 'Oh that's so complicated, I couldn't fix it.' But with enough curiosity and looking around, especially with the internet that provides so much information ... there are many possibilities where one can learn it. And so we want to encourage people to take part in that."
  6. Curiosity and fearlessness are crucial to be a good fixer: "There are two important things that you need to have as a fixer: one is curiosity and the other one is to get over the fear that 'I can't fix it.' The rest is experience and learning. ... It's sort of like being a detective: What is wrong here? Why isn't it working? What can I do to fix it? Can I? You know, do we need a part? And that's the fun part."

Those interested in becoming a fix-pert can email repaircafevt@gmail.com.

Listen to the audio above for more of the conversation with Bachman. Broadcast live on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.