Get Free Electronics and Appliance Repair Help at a Repair Café

Ours is a throwaway culture. Manufacturers create products with “planned obsolescence” built in, meaning that they are designed NOT to last so that consumers are forced to buy another phone, a new pair of shoes, or replace that blender every few years. But now there is a growing movement to encourage and help the public fix their stuff rather than throwing it out, and at the center of this movement are repair cafés, where you can get free electronics and appliance repair help from handy expert volunteers.

What is a repair café?

According to repaircafe.org,

Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things (together). In the place where a Repair Café is located, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, et cetera. You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields.

There are currently over 2,200 repair cafés in the world! Not only are they a great place to get stuff fixed, but if you are interested in learning repair skills, they can be a great place to get some hands-on learning experience.

Some of the items you can potentially get assistance with fixing at a repair café include:

  • Electronics like cell phones, tablets and laptops;
  • Small appliances like toasters and blenders;
  • Household items like lamps and clocks;
  • Small motor items like lawnmowers and snowblowers;
  • Tools like scissors, hedge trimmers and dull knives;
  • Furniture;
  • Clothing and textiles;
  • Toys;
  • Jewelry;
  • …and more!

Check with your local repair café to see what they accept.

As a human race, we have a major waste problem. The manufacturing of new products contributes to global warming, pollution and waste disposal issues. Many people are getting tired of this throwaway culture and so they are working to help change our mindset. Fixing what we already have is one great way to create less waste and environmental impact. Plus, it saves money!

Where can I find a repair café near me?

RepairCafe.org maintains a map of all the repair café locations across the world. Europe definitely has a big head start on the United States when it comes to total number of locations within an easy travel distance of a great number of people, but repair cafés are starting to take off in the U.S. as well. They often crop up on or near college campuses. If you’re handy at fixing stuff, consider gathering a few like-minded friends and starting a repair café in your town!

The Right-to-Repair Movement

Many manufacturers not only design their products not to last, but also make it almost impossible to repair them through a variety of practices – for instance, by not making replacement parts, tools and manuals available. Many companies also have warranty clauses that limit the ability to fix a device to only authorized dealers. This drives up repair costs due to lack of competition. Additionally, newer devices may be glued together rather than using screws, which makes it nearly impossible to open the device and make repairs.

The Right-to-Repair movement advocates for the idea that once you buy a product, it is your property and you should have the right to maintain and repair it to extend its use. Through legislation, right-to-repair proponents are aiming to combat these anti-competitive practices, support the rights of small repair businesses, empower consumers and promote waste reduction through reuse. Many U.S. states currently have right-to-repair bills under consideration. Write to your representatives to lend your support to this important legislation!

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