The Bower Reuse and Repair Centre
From their two shop locations in the suburbs of Sydney, The Bower works to reduce landfill waste by fixing and reselling furniture, electronics and more. In addition, they offer ‘Tricks of the Trade’ workshops in basic carpentry, furniture repair, furniture painting and upholstery, and host Repair Cafes, with technicians on hand to help fix everything from “dodgy small electrical items” and “rickety tables and chairs” to “wobbly bicycles” — all for free! Repair cafes have proven so popular they have now gone on the road, offering services to residents in all parts of Sydney. To learn more, and view the Repair Cafe schedule, visit the Bower’s website.
Brisbane Tool Library
The Brisbane Tool Library is one inspiring example of a trend that has swept the world – grassroots hubs (or ‘libraries of things’) which loan out tools that people may want to use occasionally, but not own. The goal, as Brisbane Tool Library founder Sabrina Chakori puts it, is “to go beyond the material consumption of the current ‘take, make, and dispose’ system,” instead creating a circular economy wherein inequality and waste are reduced through cooperation, sharing, and repurposing. These libraries don’t have to be limited to sharing tools, either. Since they are rooted in concrete locations, they allow for relationships to be built, and services and skills to be shared along with material goods. Learn more about the Brisbane Tool Library on their website. And find a tool library near you or learn what steps you can take to start one yourself.
Photo courtesy of Sabrina Chakori
The Catalan Integral Cooperative
The Catalan Integral Cooperative is a financial co-op, a food pantry, a legal-aid desk, an open-source tool workshop, a local currency (the “eco”) and a bed-and-breakfast for tourists in a medieval watchtower, all rolled into one. Its goal is to facilitate the creation of an entire ecosystem of alternative “post-capitalist” economic projects in Catalonia, to replace the dominant system. Read a full report on their activities via Shareable or visit the Catalan Integral Cooperative website.
Club de Reparadores (Repairers’ Club)
Members of the Club de Reparadores meet on Saturday afternoons in parks, plazas, or donated workshops to have fun, share knowledge, and repair broken household goods. Some members are repair experts; others just have goods that need fixing — but all share in the determination to keep landfills from filling and corporations from forcing us to put perfectly good products to waste. Though initially the club only met in Buenos Aires, today the Club de Reparadores has chapters in cities all over Argentina. For more information, follow Club de Reparadores on Facebook or Instagram or read United Against Programmed Obsolescence.
Photo by Beatrice Murch (CC BY 2.0)
With funding from Zero Waste Scotland, the Edinburgh Remakery works to create jobs, reduce waste, and limit people’s dependence on the consumer economy. They do so by fixing textiles, computers, mobile phones and furniture at low cost; by offering courses where people can learn to fix things themselves; and by cheaply selling and sometimes donating refurbished computers, furniture and more. They’re currently trying to create more Remakeries throughout the UK. To learn more, visit the Remakery’s website.
Photo courtesy by Edinburgh Remakery
Kyle Weins founded online repair community iFixit as part of his work to campaign against “programmed obsolescence.” In a time when companies like Toshiba sue users for sharing manuals, and companies like Apple make it imperative to buy a whole new iPad just because a battery dies, iFixit’s mission — making thousands of product manuals and instruction videos available online, and providing translations, tools and tech support — becomes a surprisingly radical project. In addition, Weins is currently pushing for “Right to Repair” legislation in seven states. His motto: “If you can’t fix it, you don’t really own it.” To learn more, visit iFixit or read Can pop-up ‘repair cafes’ save broken gadgets and solve growing waste levels?
Photo by Thomas Cizauskas (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The Restart Project is an electronics repair group based in London that focuses on putting people back in charge of their own interactions with technology. By organizing skill-building workshops and providing a do-it-yourself Restart Party Kit for people to organize their own repair-centric gatherings, the Restart Project both creates the social spaces necessary to counteract the alienating influence of digital technology, and resists the corporate-driven message that ‘new’ is always better. Learn more at therestartproject.org.
Photo by Fairphone (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Stop Planned Obsolescence
Stop Planned Obsolescence (or HOP, after their French name Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée) is a French organization committed to “promoting alternative economic models around reuse, repair and recycling”. In addition to conducting public awareness campaigns and advocating for policy changes such as public funding for repair training programs, HOP is currently using France’s existing ban on planned obsolescence to file a legal complaint against Apple, Inc, for deliberately slowing down its devices to induce people to buy the latest models. In the past, HOP has also taken legal action against printer manufacturers for deliberately shortening the life of print cartridges. Read more at www.halteobsolescence.org (website in French).
Transfernation, based in New York City, brings excess, untouched food from corporate cafeterias and events to soup kitchens, churches and homeless shelters. Recognizing that food waste and hunger are more issues of distribution than of supply, the program mobilizes contracted drivers and volunteers to pick up and drop off food on demand, delivering it to local distribution programs. As of June 2018, Transfernation has redistributed more than 230,000 pounds of food to nearly 200,000 people. For more information, visit the Transfernation website and read an interview with the founders in this article by Global Citizen.