The Repair Café is both an organization and a global network of cafes that emphasize the repair of everyday things in order to promote a culture of sustainability and reuse.
The idea was originally conceived by Martine Postma, a dutch journalist, who began in 2009 with the idea that we could reduce what we put in landfills by taking the time and energy to
repair rather than replace. There are now over 1100 Repair Cafes in 30 countries, all operated on a volunteer basis.
The premise is simple: a Café furnishes all the tools and materials one might need to repair or mend a wide variety of household items, including clothes, bicycles, furniture and electrical appliances. People who need things repaired are paired with specialists to start making repairs, while an emphasis is placed on learning how to repair the item.
The process is meant to transcend a mere market transaction. Those seeking repairs do not just come by and drop off a broken item, only to pick it up later. The process is designed so that the visitor and a specialist can sit down together, explore the problem, and devise a solution. By spending time together, those who need repairs and those who know how to do them can create a community and transfer knowledge between neighbors, or between generations.
It is also meant to be a provocation: the culture created within a repair café encourages people to think differently about the items of their everyday life. Instead of immediately throwing a thing away, and buying a new one, people (especially younger generations) are exposed to an alternative: many household items are easily repaired if you have the skills and the tools. The process therefore engenders both ecological and social benefits in the setting of a relaxed café.