On October 27th, about 1,500 items – everything from stuffed bears and toy tractors to vacuum cleaners and digital cameras – were saved from Swiss junk piles, thanks to some 500 fix-it volunteers and concerned citizens.
This happened at 33 Swiss “Repair Cafés”, mostly in the German-speaking part of the country, during the second “Repair Day” this year, according to a report from the Consumer Protection Federation (Konsumentenschutz – SKS).
SKS has been organizing Repair Day for three years. Anyone is invited to come in with their broken item and use the freely provided tools and guidance from mechanically inclined volunteers to give their toy or treasure a second life. There’s even free coffee and cake, plus the opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts of fixing things.
“Within three years, 60 well-attended Repair Cafés have been set up in Switzerland”, said SKS director Sara Stalder. “This shows the population cares about repairing broken things to counter the throw-away economy”.
The October fix-it day saved a lot of people money – that battered family vacuum cleaner will be sucking up coins awhile longer. The Repair Cafes also saved an estimated 4.4 metric tonnes of rubbish from landfills. Not to mention the satisfaction people got from helping bring their machine or phone or stuffed dinosaur back to life themselves.
It wasn’t a competition, but bragging rights for the most total number of items fixed during the October Repair Day went to Bern with 108 items. The most total weight saved from landfills went to Biel, with 520 kg saved.
Ironically, the success of Repair Day may lead to more political involvement that will lessen the need for consumers and volunteers to repair family machines and toys. Discussions to require improved designs for longer life, extend warranty periods, and even make the designs of replacement parts for discontinued items publicly available for 3D printing, have been proposed – but so far rejected by the Federal Council, according to the SKS.
Meanwhile, if you happen to find CP3O or Paddington Bear in need of soldering or stitching, you can check this map for the nearest Repair Café. You can also establish a new Repair Café in your area. And of course, volunteers with multi-tools and mechanical minds are always welcome.
By Bill Harby