Not a Repair cafe

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Not a Repair cafe

Post by Reuse officer Devon on Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:40 pm

Hello all, my name is Catherine and I am the Reuse project officer at Devon County Council. I work as part of the waste management team and the aim of my project is to increase Reuse and reduce disposal at recycling centres.

I am lucky enough to work with some of the Devon Repair Cafes and support the work of this dedicated bunch. My main Involvement is with Exeter Repair Cafe. We recently ran an event and we had interest from another 5 potential repair cafes. I am hoping that this forum will be a valuable resource for all those involved in Repair cafes.

So my question to you repair cafes is how do you think we can reduce the amount of stuff people throw away and change behaviour so that people will fix things or pass them on for reuse rather than send for disposal ( when the item is still useable ).





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Re: Not a Repair cafe

Post by andyc on Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:25 pm

Hi Catherine,

I think the answer to your question may be quite a simple one, but as I'm in a different area to you I'll explain the situation where I am.

Here in Derbyshire the local council runs waste disposal sites (sometimes called 'dump it' sites). You probably know the sort of place, where you turn up with a car olad of stuff and dump it into various huge skips depending on what it might be that you're throwing away. BBC TV have even made a TV show out of it called 'Money For Nothing'. It's based on the premise that one man's trash is another man's treasure and people often throw away perfectly good items. people working at ths sites regularly seem to fish things back out of the skips and there's often a lot of items about the place. But ask if you can take anything away to re-use it and it's always a firm NO! At least that's the situation around here.

So my answer to your question would be simply to turn that 'NO' into a 'be my guest!'

My temporary part-solution to this problem has been to discourage anyone from taking items to these sites. Certainly any un-fixable items that the owner no longer wants from our Repair Cafe's in Sheffield, which we used to tell them to recycle, we now hang onto and dismantle for parts ourselves. We salvage almost everything and I'm currently looking at the possibility of reclaiming plastic parts for grinding up to make fillament for 3d printers.

In my opinion it's always better to reuse something than recycle it though. Generally older stuff is far better quality than new stuff and recycling uses energy and resources which reuse does not.

One thing I would like to see in the UK is US style thrift shops. This is not to be confused with a charity shop, but is a commercial business that takes in any item and then re-sells it at a knock down price. The things on offer can literally be anything, a bit like a car boot sale but an actual shop that is there all the time and open every day. I'd say about 50% of the stuff taken to our local dump it site could be re-sold through a thrift shop. The original owner might even get a bit of money for it.

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Re: Not a Repair cafe

Post by Reuse officer Devon on Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:38 pm

Hi Andy, in Devon all our HWRCs - household waste recycling centres (Tips!) have a resale area where items are sold, very cheaply. There are limitations to what they will sell so no safety equiptment like car seats or gas bottles or electrical items for example. This encourages reuse and is a fantastic initiative, this is contractually required. This is done in some other areas, Newport for example but they are usually run by charities.

We are blessed with reuse organisations in Devon including Refurnish (10 shops) - who provide furniture to low income families and training for those wanting to get back into work.
We also have Recycling in Ottery and Proper Job, their main mission is about avoiding items being disposed of, they also sell very cheaply, collect and deliver (for a small cost). Local people can drop items off at their premises.

The aim of my project is to encourage more reuse and try to understand the challenges and barriers preventing reuse.

I totally agree, reuse is better than recycling. My house is full of older items from Gumtree, HWRC resale areas, freecycle, the main charity shops and car boots. Its so much better quality than new stuff, luckily I like brown furniture and mid century design is very on trend!

Thanks for the reply its so interesting to see what is happening in other parts of the country.

If you are storing items to salvage parts, do you have a large storage area at your repair cafe or do you store at home? Storage space is a bit of an issue for most of the repair cafes in Devon.


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Re: Not a Repair cafe

Post by andyc on Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:45 am

Hi Catherine. It sounds like your part of the world is much better set up for re-using things than we are here.

Our salvaging activities are still quite small scale. We only get one or two items per event that we rescue from the scrap skips, so they usually get taken home and dismantled before the next event. At the moment I have a coffee machine to take apart and dispose of and that's about it. Until after next week's event that is anyway!

Space is a major issue for us too and we could definitely do a lot more if we had a permanent base. One problem we have is not having the right tools with us at events. Someone will always bring something unusual in that needs a specialist piece of kit to fix it. We often have it, but just haven't taken it with us. I already carry 4 tool boxes plus a big plastic tote crate to hold things like consumables, all the paperwork and donation box etc.

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Re: Not a Repair cafe

Post by Reuse officer Devon on Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:23 pm

Hi Andy, space is an issue in Devon too. I wonder what the situation is with the other repair cafes ?

The tools issue is interesting as you wouldn't leave them on site anyway, as you would need them in your work. I would imagine good parking and easy access to the venue is important if you are humping around so much kit.

Do you know who provides the county's waste management service? Do you know if there is an equivalent of me within the county or district council?

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Re: Not a Repair cafe

Post by andyc on Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:25 pm

We've found free parking is absolutely essential for our Repair Cafes. We did try doing a couple in Sheffield city centre, where parking is difficult and costs a fortune. Absolutely nobody (and I do mean NOBODY) turned up! That's in contrast to the 20 - 40 repairs we do at each other event. Needless to say the coty centre venue has now been knocked on the head!

I don't know if ypou have an equivalent in Derbyshire or South Yorkshire. My gut feeling is that there probably isn't, but I can't say for sure. I'll investigate further.

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