If you don’t consider yourself a particularly handy person, you may be at a loss when something around the house breaks, whether it be your computer mouse, your nightstand, or your child’s Furby. But if you are an avid recycler, you might also feel a sense of guilt throwing away electronics, furniture, toys, and other home goods that are almost usable but just need some love from an experienced professional to get working again.
Repair Cafe, as CityLab reports, is a network of volunteer organizations that help people fix their broken products. The first Repair Cafe got its start in Amsterdam in 2009, when Martine Postma opened up the first cafe dedicated to helping people fix up their broken products. Experts are available to help look at malfunctioning electronics, broken jewelry, busted vacuums, and other everyday items, helping the owner troubleshoot the problem and get everything working again.
The goal is to prevent as many of these products as possible from ending up in the trash, and it’s free for anyone to attend. While the cafe provides access to knowledgeable experts and some tools and supplies, the goal is to help individuals learn to fix their household goods on their own.
Due to the success of the Amsterdam cafe, Postma founded the Repair Cafe Foundation to bring her idea to cities around the world. There are currently more than 1500 volunteer Repair Cafes internationally. Anyone can start one, in fact. For less than $60 (€49), the organization provides a step-by-step manual, logo use, templates for advertising posters and liability forms, and other support.
If there aren’t any Repair Cafes near you right now—and you don’t plan to open one—consider investing in products that come with lifetime guarantees. (If you don’t know where to find those, start here.)