. Earth Science News .

Dutch 'Repair Cafe' give trash a new lease of life
by Staff Writers
Amsterdam (AFP) March 15, 2012

A broken-down vacuum cleaner, an old bicycle, a torn shirt ... almost nothing is impossible to fix for a group of crafty Dutch volunteers dedicated to giving potential trash a second lease of life.

The volunteers of Amsterdam's "Repair Cafe" are part of a network of 20 similar groups across The Netherlands who mend broken household appliances and electronics, rather than relegating them to the trash heap -- an all-too-easy choice in today's consumer society.

"People have simply lost the culture of repairs. We too easily throw away things that can be fixed," Martine Postma, the driving force behind the initiative, told AFP at Amsterdam's Repair Cafe.

Here in a rented hall, saws, screwdrivers and electric cables hang from the walls. Four electronics enthusiasts and two seamstresses are hard at work, fixing a sound system and mending torn clothing.

Postma, a former journalist, pulls a cell phone from her pocket which she bought a decade ago, saying: "It's missing three keys on the keypad but otherwise it works fine. Surely there must be a way to fix it."

Convinced that no one enjoys throwing things away, Postma, 41, opened the first Repair Cafe in Amsterdam in 2009 "to bring together two groups of people: 'repair volunteers' and those who want to fix things but don't know how."

Margreet Bakker, 57, brought in her vacuum cleaner, preferring the Repair Cafe to the manufacturer. "It's much better to bring it here, rather than have it fixed by the manufacturer, who would charge the equivalent of a new vacuum cleaner," she said.

Bakker and Theo van den Akker, a tax consultant by profession, but also an electronics enthusiast, start probing the machine's innards.

They dismantle it, check its fan, test its electronics ... and within an hour later identify the problem. Simple, really: a loose connection at the plug. With that fixed, the vacuum cleaner hums back to life.

-- 'Devices today are not made to be fixed' --


Visitors to the Repair Cafe, working with "fixers," sometimes learn to do the repairs themselves.

"Devices made today are less and less reliable and they last far less time than they used to," lamented Van den Akker, 64, adding: "They are made less-and-less easy to take apart -- they are not made to be fixed."

What started as a purely local initiative in Amsterdam, the Repair Cafe became an overnight success, far exceeding Postma's expectations.

The initial goal was to set up 18 Repair Cafes across the country by 2013. Today, around 20 are already up and running, and another 50 are in the planning stages.

Postma now works full-time for the Repair Cafe Foundation, which she founded in 2010.

Funded by the Dutch state, the foundation advises volunteers on how to set up their own Repair Cafes.

Each one works independently and sets its own pace -- be it one afternoon a month or two evenings a week -- in a workspace that may be provided by the local municipality or rented to an individual.

It is up to each one to obtain funding, recruit volunteers and find tools.

Now Postma dreams of opening a Repair Cafe in every one of The Netherlands' 415 municipalities: "It could also work elsewhere in western Europe, and why not in the United States as well?" she asks.

Ronald Westerlaken, 37, a former electrician who now works as a designer, said he volunteered because he "wanted to do something with my hands again. My other job requires me to be constantly in front of my computer!"

"When it comes to fixing something, you feel a great deal of satisfaction," he said.

Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Variety of toxicants can harm subsequent generations
Pullman, WA (SPX) Mar 15, 2012
A Washington State University researcher has demonstrated that a variety of environmental toxicants can have negative effects on not just an exposed animal but the next three generations of its offspring. The animal's DNA sequence remains unchanged, but the compounds change the way genes turn on and off - the epigenetic effect studied at length by WSU molecular biologist Michael Skinner an ... read more

Butterfly molecule may aid quest for nuclear clean-up technology

Japan's nuclear disaster: a timeline

Japan strives to win back tourists

Meltdown intel emerges ahead of Japan anniversary

Apple looks to tighten tablet market grip with new iPad

AU Optronics to appeal US price-fixing verdict

PayPal lets shops take payments on smartphones

Russia to build space warning system

China to invest in water projects

The Blue Planet's new water budget

Mauritius, Seychelles to jointly manage Indian Ocean shelf

Oceans Acidifying Faster today Than in Past 300 Million Years

China to conduct Arctic expedition

S. Korean, Russian scientists bid to clone mammoth

NASA Finds Thickest Parts of Arctic Ice Cap Melting Faster

Greenland icesheet more vulnerable than thought to warming

Commonly used herbicides seen as threat to endangered butterflies

Auchan supermarkets reports profit rise on action in China

Myanmar soldiers shot dead China farmer: Beijing

World breakthrough on salt-tolerant wheat

Tropical Storm Irina kills three in Mozambique:official

Greek volcanic island shows activity

Small tsunami hits Japan after 6.9 quake

Effects of flooding on Cairo

Algeria conflict shapes US military strategy

Ethiopia says it has attacked Eritrean military base

G.Bissau security forces vote in presidential poll

Bloodhounds deployed to fight elephant poaching in DR Congo

Strong scientific evidence that eating berries benefits the brain

What have we got in common with a gorilla?

Knowledge gap widens gulf between South Asian nations

Human-like fossils in China caves puzzle scientists

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement