Don Fick of Repair Cafe NC discusses how his organization repairs many daily household items keeping them out of local landfills.
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Just because the button on your household gizmo is broken doesn’t mean it needs to go straight to the landfill – it may just need a quick trip to a RepairCafé workshop. There’s one coming up Saturday in Durham, but Don Fick and his crew are coming to Granville County in September.
Fick and Teresa Baker, the county’s recycling and sustainability coordinator, held an interest meeting last week in Oxford and have since scheduled a workshop for Saturday, Sept. 18 at the Granville County Expo Center. Fick joined Bill Harris on Wednesday’s Town Talk to talk about what RepairCaféNC is and what it does.
At its simplest, Fink said, RepairCafé workshops consist of a group of folks who get together and share repair skills to fix broken items that others bring in. There is no charge for the labor, although guests may be asked to reimburse for replacement parts that are used.
In today’s society, disposable items are everywhere – things that once were made to last a long time are now easily – and more economically – replaced. But that “stuff” has to go somewhere. And, usually, that means a landfill.
“The money that the county has to spend to dump a ton of waste is only going up,” Fick said. Individuals don’t really have to think about that, he added. “We toss it in the trash can and the truck comes and picks it up and we never see it again.”
Fick said a mission of RepairCafé is to reduce the amount of waste consumers generate that ends up in landfills. When a lamp stops working and it’s not the light bulb that’s the problem, someone who lacks confidence about making repairs may choose to toss it. But that same lamp may find new life in the hands of one of the RepairCafé “coaches.”
Fick said the volunteers have a 65 percent success rate of fixing the items that they work on. They see a lot of lamps, as well as vacuum cleaners, electronic equipment, necklaces and children’s toys.
He cited one example of a woman who brought in a music box – a gift from her grandmother – that had long ago ceased playing.
“She sat with two of our coaches and together they meticulously cleaned it, lubricated it, worked very carefully on realigning some bent pieces of metal. And after an hour’s work, it was playing music again,” Fick recalled. “We were able to restore her cherished possession,” and she got to share her story and her relationship with her grandmother.
“We’re doing more than fixing stuff,” Fick said. “We’re helping people reconnect with memories and we’re showing appreciation for the stories they bring.”
Fick said the group is looking for volunteers for the Granville County workshop. The volunteer coaches simply have an interest or curiosity of how things work, he said, and have a skill set for making repairs.
The Durham workshop will be held at The Scrap Exchange from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visit www.repaircafe.org to learn more or to register to attend a workshop.