The Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society is hosting a new-to-us event this year in Williams Lake: a Repair Café. The concept itself is not new. The first Repair Café happened in Amsterdam on Oct. 18, 2009 and they continue today in countries all around the world.
The idea is pretty simple, but with multiple benefits: you bring the thing you think is broken and work with Repair Café volunteers on how it might be fixed. Often, it can be fixed and it is simply a lack of knowledge and skill on how. This not only reduces the waste of having discarded the item, and the waste created producing the replacement that is inevitably purchased, but it increases the skills of those who attend, and creates new connections and friendships! So many wins.
The CCCS considers this kind of event as perhaps one of its only acts of protest. When you dig into the theory of planned or built-in obsolescence, you find some pretty crazy details that make you feel duped enough to want to fix that ratty yet comfortable sweater, if only entirely out of principle. In short, those reading this can be sure that the theory of planned obsolescence is, for the most part, true. But we cannot blame manufacturers alone for this practice: consumers, who desire new items for reasons other than their necessity, are also to blame.
An interesting and well-documented example is that of the light bulb. If you just search the great light bulb conspiracy, you will find quite a bit of history on it, but it is considered the birth of planned obsolescence, and one of the few that is actually on paper. There’s even a movie about it! And tons of books and resources. Basically, a bunch of representatives from light bulb manufacturing companies got together in 1924 and created a cartel that controlled the global production of light bulbs that were shorter-lasting than their predecessor, but more costly, so that people had to buy them more often and for a higher price.
We may not be able to fix burnt out light bulbs at our Repair Café on May 11th at the Potato House, but we are determined to fix as many other things as possible! Perhaps the one light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, is that many retro or refurbished household items are cool again. And there are quality and well-made products out there that are worth investing in, if we are willing to use them for the long haul. But with manufacturers responding to the consumer’s desire for the latest and greatest, now – in many instances – there is no way around it. The right to choose and produce products that last and do not sacrifice the environment is less than it has ever been.
So we encourage folks to learn a lost skill, save some dough, and keep wearing their favourite sweater for another 10 years! Join us on Saturday, May 11th from 11am-4pm at the Potato House for our 1st ever Repair Café. FREE to attend! Follow our facebook page @CCCSociety to learn more about the event!
CONSERVATION TIP OF THE MONTH: do you have an item that isn’t working and are wondering if it can be repaired? We have a Repair It brochure that features tons of the businesses in Williams Lake and area that perform repairs. It’s on our website under the Waste Wise page.
Brianna van de Wijngaard is the communications co-ordinator with the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society.