Repair cafes – what are they and where can I find them?

The (almost) lost art of repairing broken objects is alive and kicking again in Western Australia thanks to the community-powered ‘repair cafés’ that are popping up around suburban Perth and regional centres.

Person fusing wires in household item

What is a repair café?

Repair cafés (and labs) are grassroots community-based events helping to keep items out of landfill for longer.

Mending

As the name suggests, the focus of these events is on repairing broken items.

It costs nothing to use the service – all you need to do is bring along your broken item and an appetite to break up with waste. It could be anything – clothing, bikes, toys, a piece of furniture, ornaments, small electrical items – the list goes on.

Neon sign on brick wall spelling the word FIX

Repair cafés and labs are a mecca for those who wish to repair, rather than replace common household items.

The volunteers will use their know-how and work with you to come up with a creative fix that will hopefully breathe a second life into your item.  In many cases they will succeed, however, sometimes they may have to point you towards a professional repairer or suggest an alternative use. Regardless – they will do their best to help you!

Salvaging

Not everything will be fixable… but there might be sought-after components from your broken item that could be salvaged to help with future repairs.

Pile of screws and bolts

If your item is not repairable useful parts may still be salvageable to help with other repairs

As none of the repair cafés have permanent homes, they are unlikely to want to keep your broken items in their entirety but you can still feel good for trying and possibly contributing to someone else’s repair.

Upskilling

This is one of the best bits about the repair-movement – it’s a learning opportunity! The volunteers don’t just take your item and fix it, they show YOU how to fix it.

With each repair, the goal is to help grow your confidence (and hopefully ability) to tackle repairs on your own in the future.

Grandfather teaching young boy how to fix a clock

Volunteers are eager to share their skills – you’re never too young or old to learn how to undertake your own repairs.

Sometimes just being exposed to what others are choosing to fix rather than replace can be inspiring. On the day you attend try not to rush in and out of the event – make time to have a look around and chat with others and see how you can upskill yourself in the process.

Why is repairing better than replacing?

In a world of fast fashion, fast food and faster-still waste generation, the instinct to discard, rather than repair, has become strong.

These repair events are an important reminder that with a little know-how and time, we can get a longer life out of the items we purchase.

Repairing items is both good for our wallets and for the planet, as it reduces the volume of raw materials and energy needed to make new products and cuts CO2 emissions.

Woman checking her bike

Volunteers are eager to share their skills – you’re never too young or old to learn how to undertake your own repairs.

How to get involved?

AS A USER

If you have a broken item it’s as simple as turning up at the nominated time and requesting help.

You may need to wait a little depending on how well-attended the event is, what others are trying to fix, and how many volunteers are on hand that day. There may also be some do-it-yourself-style stations set up where you can access tools and materials that you might not have easy access to at home and undertake the repair by yourself.

Most events are run monthly (see below for the full list, as well as their locations and schedules).

Before you go it’s worth visiting the website or Facebook page of the group you are interested in – many will provide specific information around what they can and can’t repair (for example, there may be some limitations when it comes to electrical items).   

AS A VOLUNTEER

Many hands make light work and, as these events are run by volunteer committees, they are likely to be very happy to hear from people who are willing to share their time and expertise to repair items, chat with attendees, or assist with the administration and marketing involved in putting on the regular events. Why not drop them an email, or stop by on the next event day?


Repair cafés and labs in Perth and regional WA

Have we inspired you to dig out that box of broken items that were always too good to throw away and that you had thought might be fixable in some way? Great!

There are more than 10 volunteer-powered repair operations currently up and running in Western Australia.

Contact Frequency Location
Repair Café Perth
Email
10am – 12pm
The third Saturday of each month
Aranmore Catholic Primary School, Leederville
Repair Café Fremantle
Email
10am – 12pm
The first Sunday of each month
Stackwood, corner of Stack St and Wood St, Fremantle
Repair Café Belmont
Email
1pm – 3pm
The second Saturday of each month
Sapore Espresso Bar, Belmont Ave Cloverdale
Repair Café Bassendean
Email
9.30am – 12pm
The first Sunday of each month
O2 Café, Old Perth Road, Bassendean
Repair Café Doubleview
Email
10am – 12pm
The second Saturday of each month
Girl Guide Hall, Doubleview
Repair Café Narrogin
Email
10am – 2pm
The first Sunday of each month
See website for details
Repair Café Cockburn
Email
See website for details South Lake Ottey Family & Neighbourhood Centre
Repair Café Albany
Email
10am – 12pm
The second Saturday of each month
Scots Church Hall York St, Albany
Repair Café Lakelands 
Email
10am 1pm
The last Saturday of every month
Shop 23 (Opposite Lakelands Fresh) Lakelands Shopping Centre
Repair Lab Perth
Email
See website for details Vic Park, Mount Claremont + more. See website for details
Repair Lab Wembley
Email
See website for details Westcity Church, Wembley

All details are current at the time of publication but may be subject to change. Please ensure you check with the event organisers before attending. If you know of another repair-based event, or have a change to the above information please send us an email.

Share your repair successes

We’d love to know about your own experiences with this fantastic grassroots initiative so tag us on social media (@ownyourimpactwa), use #ownyourimpactwa when you share photos or email us.


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