Throw-away culture challenged at the Repair Café

The Repair Café encourages repurposing and reuse by creating a second chance for items headed for the bin.

A rapidly developing and demanding consumer society has led to a decrease in product value and  given way to a wasteful throw-away culture. Unlike the more frugal generations of the past, if something is broken, it is more likely to be replaced for an upgraded version than repaired. Repair Café in Bangalore, India is hoping to change this habit by providing repair services for anything from electrical appliances to jewellery or clothing. 

The Repair Café organises workshops in venues around the city where expert handymen or women volunteer to patch up visitors’ broken or damaged goods. Tools and equipment are also supplied for those who prefer to do their own repair work. 

A nominal registration fee of 50 Indian rupees gets one item fixed. For more than one repair there is a fixed price for different categories of items but some volunteers are happy to provide their services for free.

The concept was originally started by Martine Postman in the Netherlands back in 2007 and has since taken off with over 1000 Repair Cafés around the world. The branch in Bangalore was set up by human resources professional Purna Sarkar and graphic designer Antara Mukherji. The two women are driven by creating awareness around sustainable living and helping people reuse and repurpose what may be considered disposable. 

To upskill the Bangalore community, Sarkar and Mukherji also arrange DIY workshops that train participants how to repurpose certain objects. One of the workshops focussed on transforming old smartphones into security cameras, offline GPS devices and local intercom networks.