On Saturday, June 10, we at EcoEquitable participated in our first Repair Café, which was held at NU Grocery on Main Street, Ottawa. NU Grocery is a bring-your-own-tupperware grocery store with everything from spices to produce to individual eggs and fill-your-own canola oil!
You may be wondering: What is a Repair Café? Why are they important? What did the day look like? Will there be more? Well, read on, Eco enthusiasts, and we will answer each of these questions and hopefully turn you onto repair as an option!
What is a Repair Café?
A Repair Café is a community event where local repair artists/menders/fixers of all sorts come together to provide free repair services. They are held to both provide an accessible option for locals to have items repaired at, as well as to promote the practice of sustainability through repair and reuse, all while reducing the need to throw out old garments or buy new clothes! These events come in all different shapes and sizes. For example, sometimes they involve fixers for everything from clothes to household appliances to bikes, and sometimes they are just one of these options. On Saturday, we held a clothing-specific repair café, and to great success!
Why are Repair Cafés important to a sustainable future?
In Canada, we have a very waste-based mindset when it comes to clothing. Let's say a sweater is missing a button, or a pair of jeans doesn't fit anymore. These types of garments are often thrown straight to landfill without a second thought, as the average Canadian throws away 37 kgs of clothing every year (that is 81 lbs!). Otherwise, we donate clothes to thrift stores and hope that they resell it, even if the garments are a little ripped or broken. Furthermore, resale is not as sustainable an option as many believe, as 70% of donated textiles from North America go to countries in Africa, where clothes oversaturate the local markets and pollute both rivers and land.
When you think about it, since so many clothes today are made with synthetic fabrics, this wasteful mindset of throwing out clothes when they tear or lose a button has turned clothing into a nearly single-use plastic.
With that in mind, rather than continuing the overconsumption and wastefulness that has become so common, we should be trying to keep the clothes that we have usable for as long as possible. A great way to do this is with Repair Cafés! With so many minds thinking about how to mend/upcycle garments, you are sure to find a way to save your clothes and be able to continue using them for years to come!
Sew, what did the day look like?
Four menders worked for the entire two-hour morning café, replacing buttons and zippers, patching holes, and hiding torn cuffs on sleeves. We even had one innovative mind come up with the idea to use one of our free EcoEquitable headbands as a stretchy fabric to replace a zipper with!
The stories we heard about the sentimentalities of the repaired clothes were astounding. For one person, the torn cuffs of a shirt came from years of use, and the repair of these rips meant more happy memories to come.
Button replacements were also very popular at this Repair Café, and some folks even tried their hand at repairing their own garments, with the tutelage of our menders!
We also had a secondhand fabric market positioned at the doors of NU Grocery, where we sold quilting cotton from our Eco Fabric Boutique. We had quite a few customers that day, many of whom bought a square or two of cotton so that they could patch holes at the repair café!
All in all, our first Repair Café was a fantastic experience, and we are sew excited to host and participate in more going forward! If you are interested in these types of events, give us a comment below, and share this story to spread the word about the importance of repair cafés!
Written by: A. B. Hart
If you are interested in co-hosting an event like this, get in contact with us at email@example.com .