By Michelle Fisher
There’s a wave of decluttering happening, inspired by the ABC’s War on Waste and Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up program. The “Kon-Mari method” invites us to only keep possessions that bring us happiness, or that “spark joy”. This sentiment harks back to that famous 19th century quote of William Morris that still resonates today:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful,
As you go through your stuff, once you’ve sorted out the obvious junk, you may find that you still have things that you really love. They might be in disrepair or simply don’t work for some unknown reason. Or you might realise that you’ve rarely used the thing (other than giving it “room and board”), and resist getting rid of it. It’s still in great condition, after all, and it might come in handy one day!
Aside from throwing things out or donating them to Vinnies or the Salvos (which can itself create problems for councils and charity organisations), how else might you honour your cherished and useful goods, and even still be able to access to them when you need them?
Well, you’re in luck! You can take your broken goods and torn clothing down to your local repair café where volunteer fixers will show you how to mend them – for free! The Melbourne Repair Café (Inner West) was set up three years ago. At the time, it was the first repair café in Melbourne and one of only five in Australia! Now there are dozens in Australia which are part of an international movement that includes over 1700 repair cafes across 33 countries. The Melbourne Repair Café runs monthly repair sessions out of the Yarraville Community Centre. Check out the website to see when the next repair session is and how they run, or locate another repair café or fix-it initiative near you: http://melbournerepaircafe.org.
If you’re looking to move on useful goods that are still in really good nick, you can give them a second life by donating them to Sharing Shed Melbourne – a new initiative starting up in Melbourne’s Inner West that is working on setting up a “library of things”. The Sharing Shed will offer low-cost memberships to enable individuals and other community organisations to borrow infrequently-used but really handy items for holding events, trying out new recreational pursuits, doing home maintenance and more. If you want to donate your quality 2nd hand goods or otherwise get involved, head over to the Sharing Shed’s website at http://sharingshedmelbourne.org.au.
Michelle Fisher is the founder and coordinator of Melbourne Repair Café (Inner West) and co-founder and Chief Executive of Sharing Shed Melbourne. You can follow these initiatives on Facebook and Instagram – just search for “melbournerepaircafe” and “sharingshedmelbourne”.
This article also appeared in the February 2019 print edition of The Westsider newspaper.
By Jenny Lindsay
Let’s make a few bold predictions about the coming year. There’s a lot in store for those of us who are passionate about repairing goods and sharing skills.
Get a fresh start with good-as-new treasures
Playtime’s over and those new presents probably got a workout - are they needing a little TLC? Did you use the down-time over the festive period to do a clear out and found some old broken or damaged gear? Looking after those items that still “spark joy” is as easy as taking them to the next Repair Café session. A skilled volunteer fixer will help you restore life to your well-loved things, and you’ll pick up some handy fixing tips.
Thank you to all of our fans
We’re sure to see a number of fans needing some love after working hard through the heatwave.
With plenty more summertime to go, if you’ve got a fan that’s seen better days, bring it in for us to have a look and fix it if we can.
You can learn to repair your own appliance so you don’t get caught out in the heat.
Repair Café community continues to grow
With more Repair Cafes and Fix-it initiatives starting across Victoria, there’ll be opportunities for Repair Café tourism – check them all out here. Bring your friends over westside, or stop by to see a different session. People can learn to repair practically anywhere!
Some of our fixing folks already head over from Yarraville to St Kilda Repair Café on the same day! We love to hear how our fellow Repair Café crews are doing. Do pass on our regards when you visit.
Mend It Australia’s Karen and Danny are the experts at tinker travelling. We’re looking forward to their visit for our upcoming 3rd Anniversary session in March.
Repair, Share, Learn
The more you learn to repair, the more you’ll enjoy your treasured things for longer. There’ll be less need to throw things out when you’ve found a friendly Repair Café to help you maintain them. You might find you have some things you rarely use that you can share with others. Bring on the Sharing Shed. We’re creating a library of things – equipment, tools, small appliances, etc – which members of the Sharing Shed can borrow to get things done around the house, or create new experiences with recreational equipment. Learn more about this project on our brand new website and follow us on Facebook for updates
Michelle Fisher is the founder and coordinator of the Melbourne Repair Cafe (Inner West). She is more comfortable wielding pens than tools and welcomes contributions from those who can wield one or the other or both! Please send submissions to the Melbourne Repair Cafe's email address..
Jenny Lindsay is a seeker of sustainable lifestyle solutions who regularly helps out on the Repair Café registration desk. Jenny is the founder of Connectjen virtual assistant which offers copywriting, marketing and admin support for businesses committed to challenging the status quo.