Bengaluru's repair cafe that can fix anything except a broken heart

All about repairs - learning, teaching or simply getting your stuff fixed
Bengaluru's repair cafe that can fix anything except a broken heart
Bengaluru's repair cafe that can fix anything except a broken heart

Once damaged, an item of everyday use is most likely to find its way to garbage. But if you are someone who prefers to repair but do not know where to go, Bengaluru at least, has a great solution: Repair Café.

Modelled on the Repair Café Foundation in Amsterdam, Purna Sarkar and Antara Mukherjee began a similar initiative to create a one-stop shop for people who need repairs with objects and those who can provide it and even someone who might simply want to learn.

“In Indian society, repair is a virtue lost with the advent of consumerism. It is a dying skill and in this urban bias, repairers are marginalized. We felt it’s time that we rewind our culture ethos,” says Purna.

The Repair Café’s underlying premise that reuse as a strategy, has a lesser environmental impact than recycling, which consumes energy. Ultimately, with repairs, the entire lifecycle of a product need not be repeated, thereby reducing the CO2 emissions.

Having conducted five workshops across the city since the first one in November 2015, Purna has found, that one of the biggest challenges is that a tech-savvy generation is high on use-and-throw.

In an email interview, Purna said that people’s orientation had been shifted away from “simple processes” such as reuse “that can reduce the burden of high energy consumption economy”. The focus should again value repairs over recycling, she says. Not reusing items has given way to resource illiteracy where neither practical knowledge nor preservation of resources is valued, she says.

At Repair Café is essentially a workshop where repairers, volunteers and visitors can gather to repair household items. The repairers are professionals from Bengaluru’s repair markets who are passionate about their profession. “They are sourced from our repair database. We select them upon the feedback given by their customers,” says Purna.

Repairs are charged at prices varying between Rs 40 and Rs 200. Operating on a no-profit no-loss system, the workshop budgets are kept low by working with waste material available in the environment. The café is also looking at crowd funding their project, through the online platform Ketto. According to the campaign, one can donate Rs 1,000 towards the cause and avail repairs worth the amount.

The response to the initiative has been a varied one, says Purna. Recording a total footfall of 150 people in five workshops, the initiative has seen a repair rate of 82%.

So, what lies ahead in store for the Repair Café? “We are looking to conduct more workshops in Bengaluru this year and encourage and support communities till they start their own Repair Cafes,” says Purna. “It’s an initiative of people, by the people and for the people.”

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