Mending and repairing things we love or find useful is a hopeful and healing act. Sharing skills and stories, joy and hope are really powerful acts of community.
We’re lucky to have a band of dedicated volunteers in Keynsham who hold a Repair Café the second Saturday morning of every month at the Methodist Church on the High Street. This amazing bunch of seamstresses, mechanics, engineers and all-round fixers welcome people with broken furniture, appliances, bikes, plates, toys bags and clothes, and try to give them a new lease of life.
Repairing things isn’t just good for people, it’s fundamental to caring for the planet. Every year, collectively, the Earth’s inhabitants use up more resources from nature than the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate during that year.
This year, we are expected to reach that point on 28th July. It doesn’t take a maths genius to realise that using up two planets worth of resources in one year isn’t going to end well.
That’s why we need to repair what we can and not simply reach for the checkout button. ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ should be the mantra on all our lips, and in that order. Buy less, fix or repurpose things, and if they’re beyond repair, recycle to ensure the resources that went into making them are reused.
Last year, the government introduced a new law requiring manufacturers to make spare parts available to people buying electrical appliances. This law should extend the lifespan of products by up to 10 years, and help reduce our carbon footprint. A few clothes manufacturers are also beginning to offer repair or sewing lessons for customers.
It’s a positive step, but if the government really wanted to tackle ‘throw away culture’ they could do one simple thing – include mending in the school curriculum. How amazing it would be to send an army of teens into the world knowing how to fix their computers and mend their clothes.
In the meantime, can anyone teach me how to use the sewing machine that’s been sitting in my attic for a decade?!
This article was first published in the Keynsham Voice – July 2022