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Thinking of Tossing Out That Busted Appliance? The Repair Café Says There's a Greener Way

Think about that old broken microwave, torn sweater, or busted vacuum.

Did you just want to toss it?

There’s another way — a greener way — and the Repair Café is leading the charge.

The pop-up repair workshop, most recently seen in Pasadena featuring volunteer tinkerers, seamstresses, and electricians, troubleshoots how to fix that thing you’re about to throw out.

“Once people are here, they are happy,” said Ginko Lee, lead organized with Repair Café. “It’s almost like Christmas.”

One of the best parts? It’s all for free.

Volunteers many times are able to repair most of the items brought to them.

A woman brought in a broken floor lamp at the most recent pop-up. The wires were a mess, and another part was broken.

But after some rewiring – and a little trial and error – it was as good as new.

“I’m hooked. I can’t wait to come back,” Ashaki Denise Jones said.

Repair Café started in Amsterdam back in 2009.

“We just want to start a culture where people fix their own item and treasure it,” Lee said.

But even after a decade in Southern California, the concept isn’t as popular as it is overseas.

“I think Americans are used to buying. We’re used to buying our way out of problems,” Anne Louise Bannon said. Bannon stitches up old but salvageable clothing.

“We are a disposable economy and that’s criminal. We’ve got to stop that attitude.”

Some volunteer fixers participate because of their profession.

Some volunteer because of their passion.

Bannon’s day job?

“I write murder mysteries,” she said.

All of them are bursting at seams to help.

“Fast fashion is a massive, massive problem,” Bannon said.

According to, the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing each year.

Pasadena Vice Mayor Felicia Williams is also willing to give up a Saturday to fix what she can for her community.

“I’m on the basic level of sewing. So I get the really basic stuff,” she said. “But, you know, it’s nice to help in any way I can.”

So, why doesn’t every town have a Repair Café?

“It’s not difficult to start,” Lee said. “And I think that is something that makes sense to do.”

Repair Cafés hope to encourage a sustainable mindset. When something around your house stops working, resist the urge to trash it. and figure out a way to save it.

“Nobody likes to do a lot of work but there’s so much you can learn about the world by just trying to fix things,” michael said.

The next pop-up Repair Café is Saturday, May 20 at the Glendale Central Library.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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