Repair Workshop gives items a second chance at life

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Sustainability Office was excited to host Waterloo's second Personal Item Repair Workshop in partnership with Sustainable Campus Initiative, Julie Cook, and Murray Zink. Looking for a meaningful way to take action on our "throwaway culture" and to build community around zero waste practices, Julie Cook, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Environment, and Murray Zink, a staff member in the Waterloo Professional Development (WatPD) program, contacted the two groups to collaborate.

In July 2019, the team piloted the first repair workshop on campus for small electronics/appliances to gauge the interest level and to identify areas for improvement. Feedback from attendees was very positive, but there was a clear need to expand repair expertise beyond electronics.

Jewelry repairer fixing a ring on metal rodOn Wednesday, November 27, more than 40 staff and students joined the repair workshop to see if one of our nine expert "fixers" could bring their overly-loved items back to life. The fixers - with a range of expertise in electronics, clothing, and jewelry - brought their own equipment and set up around the EV3 Design Studio. Attendees were served on a first-come, first-served basis, and were encouraged to observe other items being fixed as they waited for a spot to open up.

Fixers worked collaboratively with attendees - and other fixers as needed! - to problem solve and determine the best coures of action. Along the way, attendees were encouraged to play an active role in the repair process to gain knowledge and build new skills. 

Mother and daughter posing with "FIXED" sign and fixed toasterIn two hours, the FIXED bell rang more than 25 times for a range of items, including a kettle, lamp, headphones, jackets, pants, sweaters, a leather purse, and multiple pieces of jewelry. Some items needed additional expertise and were referred to other experts in the community, and electrical items that could not be repaired were donated to the MAD lab for their e-waste collection program. Regardless of the outcome, attendees left with a smile on their face. Many noted how much fun they had learning and observing, and how eager they were for the next event. 

A huge thank you to our volunteer repairers for donating their time and expertise:

  • Nine volunteer repairers for repair workshopDan Beaver
  • Amaryah deGroot
  • Sina Golchi
  • Shay Ivkovic
  • Akshit Marwah 
  • Paul McKone
  • Kate Motz
  • Samantha St. Amand
  • Murray Zink

The group is very excited to be building a repair community, and encourage you to stay tuned for the next repair event in Winter 2020! If you are interested in volunteering as a repairer, please email Andrea Bale for more information.