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Repair, Don’t Toss, for Earth Day!

Repair1Think of all that stuff in our homes we get rid of every year when we’re doing our spring cleaning.

That usually includes a few broken pieces of furniture and small appliances we couldn’t fix ourselves, or never got around to fixing. And what about all those clothes with holes or missing buttons?

Sure, we can recycle many of those items. But wouldn’t it be better if you could keep wearing that favorite pair of jeans, or keep using that lamp that’s been in your family for three generations?

Now you can, when you embrace the rising repair movement.

In this under-the-radar movement, people are finding new ways to get their household items repaired.

With the multitude of free online videos and guides now available at home or the library, it’s a snap to teach yourself how to fix something. And now you can also easily find out online what parts you need, and order them so they arrive within a couple days.

Repair2

In Federal Way, five fixers worked on 37 items, including lamps, chairs, hole-y jeans, a sewing machine, and an electric lawn mower.

Fix-it community events

If you’re not excited about doing it yourself, try another way to get your stuff fixed: The King County EcoConsumer program has launched a program of free community repair events in south King County!

The first two events were held in Kent and Federal Way earlier this year. As part of the celebration for Earth Day (April 22), repair events will be held in Renton on April 2, in Kent again on April 7, and at the King County Housing Authority’s Seola Gardens community on April 26, for Seola Gardens residents.

All the King County repair events except that first Seola Gardens event are open to the general public, and they’re all free. Just bring in items needing to be repaired, from small appliances to small furniture to clothing. Our experienced volunteer “fixers” will do their best to repair them, and they can also often show you how to repair them yourself next time.

Find info about all the King County community repair groups or events (some are called repair cafés) at KCecoconsumer.com. If you are interested in being a volunteer fixer, want to bring something to be fixed, or would like to start a repair group in your community in King County, call 206-477-4481 or e-mail tom.watson@kingcounty.gov.

These community repair get-togethers help keep stuff out of the landfill, conserve resources, combat climate change by reducing consumption, and build community. Retired folks and seniors have been especially attracted to this concept, both as volunteer fixers and to bring stuff in for repair.

At the March repair event in Federal Way, our five fixers worked on 37 items, including lamps, chairs, hole-y jeans, a sewing machine, an electric lawn mower and much more—fixing 75 percent of them.

To extend the life of the things we own and use, maintenance is the first cousin of repair. When we properly maintain our things, we buy fewer new products, once again addressing climate change by consuming less.

Repair3

Community repair get-togethers help keep stuff out of the landfill, conserve resources, combat climate change by reducing consumption, and build community.

Tool libraries save time and money

In a project connected with the community repair groups, the King County EcoConsumer program also supports and assists tool lending libraries, which foster maintenance, reuse, and repair. In the past two years, tool libraries have opened on Vashon Island and in Fall City. The South King Tool Library (which co-sponsors the repair cafés in Federal Way) will serve the Federal Way/Auburn area and is expected to open later this year.

ecoconsumerLocally, tool libraries—and repair groups for that matter—got their start in Seattle, supported by Seattle Public Utilities and other organizations. West Seattle, Southeast Seattle, Phinney Ridge and Northeast Seattle all have thriving tool libraries, and the Capitol Hill Tool Library will open soon. Several of these tool libraries offer “fixers collectives,” yet another name for repair groups.

So borrow a tool instead of buying one, to keep your home and your things in top shape and help them last longer. When your tools or other things need work, repair them! Repair and reuse are an awesome way to celebrate Earth Day, and a great way for us to live all year round.


Questions or suggestions for future articles? Contact King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson, a project manager for King County Recycling and Environmental Services (www.KCecoconsumer.com) at tom.watson@kingcounty.gov or 206-477-4481.

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