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Reducing landfill with UCA's Repair Café

In just its first year of operation, the Farnham Repair Café has given a new lease of life to nearly 400 kilograms of damaged household items, diverting them from environmentally costly landfill. Established in February 2015 by our Centre for Sustainable Design and the local initiative Transition Town Farnham, the Repair Café meets every month and encourages local people to ‘share the repair’ by bringing along damaged items in need of restoration.

The international Repair Café movement launched in the Netherlands in 2009 and there are now 18 Repair Cafés in the UK. The Farnham Repair Café is supported by a steering board and funded through donations and grants.

In addition to repairing items, the Repair Café also offers a Creative Zone, giving attendees the chance to explore new ideas around the customising and 'up-cycling' of new products. The Saturday morning sessions also look to provide owners with a greater understanding of how their product works, along with an insight into why repairing is a better solution to recycling or throwing an item away.

“A successful repair should increase the useful lifetime of a product, therefore diverting waste from landfill,” said Professor Martin Charter from our Centre for Sustainable Design. “The Repair Café has been really well-received and it operates as a place to socialise and network, adding to Farnham’s identity as a crafts town.”

The Repair Café has attracted over 400 attendees to its 11 sessions. Electrical and textile-related products have been the most repaired items, but the team of repairers (made up of local volunteers and staff from UCA and Transition Town Farnham) have also worked on bicycles, furniture, baby strollers and vacuum cleaners.

You can find out more about the Farnham Repair Café on their Facebook page. You can also discover more about the work of our Centre for Sustainable Design, and our other Research Centres, here.