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Repair Cafe Belfast is Making Waste Wonderful!

As a local Waste Management company, we are always on the lookout for businesses, organisations and community groups who are working at Making Waste Wonderful.

ISL is committed to diverting ALL waste from landfill. Often that is achieved through recycling, but following the principles of the Circular Economy it is always preferable to firstly reduce waste and next to reuse.

This month we are showcasing an innovative new group in Northern Ireland, the Repair Cafe, Belfast. Holding regular events across the city, attendees can bring along broken items in their homes and have them fixed for free, thanks to a group of local ‘fixperts’.

We spoke to organiser Christine McCartney about how the Repair Cafe came about and what sort of work they carry out at each event. Read our interview below.


What is Repair Cafe Belfast?

“The repair cafe aims to stop stuff becoming waste in the first place by keeping it working for longer. It gives people an alternative for things which might otherwise be thrown away or which might lurk at the back of a cupboard, simply because their owners don’t know what’s wrong or how to get them working again. It can seem like less hassle to go and buy a new one, but we want to give people an easy, friendly and affordable alternative.”

When / How / Why Did the Repair Cafe Start?

“We held our first Repair cafe in Belfast in December at the Farset Labs – we really didn’t know how it would go, who would come or what they’d bring. In the end, it was a fantastic day, with 13 fix-perts sharing their expertise and mending everything from light up shoes to lamps, trousers to tables, DVD players to toys, bikes and power tools. That’s part of the fun – you never know what people will bring but the volunteer repairers seemed to enjoy the challenge.”

“The atmosphere was fantastic, it really brought all kinds of people together. People really appreciated someone giving up their time and talents to help them fix their stuff. We ask people to sit down with the repairer and join in the repair where possible, so folk are finding out about the things they’ve brought along, how they work and picking up some repair skills themselves. The whole thing is run by volunteers – not just the fixers but all the organisers, welcomers, bakers and coffee makers – we couldn’t do it without their help. And the repairs are free, people can make a donation to help run more repair cafe events if they want. The feedback has been so positive, from both the public and from volunteers, it really encourages us to keep going!”

“I wanted to start a repair cafe partly because when I heard about the idea, i couldn’t believe there wasn’t one here already. I was taking a bit of a career break, and I wanted to do something practical and local in the meantime. That and I had loads of broken things at home I couldn’t bear to just throw out but didn’t know how to get them back up and running!”

belfast repair cafe“I hate pointless waste – it costs us all so much in the long run. I hate that things used to be built to last but are now built to last a short time. It turns out I wasn’t the only one who felt like this. Lots of other people had heard about repair cafes elsewhere and wanted to see one up and running in Belfast, or just loved the idea when they heard about it, and we came together and got the ball rolling. I think people like the idea and that it’s just been set up by a bunch of people who are passionate about making good things happen – there’s no big organisation or funding behind it.”

What’s Next for the Group?

“We just held our second event at the end of February and are working on a couple more before the summer. We really hope it will become a regular thing that will encourage more people to think repair first. We’ve also heard from people all over Northern Ireland who would love to see one in their local area – we hope what we are doing inspires other people to set up a repair cafe where they live.”

“We’d love to see people at our repair cafes to see for themselves how it works and to share what we’ve learnt so far. It’d be great to see the idea catch on. No doubt we’ve lots more to learn here too.”

Find out more about the Belfast Repair Cafe, when the events are running and how to get involved here, or check them out on Facebook.

Making Waste Wonderful? Get Featured!

Is your business, organisation, school or charity group Making Waste Wonderful? Are you doing something innovative with waste, moving to reusable products instead of disposable plastic, cleaning your local beach or anything environmentally friendly?

We would love to hear from you. To get featured email