TU Delft studies repair cafes

An interdisciplinary project group of second year master’s students has studied repair cafés in the greater Rotterdam-The Hague area to research how repairing might promote more sustainable lifestyles.

These days not many of us repair our broken goods. We don’t know how to ourselves. It is often time consuming and costly, so we prefer to throw away our defective items and buy new ones. The Dutch population generates half a ton of waste per inhabitant per year.

Martine Postma started the Dutch Repair Café initiative in 2009 in Amsterdam to counter these habits. A repair café is a freely accessible meeting where people gather to fix their broken objects, openly pooling their knowledge in the company of repair specialists. Participants work on repairing everything from toasters to sweaters. In Delft, the Repair Café meets on the first Saturday of the month at the Science Centre.
The five researchers from the Industrial Ecology Master were a mixed group of Dutch and interna-tional students with study backgrounds in business and public administration, civil engineering and architecture. They visited several Repair Cafés, sometimes even to get an object fixed, interviewed the organisers, set up a survey for participants and non-participants (fellow students). They also interviewed Postma.

This study is part of ongoing TU Delft research in the European Union GLAMURS project (Green Lifestyles, Alternative Models and Upscaling Regional Sustainability.) The research has allowed the group to make policy recommendations given the potential for repair practices to spread and contribute to making consumption more sustainable.

One interesting thing the researchers found was that among the population of seniors, repair culture seems to be alive and well.

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