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Repair Cafe a celebration of sustainability

Every time an item is fixed at Repair Cafe Fremantle, its owner rings a bell and everyone else applauds.

It is a celebration of sustainability — an acknowledgement that one less item will make its way to landfill.

With more than 50 items fixed in two hours yesterday, the bell regularly punctuated the din of laughter and woodwork.

The repairers are local volunteers happy to pass on knowledge and give up time for a good cause.

There is a trio of women on sewing machines, a small band of people on electronics and an 82-year-old man named Geoffrey who fixes bicycles.

Sewing machinist Kester McKay patched up a kangaroo joey bag for a wildlife rescue group.

She also fixed the zip of a university’s student backpack which had broken mainly due to shoddy manufacturing.

“The atmosphere is just beautiful here and I really like fixing things,” Ms McKay said.

“My father always fixed things and I just grew up with that mentality.

Rebecca Tong ringing the bell with her fixed toaster.Rebecca Tong ringing the bell with her fixed toaster.
Camera IconRebecca Tong ringing the bell with her fixed toaster.Picture: Ross Swanborough

“We want to show people who didn’t grow up with that how to fix their own things to keep things out of landfill.”

Simon Rovis-Hermann is a luthier, antique furniture restorer and father of four.

He spent part of his morning fixing a child’s rocking chair which had been salvaged from the roadside.

“I’ve always collected old furniture and fixed it up myself,” Mr Rovis-Hermann said.

“I don’t like stuff being tossed out. I’m a hoarder. I’ve got a workshop of leftover bits and pieces which I will make it into things.

“This is a really nice way to save stuff and also give back a bit to the community.”

Rebecca Tong rang the bell after her faulty DeLonghi toaster was brought back to life.

She should have an easier time getting her children fed before school.

Fremantle’s Silvia Ferolla brought in some particularly precious cargo — an Alf toy she had treasured for 30 years.

“He’s travelled across the world and I sleep with him every night,” Ms Ferolla said.

After some emergency surgery, Alf’s eye was back in its socket.

Silvia Ferolla repairing her beloved Alf stuffed toy.Silvia Ferolla repairing her beloved Alf stuffed toy.
Camera IconSilvia Ferolla repairing her beloved Alf stuffed toy.Picture: Ross Swanborough

“We had an eye blowout and I didn’t want there to be a double eye blowout,” she said.

“So we utilised a drill over here, did some eye surgery first and then stitching with the sewing ladies.”

The Repair Cafe movement has spread from the Netherlands around the world since 2009.

Several Repair Cafe and Repair Lab locations have popped up across Perth in the past year – from Bassendean to Peppermint Grove.

Donations are welcomed but not required.

Repair Cafe organiser Jo Blackley.Repair Cafe organiser Jo Blackley.
Camera IconRepair Cafe organiser Jo Blackley.Picture: Ross Swanborough

Fremantle organiser Jo Blackley said Repair Cafes were aimed at pushing back against the trend of throwing things out.

“We really need to recapture this capacity we have to at least attempt to repair something first,” Ms Blackley said.

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