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Sustainability ‘Repair café’ breathes new life into old things

Whether it’s a one-eyed teddy bear, a jammed zipper or a broken toaster, you can have it fixed – for free – at one of Switzerland’s ‘Repair Cafés’. 

On regularly scheduled dates all over the country, volunteers of all ages donate their time, tools and expertise to repairing electronics, clothing, toys, and other household items. Many are retired and appreciate the chance to share their skills in a lively and sociable atmosphere. 

Indeed, the demand for their services is quite high. It’s first-come, first-served, so it pays to arrive early. And while there’s no charge for the money-saving repair service, tips are certainly appreciated. Sometimes it’s even possible to “upcycle” old objects – creating something new and unique out of what might have gone to waste. 

Sponsored by Konsumentenschutzexternal link, a Swiss consumer protection foundation, the Repair Café workers make a note of commonly occurring defects and report them to the manufacturers. swissinfo.ch visited a Repair Café in Bern – where all sorts of defective goods were being rejuvenated.

(Photos by Ester Unterfinger, text by Susan Misicka)

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