Repair and Fixing

This is first part of a series looking at everyday activities, organisations and campaigns that support contributing to everyday sustainable change (in Reading UK and beyond)

A Few Ideas for Number 1

(These are Reading based, however similar can be applicable in many other towns and cities).

    1. Broken doesn’t have to mean Goodbye – Repair, Mend, Maintain, Sew, Knit and Reinvent it! 

      Something broke? Don’t worry you can fix it! One of the best things you can do is to extend the life of your products (if only more were designed better with this in mind as well – but that’s another post).

      Reading has it’s very own monthly Repair Café where you can take just about anything that might need fixing, sewing, rewiring, or even get your knifes sharpened. The clever volunteer repairers will have a go, over a cup of tea and homemade cake.  Started as one of the great initiatives from Transition Town Reading, this is inspired by the global Repair Cafe community that originated in the Netherlands.

      Fixer at Reading Repair Cafe

In other cities there are ones that focus on electronics, such as the Restart Project in London and Ifixit who publish guides online for fixing and supply special tools to replace that Broken Iphone screen. They all recently took part in FixFest held in London, where the Open Repair Alliance was launched.

These groups are not just about  fixing things, but perhaps about beginning to repair our relationship with stuff, question the design and manufacture of them in the first place and build local community connections at the same time.

A Repair Cafe Session at RISC

One of the venues where it is often held and with members and machinery supporting in the repair, is the r-Lab, Reading’s very own open hackspace. Here you can access a wide variety or tools and machines (and knowledge), from 3D printers to laser cutters,  to mend, experiment, invent and make.  It’s a real collaboration space where tech based approaches and converge with community and environment. They have an open evening on Wednesday evenings.

ReadyBikes at Reading Station

If it’s your bike that needs some love than there’s also Reading Bicycle Kitchen. Instead of perhaps needing to buy a collection of specialist (and expensive) tools yourself or drop it off at a bicycle mechanic, you can rent some space and borrow tools to fix and fine tune your bike yourself under volunteer guidance.

On the cycling front, Reading also has a bike “sharing” scheme or rental,  Readybike scheme (although perhaps some of the  infrastructure could do with some work to support cyclists more)

La Sartoria window display

Not so handy with a needle and thread or perhaps sewing machines quite frankly scare you? Then not to fear because there are a number of tailors in Reading that will be able to advise, design and fix your clothing. I took my favourite bag to La Sartoria for a strap fix to extend its life! They also have a constantly changing creative window displays that often brings a smile to my face.

And I know there are so many more

Want to join in mapping the organisations, people and campaigns doing some great things to get involved with and support, then share in comments, #ecordguk or just contact me!

Stay tuned for 2 to 5

NOTE: The Next Reading Repair Cafe is on the 18 th of February 2018 at RISC from 13:00

5 Tips For Supporting Everyday Sustainable Change

  1. Broken doesn’t have to mean Goodbye – Repair, Mend, Maintain, Sew, Knit and Reinvent it!
  2. Get creative with what you have, learn and be inspired by othersTry making your own gifts, or perhaps give or take part in a workshop or events that support this
  3. Try eating and buying more Local, Seasonal, Veggie and homemadeGood for the environment and your tummy
  4. Always Question and Choose for Ethical and good design – Fairtrade, good materials, ethical policies, 2nd hand and support local and independent
  5. Get out, share and connect! There are loads of Community initiatives sharing Knowledge, Spaces, Connecting, creating Tech, Energy and supporting getting out into Nature


This blog originated from involvement with the Open Source Circular Economy days  (#OSCEdays) and an original mapping with participants during Reading Green Fest.

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