Photo by: Mariane Khron - Unsplash
Reading the news, and thinking about topics like inequality and climate change, often leaves me feeling helpless and frustrated. But every other month, when I pack my sewing machine and supplies for Repair Cafe, I know that in my own small way, I’ll make a difference by helping others reuse items destined for the landfill. We’ve seen the statistics: in 2015, Americans threw almost 138 million tons of trash, including electronics, textiles, and other goods, in landfills. Repair Café provides the strength our communities need to stand up to planned obsolescence and to Big Plastic and to build positive connections.
I grew up in a “Repair Café” house, with creative parents who love to repair things and who watched their Depression-era parents save and reuse rather than throwing something away. I learned to sew when I was four and used my sewing skills to make and repair doll clothes and then as I became older, to repair my own thrift store finds for myself and my family. I visited the Repair Café in 2017 and was instantly hooked. I loved, and continue to love, the idea of giving a favorite clothing item a longer life. My first morning as a volunteer “Stitcher” was an exhilarating time that involved animated pleas from other volunteers for pins and scissors, laughs, and a lot of learning. I repaired pants hems, enlarged waistbands, and fixed holes in backpacks and bags. The day went by in a blur, but I remember feeling almost deliriously happy from all the positive energy and gratitude. I felt so lucky to be part of the volunteer teams.
The community-building part of the Repair Café is also meaningful. Not only do we volunteers experience endorphins that produce the “helper’s high,” but we also connect with other volunteers. My fellow Stitchers recently met up for a skills workshop and even though I am in a different stage of life than the other volunteers, I felt welcomed and valued. Plus, I always learn new sewing techniques and tricks and will hopefully be a more efficient Stitcher next time.
I still feel helpless when I read the news, but thanks to the Repair Café, I have learned to immediately think, “And I’m doing something about it.” Join us! Our next Repair Café is on March 30th, 2019 http://www.repair-cafe-pasadena.org