When fixing items is actively discouraged by manufacturers, recycling becomes a political act, say Repair Cafe volunteers
A vacuum cleaner, a hair straightener, a laptop, Christmas illuminates, an e-reader, a blender, a kettle, two purses, a pair of jeans, a remote-control helicopter, a spoon, a dining-room chair, a lamp and hair clippers. All broken.
It sounds like a heap of things that you’d stick in boxes and take to the tip. In fact, it’s a list of things mended in a single afternoon by British volunteers determined to get people to stop hurling stuff away.
This is the Reading Repair Cafe, part of a burgeoning international network aimed at confronting a world of stuff, of white goods littering dumps in west Africa and junk swilling through the oceans and seas in huge gyres.
The hair clippers belong to William, who does not want to give his surname but cheerfully describes himself as” mechanically incompetent “. He has owned them for 25 years, but 10 years ago they stopped working and they have been sitting unused in his cupboard ever since.