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Living Lightly column

The Fix

By Richard Paschke, Wangaratta

A couple of years back I heard of something called Repair Café. Someone in Amsterdam had the idea to help people fix their broken goods and keep them from going to landfill. At the time I thought ‘What a great idea’.  I also thought ‘a lot of effort for little gain’ and I didn’t have a lot of hope for its longevity.

Seven years later I heard that there was a Repair Café in Albury/Wodonga and so I had a look on the Repair Cafés website.  How wrong I was: There are now over 1,400 Repair Cafes worldwide and the grassroots movement is growing at a rapid pace. A few enthusiastic tinkerers have opened one in Wangaratta and they have adopted cutting edge technology like 3D printing to help fix stuff that otherwise goes to waste.

A little bit more research and I found a plethora of grassroots organisations in Wangaratta, all aimed to promote a more sustainable way to live. There is a group called Waste Wise Wangaratta which is an umbrella organisation for groups like Plastic Wise Wangaratta, Boomerang Bags Wangaratta, Wang Repair Café and Responsible Cafés Wangaratta.  These groups consist of passionate volunteers who want to make a difference and they do.

They are the ones to declare towns ‘plastic bag free’ and force state and federal governments to follow with bans. They are the ones to re-use discarded fabric to produce re-usable shopping bags to substitute plastic bags. They are the ones to find alternatives to single use coffee cups. They are the ones to pick up litter in the environment. They are the ones to make a difference often starting with a ‘totally crazy’ idea and making it stick and feel normal.

I have been working in waste management for 18 years and while Governments are busy trying to please industry, people make the change on the ground.  Even though it is not the objective of the sustainability organisations they are also the ones that generate social connections and create better communities and help people connect and generally be happier.  All these grassroots groups are run by volunteers and you can find them on Facebook or Google.

Contact them, connect, make a difference and lead a happier more fulfilled life now – I have.