By Lizette Salmon, Coordinator, Repair Café Albury-Wodonga
One of the main reasons I wanted to start a Repair Café in our region was to provide a fix-it service for broken electrical appliances. I’d had a run of broken kettles and was keen to learn how they might be repaired. Sadly, offering such a service opened a hornet’s nest of safety and insurance issues, which meant we aren’t able to include electrical appliances at our marvellous Repair Café. But if you, like me, refuse to toss broken appliances in the bin, there are environmentally-friendly alternatives.
The first is to get appliances fixed by a professional repairer. This may not always be cost-effective, but it’s worth checking, especially since there are 16 electrical repairers in Albury-Wodonga alone. They’re listed at the bottom of the Repair Café Albury-Wodonga webpage on eco.redsally.com. While you’re there, you might want to note the dates of our 2016 Repair Cafe sessions.
If you’re not in a hurry to get your electrical appliances fixed, put them aside until your next trip to Melbourne and drop them in at Bright Sparks, a not-for-profit social enterprise. They offer an inexpensive repair service or, if you’re willing to donate the appliances, you can deposit them at one of their 14 bins, knowing they will be repaired and re-homed. For more information see: brightsparksaustralia.com.
If repair attempts fail, at least dispose of appliances appropriately by bringing to a council waste transfer station, where they will be dismantled and recycled appropriately.
Whatever you do, please don’t put appliances in the red-lidded bin. They’ll get dumped directly into landfill where this e-waste becomes a toxic problem. As appliances degrade a potpourri of the chemicals that go into making them will leach into soil and groundwater, affecting our environment and public health.
This brings us to a related issue – what to do with electrical items that are in good working order but no longer wanted? Not long ago a respected community elder phoned and agonised over the dozens of perfectly good sandwich makers, toasters and kettles she’d thrown into landfill on behalf of deceased estates. She’d ditched them because she didn’t realise that some opportunity shops accept appliances in working order. These outlets include the Salvation Army Family Stores in Wodonga and Lavington and Recovery Game at Wodonga Transfer Station. They test and tag electrical appliances, then sell them through their stores. It’s worth noting these shops and spreading the word.