Community Repair: Repair Cafés and Restart Project

Repair Cafés

The Repair Café, started by Martine Postma in 2007 in Amsterdam strives for sustainability at a local level in many ways.  After the first Repair Café event in October 2009, it has grown to over 2200 community groups world-wide. Many repair cafés are also connected to the Restart Project.

Restart Project

The Restart Project is a London-based community, founded by Janet Gunter and Ugo Vallauri in 2013, that helps people learn how to repair their broken electronics, and rethink how they consume them in the first place. They collect data on repairs from repair events and use the data and stories to help demand better, more sustainable electronics for all. They also work with other groups to campaign for the right to repair.

The Right to Repair is a global movement to make sure everyone has the right to fix the products they own. It aims to change regulations on how these things are made in the first place, to make them easy and affordable to repair, as well as to expand our rights after purchase

I began working collaboratively with the Restart Project in June 2018, following a chance meeting.  Since then, I’ve photographed dozens of repair events, FixFest and social events.


Both Repair Cafés and Restart provide free repairs through volunteer experts. Both aim to involve the customer in the repair to help build awareness and capability.

From observing many repair events and repairs it appears to be that many problems are simply due to poor maintenance.  For example, by not cleaning the filters of a PC can result in the inlet cooling air being reduced and then components overheat and get damaged, similarly many household appliances turn up damaged because they were not regularly cleaned and have now become damaged. We can all make small and simple changes to how we look after our gadgets, that will help prolong life and improve sustainability.

In the UK, the Community Repair Network work to strengthen and support the grassroots repair community repair through knowledge share, connecting groups and championing repair.

There are many opportunities to create local repair communities across the world.  Each instance can help us take a step to increase repair, increase reuse and reduce our negative impact. As we do, we also build capability in individuals and the wider community.


Right to Repair Europe