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Repair cafés across the country help communities fix electronic and other times for free

Tucson Repair Cafe volunteer
Posted at 10:21 AM, Apr 13, 2022

TUCSON, Ariz. — A group in Arizona is taking in old broken-down items and giving them, a new life and they’re doing it for free. Tucson Repair Café co-founder Rocky Baier says the project was started last November and it's been going strong ever since.

"I was a journalism student, and I had a lot of climate anxiety and that led me to start getting involved with Sustainable Tucson. When we started, we only had about five people. Now at the events, we have 30 people,” Baier said.

Baier says her education and work with Sustainable Tucson gave her the drive to make it happen. Meanwhile, there are thousands of repair cafés all around the world and now it's the first of its kind in Tucson.

"The goal is to give people a free place to have their items repaired and the goal is to reduce waste, reduce consumption, and stop the consumption of buying something having it break and throwing it away and buying something new," Baier said.

Electronics, clothing and furniture — you name it and teams work together to try to fix what you bring. The group is focused on helping people save money while saving the environment at the same time. Volunteers and visitors set up shop and do the work. So far, about 100 people have had repairs done.

“One of my favorite parts is that it's of community and its fun and you can meet people and talk to people,” Baier said.

Tucson Repair Café is currently working to get nonprofit status.

They do warn that not everything can be fixed.

"We will always try to repair an item, but sometimes we can’t repair items. Some things, they have things that are dangerous. Sometimes people bring in items that are locked behind proprietary software, hardware and those companies don’t like to share how they make their products,” Baier said.

Right now, there are 15 volunteers who donate their time, and more are always needed to help plan events and do repairs.

"For me, it’s really satisfying because I’m always looking at ways to save the environment,” Baier said.

This story was first reported by Shawndrea Thomas at KGUN in Tucson, Ariz.