Huge numbers of clothes and electronics get thrown away every year, despite only having minimal damage. Disposable fashion and cheap appliances make it appealing to simply buy again, but it’s better for the environment and for your wallet to repair.
You might worry that you lack the technical ability to fix things yourself, but thanks to a growing network of repairers who are teaching people repairing skills, you can learn something new and make your items last longer.
People are spreading their knowledge about repairing via online platforms, repairs directories, and in-person workshops, for free or for little cost.
And there’s increasing awareness about the benefits of fixing things, such as how it can help you to slow down, reduce waste to landfill and use less energy and resources.
We’ve put together a list of places where you can get broken things repaired at a low cost.
Visit your local Repair Café to find materials and tools you need to help you mend things, as well as expert volunteers with repair skills in many fields, including electronic items. There are almost 1,700 repair cafés in England. The service is free, but a donation is welcomed.
The Repair Café International Foundation is a global charity which provides support to individuals and companies who want to set up a local repair café.
Repair Café founder Martine Postma said to Habinteg: “People are seeing that throwing away without repairing and buying new causes a lot of problems and needs to be changed into something more sustainable.
“This has become more urgent since the recent cost of living crisis, which has focused the attention more positively on repair. People are realising that repairing is a normal thing to do, and there are still people around who can help me, and who can teach me to do this myself.”
Shoe repair shops can offer additional mending services, such as small darning jobs on clothing or fabric-made accessories as they have the machinery (i.e. sewing machines) and the sewing skills to do so. It may be cheaper to go to your local, independent cobbler rather than a chain – so have a look and see where your nearest cobbler is.
Haberdashery shops, which supply items for dressmaking and sewing, may offer those services, too, as well as the materials to do-it-yourself.
Jewellery and watch shops
Your local jewellery shop should be able to carry out most jewellery and watch repairs, including broken necklace clasps and a smashed glass watch face.
Home appliance repairs services
Home appliances repairs are not cheap, but they can often be much less expensive than buying new, especially when you factor in delivery and installation charges for new ones.
British Gas has a domestic appliance repair service, which includes the typical items such as washing machines and tumbler dryers, that costs from £95. Meanwhile, consumer rights group, Which?, has a useful guide to common washing machine problems and how to fix them.
YouTube has tutorials on how to fix almost anything yourself. Have a look at the channel by Wickes, the home improvement retailer, which has videos showing you how to fix things such as broken drawer fronts. One Army’s tutorials teach you how to make small repairs to your clothes such as darning and patch repairs and how to sew on a button.
London’s Repair Week (18-24 March) website has eye-catching repair hack videos and a directory of places in London which offer repairs for bicycle, electricals, homeware, textiles and much more. Plus, it has a list of in-person workshops where you can get repairs done or learn how to do-it-yourself.