Written by David Hill
Is your smartphone charger cord frayed? Perhaps you lost a button on your favorite shirt. Or maybe your favorite necklace needs fixing. All of these needs — and more — can be taken care of during a repair and reuse fair happening next week at the University at Buffalo.
The repair fair is being hosted by UB’s Office of Sustainability as part of the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) Points of Intervention campus tour, which is visiting 12 other universities across the country this spring.
The event will take place inside the Student Union lobby from noon to 3 p.m. Monday, March 12. It is open to all UB faculty, staff and students, as well as the public. A panel discussion will follow from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Student Union Theater. Panelists will discuss the various points of intervention in the linear consumption economy, such as extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal.
Community members can park in the Center for Tomorrow lot. Vans provided by the UB Student Association will then take people directly to the Student Union. More information is available on the UB Sustainability website.
Not just a waste event
PLAN’s Points of Intervention tour aims to highlight the individuals and organizations that are challenging the linear consumption model and instead working toward a circular model that favors renewable energy and the elimination of waste.
“This isn’t just a waste event, but one of the key points we hope to drive home is the importance of reusing things and not just throwing them away when they’re broken,” said Stephanie Acquario, a senior and assistant director of environmental affairs for the UB Student Association, who is helping coordinate the event. “A lot of people don’t know how to fix things. It’s like the item disappears when they throw it away, but it still exists, and it ends up in a landfill.”
During the repair fair, volunteer fixers will staff a variety of fixing stations and will do their best to get the item back to working order. It should be noted that repairs are not guaranteed and all participants will be required to sign a waiver.
Stations will be set up for repairs to bicycles, small appliances and electronics (such as lamps and vacuums) and textiles, as well as general repairs for items like furniture, tools and wood products.
- The UB Car Club will have a vehicle on site to show participants how to perform common repairs, such as changing windshield wiper blades, filling tires with air and how to properly use jumper cables. Car repairs were the most-requested item among students, according to Acquario.
- Brian Gavigan, a cobbler and owner of Sole Man on Elmwood Avenue, will provide information on how to select and care for leather goods like shoes and handbags to ensure they last as long as possible.
- The UB Student Association Production team will offer tips on properly rolling wires and caring for electronics.
- The UB Environmental Network will set up a swap shop featuring ethical fashion choices, and will show fair attendees how to use common household items to make DIY soaps, masks and scrubs.
- The University Heights Tool Library will demonstrate how to use a variety of small tools, and how members of the public can use the Tool Library as a resource for projects of all sizes.
Info tables, samples galore
The best part about the event, organizers say, is that attendees can watch and ask questions as their item is repaired, so that the next time it needs fixing, they’ll know how to do it.
But the repair fair isn’t just for folks who need something fixed, Acquario says, pointing out there will be lots of informational tables to check out, and samples to try, from PLAN corporate sponsors and non-profit organizations.
They include Lush, the handmade cosmetics retailer that has a store in the Walden Galleria Mall; Guayaki, which makes fair trade organic teas; and Klean Kanteen, which introduced the first stainless steel, BPA-free, reusable water bottle in 2004. PLAN will also have a DIY sewing kit table and, just for fun, a photo booth.
UB Sustainability has wanted to host a repair café for the past few years now. “There has been this movement around the country with repair cafes. We wanted to connect what we do here at UB with the larger community effort,” said Erin Moscati, sustainability education manager for UB Sustainability.
Campus sponsors for the event include the Office of Sustainability, Student Association and Campus Living. Other partners are the City of Buffalo Recycling Department and the University Heights Tool Library, which recently partnered on a few repair cafes.
Event wraps up with speakers series
After the repair fair, four speakers will give short, TED Talk-style presentations in the Student Union Theater. Presenters include:
- Eryn Wise, who lives on occupied Dakota territory in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, as a guest from the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Laguna Pueblo people. She is the Ina or “mother” of sorts for the International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC), working with the group to build leadership across Turtle Island.
- Amira Odeh-Quinones, whose work in a campaign titled “No Más Botellas” at the University of Puerto Rico was successful in making one of their campuses the first Latin American university to ban the sale of bottled water.
- Evan Zachary, coordinator at the Center for Residence Life FoodShare Center at Rochester Institute of Technology, who will speak about point-of-resource diversion.
- Melissa Miles, environmental justice organizer with the Ironbound Community Corporation, located in the East Ward of Newark, N.J. Miles’ time in Brazil inspired her to make her home in the largely Portuguese speaking Ironbound neighborhood of Newark. After her then 1-year old son was diagnosed with asthma in 2013, she discovered that air pollution was linked to many cases of childhood asthma in Newark. Following this toxic trail, she learned of the legacy of environmental degradation in Ironbound, which ultimately led her to activism.