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Dare to Repair’s BIG Impact on Waste

As current recycling technologies reach their limits of usefulness, reducing, re-using, and repairing the things we consume has become increasingly important to creating sustainable solutions to addressing the global waste stream.  Dare to Repair Cafes are meant to get the WNY community rethinking waste by connecting those with a need (like a broken lamp or toaster on the fritz) to those with the know-how (like a retired engineer or a bike mechanic).

Since 2017, Dare to Repair’s crew of close to a dozen volunteer fixers have worked with over 700 individuals, successfully repaired 319 items, and diverted 2,579 lbs. of potential waste from local landfills.

Imagine the impact we could have on the waste stream if we had repair cafes in every community across the country, said Joe Kurtz, Dare to Repair Coordinator with the Tool Library.

For those unfamiliar with the initiative, the Dare to Repair Café is Buffalo’s take on the global Repair Café movement, which started more than 10 years ago in Amsterdam. Conceived as a way to rethink waste and transform our throw away economy at the local level, the Repair Café model has since spread to more than 50 countries with nearly 47 cafés now active in the US.

At each event, Dare to Repair volunteer “fixers” work side-by-side with attendees to repair their items for free, saving them the cost of replacement and teaching them the necessary skills to make similar repairs in the future. The event is meant to reduce the amount of trash entering the waste stream, pass on traditional repair skills and knowledge, and foster community and sustainability. Interested in becoming a fixer? Sign up to share your skills today!

Originally the brainchild of the City of Buffalo Department of Recycling and the Tool Library, the initiative has grown into a broad-based partnership that includes: University Heights Community Laboratory, Knowledgefire, Preservation Buffalo Niagara, The Foundry, Valu Home Centers, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Friends of Reinstein Woods, UB Sustainability, Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, Say Yes Buffalo/BPS Community Schools, Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP), and the Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries.

Dare to Repair Cafes are all-volunteer events and made possible thanks to funding from United Way of Buffalo & Erie County (Next Gen) and LUSH Cosmetics.

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Written by Darren Cotton

Darren Cotton

Darren Cotton works as Director of Community Development & Planning at the University District Community Development Association (UDCDA). His work primarily focuses on housing rehabilitation, small business development, and community capacity building in the neighborhood's surrounding the University at Buffalo's South Campus. Prior to this, Darren served as an Associate Planner at the UB Regional Institute working on a regional sustainability initiative, the remediation of industrial brownfields, and an overhaul of Buffalo's zoning code. As a graduate student at UB, Darren founded the University Heights Tool Library in response to his experience renting from an absentee landlord. With a Bachelor's Degree in International Studies and Linguistics and a Master's Degree in Urban Planning all from UB, Darren works to bridge the gap between research, policy, and grassroots activism and is a firm believer that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

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