Repair Café is here to stay


2016 was another successful year for Repair Café. We not only achieved our goals of diverting waste from landfills and teaching people how to repair, we also continued to expand a repair community of volunteers and supporters who share our values and believe in our work. We have shown continuous growth since our launch in 2013. As a volunteer organization, we now offer unique repair service to neighborhoods all across Toronto. We have established a strong foundation in the city.

Below are two photos from our last monthly café this year. It was held at S. Walter Stewart branch of the Toronto Public Library on Saturday, November 19. It was our 40th café to date.

Our next café will be held at the Toronto Reference Library on January 21. For details, please click here.

20161119_140735Photograph by Julie Trinh


In this short video, Robert, one of our experienced volunteers who manages the lengthening lineups at the registration desk, shares his insights about our growth.

Video by Lon Appleby

Our goal in 2016 was to continue reaching out to different communities in Toronto. This year, we covered neighbourhoods from Scarborough and East York in the east to Rexdale in the west as well as the downtown core and Parkdale in the south. The locations of the monthly cafés along with a few of the smaller café events are shown in the map below.

2016-event-mapMap created by Dave Stokes

Our accomplishments this year:

Events & Stats

  • established a team of more than 80 active volunteers
  • offered 11 large repair cafés in collaboration with six branches of the Toronto Public Library, four community organizations (including Ralph Thornton Centre, Central Neighbourhood House, Driftwood Community Centre, and Skills for Change) as well as Steamlabs downtown
  • taught 966 visitors to repair their broken items
  • fixed 877 items and diverted a total of 1,005 items from going to landfill (a total of 3,079 items diverted since 2013)
  • held 15 smaller events at various locations, including promotion booths at Toronto Community Environment Days, Repair Café at the University of Toronto’s Hart House, volunteer appreciation events, etc.
  • provided four repair workshops in various public library locations
  • supported two Repair Café events hosted by Sheridan College

Photograph by Julie Trinh

Improvements & Innovations

lego_by-timLego model built by Tim Murphy

Communications and Media Coverage

  • covered by various media, including CBC Radio show “The Current” and the UP Express Magazine
  • shared the learning experiences from our visitors and the repair tips from our fixers through the Video page on our website.
  • enhanced our website with additional features and information for new volunteers
  • provided our news and the latest developments on the global repair movement and the circular economy through Facebook and Twitter
  • invited by Volunteer Toronto to nominate one of our volunteers to be featured on their website

Friendship Bench at Driftwood Community Centre – Photograph by Lon Appleby

The Repair Café Organizing Team would like to express our sincere thanks to all our volunteers. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve so much without your remarkable dedication and commitment. To our community partners, Toronto Public Library, Ralph Thornton Centre, Central Neighbourhood House, Driftwood Community Centre and Skills for Change, a big thanks to your continued support. Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to LUSH Cosmetics for your generous donations.

Our 2017 event calendar is already filling up. This year, we will…

  • continue providing 11 large monthly cafés and a number of smaller cafés while offering multiple events in certain locations (e.g. a repair cafe followed by a trouble-shooting workshop)
  • continue promoting education as one of our principal objectives, i.e., teach people how to do repairs themselves
  • encourage more young people to volunteer for the Repair Café
  • support other groups to start a repair café for their local community
  • refresh the website with improved features so that it will be more engaging and help streamline our process
  • look for a storage space and a trailer for our increasing amount of equipment and supplies for events
  • seek funding support for further expansion of the Repair Café initiative
  • explore collaborative opportunities with local and international repair communities

For the first event in 2017, we will be returning to Toronto Reference Library on January 21. For details, please click here. We hope to see you at the Repair Café there.

We wish you a waste-free 2017!