In a push against a "buy-toss-buy" consumer culture, a group of residents in one German city get together once a month to fix broken household items. It's an example of the slowly-growing "hackerspace" movement.
A small group of people in the German city of Wuppenstal represents one of a growing number of “hackerspaces” around the world that are coming together to fix items, such as vacuum cleaners and toasters, that would normally have been tossed out. Interestingly, this particular group isn’t entirely comprised of mechanical people: Some are IT workers, and one is an anesthesiologist. However, once a month they open their repair café — located in a former train station — to the public, and after a recent television appearance, people are lining up in hopes of having their household objects repaired.
What’s the Big Idea?
The hackerspace is a response to a common perception that manufacturers purposely design certain items to break down within an unknown period of time. This “planned obsolescence” forces customers into a continuous consumption cycle, and a recent member of the Wuppenstal group, an electrician known as Didi, says that’s not happening on his watch: “Companies will not get rich with my help…I repair everything on my own at home, even my car.” Margret Meiners came with a broken DVD player that she unscrewed herself; upon revealing her training in bicycle mechanics, she was promptly recruited for a new bike-focused repair café.