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HomeNewsEnvironmentThe ‘Festival of Repair’ proposes a different approach to sustainability

The ‘Festival of Repair’ proposes a different approach to sustainability

Environmental charity Bower has launched a repair festival, sponsored by the City of Sydney, to promote sustainable habits in the community and usher in what it hopes will be a repair revolution.

The two-week-long event, called the “Festival of Repair”, is taking place at 107 Projects, Redfern.

People from all walks of life – from DIYers and seasoned professionals, to businesses and local organisations – are expected to take part in a range of activities and information sessions, sharing skills and knowledge.

“We live in a very waste-intensive society, and Bower is trying to promote the circular economy, to have fewer items go to landfill, produce less waste, reuse items more often, and repair items,” said Bower General Manager, Michelle Sheather, speaking at the festival’s opening night on August 9.

“The festival is an opportunity to get into repairing our own clothes, bikes, furniture, electronic goods, even musical instruments instead of throwing them away and buy new ones.”

Accordingly, the festival’s agenda featured activities like repair and sustainable art workshops, market days, talks ranging from power tool safety to the impacts of fast fashion, and an Antiques Roadshow-style appraisal session on August 19.

Scarlett, 24, who attended the event’s opening night with her mother said she always had an interest in recycling and repairing, but hoped others would catch on, too.

“I’ve always been quite hands-on, I’ve been taught at an early age how to repair a lot of things, but it’s great to get the rest of the community involved in learning how to repair things,” she said.

“I’m still sewing my boyfriend’s shirt buttons on for him, and it would be better if more people get involved,” she said.

By empowering locals with basic repair skills so that their broken household items could be fixed instead of thrown out into landfill, Ms Sheather said she hoped to foster a cultural change and ultimately a “repair revolution” in Australia.

“A reluctance to repair things can come from a lack of knowledge. Some of it is just not knowing where to start. And some of it is not making the time to do it as well,” she said.

“We would like this festival to be annual and for it to become a real event on the calendars,” she said. “This is the first festival of repair in Australia, and I think it’s the first repair festival in the Southern Hemisphere!”

The festival is the latest of Bower’s efforts to encourage sustainable habits and reduce waste. The Marrickville-based charity, founded in 1997, regularly resells upcycled donated household goods and building materials.

In 2014, Bower started running a community “Repair Café” where locals could bring broken items to be fixed for free. In the same year, it caught the attention of the City of Sydney, and it has since received over $155,000 in grants from the council.

Councillor Adam Worling recognised the amount of waste the City of Sydney’s residents, businesses, and visitors produced and said it was important to support sustainable initiatives both on a policy and personal level.

“I could talk about waste forever. What I love about this festival is that it’s the start of systemic change that we need in behavioural issues when it comes to consumption,” he said.

The need for more sustainability initiatives to reduce waste is clear. Between 2015 and 2020, total waste generated in NSW rose by 17 per cent to 21.9 million tonnes. The City of Sydney’s council area is responsible for producing over 5,500 tonnes of waste every day, contributing to approximately 8 per cent of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2017, Lord Mayor Clover Moore pledged to achieve zero waste by 2030 through strategies including sustainable design, improving recycling outcomes and waste management services.

Mr Worling said progress was on the right track. “We do keep bringing our targets forward because we are getting there a little bit faster,” he added.

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Festival of Repair is on until August 20, 2023, at 107 Projects, 107 Redfern Street, Redfern

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