Ahead by a century

By Vivian Collings

Although what we see outside our windows right now is similar to looking through a monochromatic filter, Haliburton’s recently been going green in another way.

We have some really refreshing environmental initiatives happening right now; ones that make the act of being conscious of what we consume enjoyable.

We’ve all been told countless times to reduce, reuse, and recycle, (at elementary school, we had a song about the 3 Rs play through the PA system once a week), but SIRCH is adding another important R to the list: repair.

I attended SIRCH’s Repair Cafe last weekend to volunteer and see how it was run. This was their first one post-COVID-19 pandemic.

I missed the launch in 2020. Their second and last cafe due to the pandemic welcomed almost 100 people eager to have something of theirs fixed before throwing it away.

I had heard really amazing things about the energy in the room during this initiative, but as a visual learner, I was eager to experience it first hand. 

When I walked in SIRCH’s Bistro the morning of the Repair Cafe, I definitely wasn’t disappointed. 

Nineteen enthusiastic volunteers welcomed over 60 guests within just a few hours.

These guests brought in items like unusable vacuum cleaners, lamps that wouldn’t turn on, figurines in pieces, textiles in need of mending, and much more.

There were multiple “fixer” stations set up, each equipped with a bell to be run when an item was fixed.

Every time a bell rang, everyone in the Bistro would clap and cheer; celebrating another item being diverted from the landfill and to congratulate the “fixer” for a successful repair.

I really love this model of repairing for many reasons.

Sure, we could easily drop our broken items off to our handy neighbour to fix for us and pick up later, but this model encourages connection.

Each guest had an active role in the repairing of their item.

They would sit down with their fixer to help when needed, understand why their item wasn’t working, and in some cases even learn how to fix it themselves in the future.

Even if an item couldn’t be fixed at the end of the day, guests could feel better about discarding it, knowing they tried everything they could to fix it. 

And the energy there was nothing like what I had imagined. 

Everyone was beyond happy to be there. 

Repair Cafes actually originated in Europe less than 20 years ago. They aren’t very common in Ontario yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they become a mainstream initiative within the next couple of decades.

I think they should be a regular, essential part of every community.

We should all be celebrating each others successes just like that, and the “reuse” part of the three Rs should include fixable items that are broken. 

Around the same time that SIRCH brought this initiative back, the Municipality of Dysart launched a new Waste Sorting Game.

“The game is a fun way to encourage everyone to recycle right, which in turn makes our waste management programs more effective by capturing correct items for recycling, decreasing contamination, and reducing costs,” said John Watson, Dysart’s environmental manager.

These programs are making sustainability fun, just as it should be. With programs like this, Haliburton is setting a great example for other communities, which makes me really proud to live here.