Repair instead of replace
Lake Oswego Sustainability Network volunteer Dorothy Atwood felt heartened by the turnout at the first Repair Fair in Lake Oswego last June.
Atwood said the fair attracted a larger attendance (over 75) than any repair fair since Clackamas County cities began putting them on about four years ago. About 1,700 pounds of carbon emissions were preserved, she said — because belongings were being repaired rather than replaced — and 83 items were repaired in total.
Excited about the prospects for future successful repair fairs in Lake Oswego, Atwood and other organizers decided that an event initially planned to occur annually could handle another booking. So while the LOSN will continue to host a repair fair at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center annually, it will also host another fair from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Lake Oswego United Methodist Church (1855 South Shore Blvd.).
"We were swamped with success," Atwood said. "The biggest complaint was that people had to wait in line to check in. Those are good problems to have. We thought about the success and said, 'Let's see if we can do two a year.'"
LOSN puts on the event in collaboration with Clackamas County and the Master Recycler Program. The concept is simple: Attendees bring broken items to the fair, and tinkerers, fixers and handy men and women attempt to mend the items free of charge. Atwood said volunteers fixed or are in the process of fixing about 69 percent of items from the last fair.
"I encourage people to come with an open mind and patience, because these are all volunteers and they all have different skill sets," Atwood said.
Other than saving money, why is it beneficial to repair broken items rather than buy new ones? To Atwood, the answer is sustainability — and she champions the carbon emissions saved at the June event.
"I think it comes back to really thoughtful consumption," she said.
In June, items such as lamps, vacuum cleaners, sewing machines, televisions, electric trimmers and stereos were repaired. Atwood was especially struck by the one-slice toaster that one elderly woman wanted fixed.
"People brought things that you could tell were beloved treasures that they wanted to keep," she said. "Most people were happy and appreciative."
Atwood said organizers have added more volunteers to sign people in — an effort to keep the fair flowing more smoothly — and a professional jewelry business, Trios Studio, will be on hand this time to repair jewelry. However, unlike the June fair, bicycles and knives won't be repaired.
"Last time, we had an amatuer jewelry repairer and they didn't have the tools to repair much of the jewelry," Atwood said. "We should have better success this time."
Atwood also said organizers have contacted Lake Oswego High and Lakeridge High to encourage students to attend the fair and receive repairing instruction from volunteers.
"That's something we hope to include is to get student involvement (and show them) you can fix stuff," Atwood said. "You don't just have to throw it away."
Atwood encouraged community members to attend the fair on Saturday.
"I think it's a wonderful, all-volunteer community event," she said. "The focus of so much of our society is buy-buy-buy consumption, and this is more of, 'Let's make use of what we have.'"
IF YOU GO
What: Repair Fair
When: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12
Where: Lake Oswego United Methodist Church, 1855 South Shore Blvd., Lake Oswego
Note: Volunteers will be on hand to repair small appliances, electronic toys, clothes and jewelry. You can also recycle Styrofoam (#6).
Pre-register your item: Go to http://www.repairfair.org/upcoming-events/jan-12-lake-oswego
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