Fix-it clinic makes old stuff new again

By Rachel Zulevi , Central NM Group Zero Waste Team

It happens all too often that when an item becomes damaged, breaks, or otherwise stops serving its purpose: It is banished to the landfill and replaced with a brand-new thing.

The truth is that relatively simple repairs could extend the useful lives of many out-of-commission items, but most of us have no idea how to approach those repairs and don’t have the time to figure it out. So into the trash bin broken things go, and off to Target or Amazon we go for replacements. Communities around the country and globe are addressing this lamentable waste of resources by presenting Fix-It Clinics — pop-up gatherings where folks with broken stuff can get help from folks who know how to fix stuff.

The city of Albuquerque offered its first local Fix-It Clinic at Fuse Maker Space on Nov. 16. Skilled volunteers were available to troubleshoot and repair a wide range of items. As clients walked in toting their things-needing-fixing, friendly and enthusiastic Keep Albuquerque Beautiful staff members offered a warm greeting and asked them to sign in.

While the organizers requested advance registration to help them prepare, walk-ins were welcomed, too. Event staffers escorted new arrivals to the appropriate station, where experts were ready. Stations included: computers/phones, sewing, small appliances, skateboards and bicycles. In my short visit, I saw a DVD player, popcorn air popper and inflatable ball get repaired very quickly, and a ShopVac, electric toothbrush and sewing machine were being examined.

City organizers consulted with the Santa Fe Fix-It Clinic, a quarterly event hosted by Santa Fe County Sustainability Office and MAKE Santa Fe, to learn and adopt best practices right from the start. Within the first hour of the clinic, Solid Waste Department staff were already feeling positive about the response and hopeful that Albuquerque could host a Fix-It Clinic again soon, perhaps even on a regular basis like our neighbor to the north. To express your appreciation and support of this type of city-sponsored service, please reach out to Keep Albuquerque Beautiful, Mayor Tim Keller, and to your City Councilor to congratulate them on the success of the first run and let them know that you want to see more Fix-It Clinics in Albuquerque. This type of program can not only keep useful items out of the landfill, it also empowers and educates community members in the art of repairing versus replacing. If you have a fix-it skill to share, donating a few hours of your time at a future clinic could have a big impact in our community.

Visit Rachel’s Zero Waste Facebook page, WasteLess Life NM.

Feature imaged, Volunteers help fix broken items at Albuquerque’s first fix-it clinic, by Rachel Zulevi

Fix-it clinic makes old stuff new again