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Restart Podcast Ep. 87: Exploring Brighton’s repair and reuse ecosystem

Repair event

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This month, we take a deep-dive into a local repair and reuse ecosystem. Brighton seemed like a great case study for this so we spoke to Victoria Jackson and Sam Jarman from Brighton Repair Café and Dr David Greenfield from Tech-Takeback, two of the amazing projects working together to reduce waste in the city. 

A decade of repair with Brighton Repair Café

Brighton Repair Café is one of the longest-running repair cafés in the UK, holding their first event all the way back in 2013. Victoria and Sam were both studying sustainable design at the time and were interested in the journeys that we take with our things, from their design inception, to when they break, to how we can reconnect through repair. They were inspired by the Dutch repair café model to hold their first repair session and since then, have been steadily running events around the city. They’ve also served as inspiration for more repair cafés popping up in Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area, and are part of the Community Repair Network. 

Victoria and Sam share what they have learned from running repair events for so long, from de-gendering repair to making sure that its a fun and rewarding activity. They believe that repair is so rewarding that once someone has a positive experience, that’s all they need for it to snowball into something bigger.

“It is quite experiential. So as soon as someone experiences that opportunity, we don’t have to do too much work in that respect because they understand how good they feel when they fix that object with the support of somebody else. They also understand how important those communities are.”

It’s their hope that in the future, repair will become so popular that there will be a repair cafe in every town, university, and school. They believe that the knock-on effect of teaching young people about repair would be huge, especially with how many skills have been lost over recent decades. And they’ve already started this mission, working with a local university to set up a student-led repair café. 

Brighton Repair Cafe
Repairing at Brighton Repair Café [Photo courtesy of Brighton Repair Café]

Give and take with Tech-Takeback

We then talk to David from Tech-Takeback, who were recent collaborators with Brighton Repair Café as part of Brighton council’s Circular Saturday scheme. Tech-Takeback began in 2016 as pop-up events in Brighton and London, expanding in 2020 into the organisation that they are now. They run RevaluElectricals, collecting unwanted and broken electrical devices from Brighton residents to hopefully give them a new life. David gives as a breakdown of some of their data including, the most collected devices and the massive amount of e-waste that has been saved since they started. 25,000 items have already gone on to have a second life!

He explains their processes for reusing tech, it’s an elaborate process but worth it. Much of the collected items end up going to charities, being sold in the Revaluit shop, or being given away on Freegle. And while some items do end up being recycled, they are first stripped for useful parts and materials.

“We need the government to start thinking about the metrics for reuse. Everything at the moment is focused on recycling…above recycling, we should be having refurbishment, repair, remanufacturing, reuse, and we should be having prevention.”

Not only do Tech-Takeback reduce e-waste and provide affordable tech to those who need it, the data that they have gathered during their work has been incredibly informative for our own research and for the larger repair ecosystem. 

Repair event at Tech-Takeback
Repair event at Tech-Takeback [Photo courtesy of Tech-Takeback]
Brighton Repair Café and Tech-Takeback, are examples of projects that we need to have in every part of the UK. These aspirations though, need a lot of support, especially from the government and local councils. All of our guests agree that not enough is currently being done, pointing to Wales as an example of a truly bolstered repair culture. We hope to use the connections built and data collected by projects like these to inform our work and campaign for Right to Repair across the whole of the UK – and the world. 


[Feature image by Mark A Phillips, licensed under CC BY 4.0.]


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