As soon as you enter the headquarters of Millor Que Nou (which in Catalan means “Better Than New”), it immediately feels like people in Barcelona are well ahead of the curve when it comes to repairing and skill sharing.
This project started in 2009 and provides three main services: a monthly programme of repair training classes (running every day and covering all kinds of repair skills, from furniture to electronics, from bicycles to clothes); workshops with tools where people can self-repair their products as well as receive advice and troubleshooting from expert technicians – the same technicians who teach at the centre.Perhaps the most interesting feature is that Millor Que Nou combines their educational and hands-on work with the promotion of existing repair businesses: not all repairs can be easily performed by course participants, so it makes sense to promote the availability of all kind of repair businesses in the greater metropolitan area surrounding Barcelona.
While the provision of free classes and tools promotes the concept of repair and makes it possible to give a second life to products which would not be economical to repair commercially, Millor Que Nou is clearly not competing with other professional repairers. They have recently published a printed guide featuring all the repairers after a long work researching existing technicians (available in PDF here).
At a time when councils focus a lot of their attention on the promotion of recycling, we see this approach as not only inspiring, but refreshing and necessary. The reuse of products submitted to “recycle centres” is illegal and problematic in Spain just as much as in the UK – but some local municipalities around Barcelona are starting to test alternative models, where products can be saved from the landfill.
We hope to see this trend expand all over Europe and beyond! We look forward to partnering with Millor Que Nou, hopefully to map and include all the repairers in their guide in our planned online platform. We also hope that the team will consider producing an English version of some of their videos and their publications, especially the one with advice on maintenance to extend the life of fridges and other white goods.
Millor Que Nou is 100% supported by the Barcelona Metropolitan Authority, which is gaining recognition from this investment and ultimately pioneering an increasingly popular approach to waste prevention.
Hopefully other cities and public authorities will follow this example elsewhere, realising that reducing the amount of waste we produce has a lot to do with supporting re-skilling of our communities and the active promotion of a repair culture.