Training the reflex to repair

By Christian BlockLaurent Sturm Switch to German for original article

While the mountain of electronic waste continues to grow, repair initiatives are multiplying in the country. No fewer than 72 repair cafés were organised last year. An on-site interview with Jean Reichert, member of the committee of the Repair Café Luxembourg association.

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As soon as the Repair Café opens, the first people are already queuing up. A clothes horse with a faulty knee, a CD player with a blocked drive, a toaster from the 1950s that its owner swears by because it serves its purpose particularly quickly: people brought these and other everyday items to the Capellen cultural centre on 13 January in the hope of getting them back in working order. Because it would be a shame to have to dispose of them, some visitors told the Journal on site.

One woman brought her hoover, which no longer vacuums properly. Her family had always placed great importance on repairing things. Her father always helped her, she says. But because he now lives far away and she is stuck, she turned to the Repair Café for help. On this afternoon, 13 volunteers with different profiles, plenty of tools and all kinds of aids were ready to help visitors with their concerns.

Repair Café Lëtzebuerg has set itself the goal of using expertise and dexterity to question the reflex to throw away and buy new items in order to save resources. We met Jean Reichert in Capellen. He sits on the committee of the non-profit association and coordinated the event, which was organised by the environmental commission of the municipality of Mamer.

Lëtzebuerger Journal: Jean Reichert, what is your professional background?

Jean Reichert: As an engineer, I've worked in industry all my life, both in mechanical engineering and in automation technology. I had less to do with the things that people bring to the Repair Café.

As a "kniwwler" (a tinkerer, e.d.) yourself, can you tear down a device to identify the problem and repair it?

You could call me a "kniwwler" because, on the one hand, it's not my main job and, on the other hand, you sometimes have to "kniwwel" to gain access to the devices, especially if they are so protected that nobody can get at them. There are also products that are not intended to be repaired and have to be disposed of. We are working against this.

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