Share and repair

Sharing and repairing possessions are great ways to get people spending less, wasting less and connecting more. From small scale share or repair initiatives among close-knit groups to open community events, you can help people in your community access the things they need for less.

How many of us have bought items we rarely use or only need for a short time? Whether it’s the latest kit to try a new sport or hobby on a whim, or buying tools for a DIY project never to be used again, sharing offers a greener solution.

There are different styles of share initiatives – from online swaps and loans to physical libraries lending a range of items.

Want to help your community get involved?

Try promoting share options, get together with friends or club members to create your own share group, or take inspiration from others to do something bigger for your local area. The easiest way to create your own share group is with friends, family, colleagues or other members of a community club. There are various ways you can pass on information about items you would like to borrow or offer to share – a community notice board, closed (private) Facebook group or email group.

Don’t become a target to thieves. Avoid sharing too much information with people you don’t know or trust. Keep your address private except to people you are happy to share it with.

Share – a library of things

SHARE – a Library of Things in Frome hosts a wide range of items members can borrow for a small charge. SHARE is a partnership project between Frome Town Council, Edventure Frome – school for community enterprise, Cheese and Grain charity and Sustainable Frome. They have learnt a lot in setting up the project and have put together resources and support packages for people who are passionate about starting similar sharing initiatives.

Depending on the interests of your community group and the space available, you may wish to focus on particular types of items. For example

  • toy libraries are great for groups supporting children and young people
  • gardening clubs may be interested in saving money by sharing more expensive tools, like hedge trimmers or shredders
  • hobby and craft clubs share equipment and gadgets to help other enthusiasts

Here are some examples of toy libraries

Wellington Toy Library
CLOWNS Toy Library
Jack in the Box Toy Library sessions, at The Bridge Children’s Centre, Frome
SHARE – a Library of Things has a selection of toys and other items for children.

Go to our Waste Not Somerset page for information about other ways to help your community.

Despite the pressures of a throw-away society, many people are learning and sharing the skills that allow them to make what they need, or do the simple repairs to save money and avoid throwing items away. Repair events are fantastic for bringing people together, sharing skills and offering practical help where the cost of commercial repair is prohibitive.

Many small repairs are easy to do yourself with a bit of know-how. The chances are you can find people in your community with different skills who can help. There is lots of help online too.

If you’re holding a community event, you could print out a few copies of the Repair Revolution handout to give out.

Whether your repair session is a one-off event or a regular event, there are examples to help inspire you.

Repair Cafés

Repair Café started in The Netherlands and it has helped repair go global, with over 1000 Repair Cafés around the world and many UK groups running sessions under the Repair Café branding.

Repair Café has put together useful resources to help more groups get started around the world. We have bought a copy of the ‘Repair Café how to toolkit’, which is available free to Somerset groups on request (terms and conditions apply).

If you would like a copy, please email us quoting “Repair Café toolkit” in the subject line. This does not commit you to running an event.

Repair at Share – weekly repair sessions take place at SHARE – a library of things in Frome on Saturdays. SHARE also has a skills-share notice board for local people to offer or ask for help.

Ad-hoc repair initiatives can pop up as a one-off, irregular or infrequent sessions.

Men’s Sheds is an organisation which provides a place where men feel at home and pursue practical interests, which can often involve repair. Across Somerset and beyond, the number of Men’s Sheds is growing, along with the potential to work with them on repair initiatives. For example, Men’s Shed at the Balsam Centre, Wincanton has worked with a number of local groups by sharing their practical skills fixing and making things.

Find what skills your friends, family or colleagues have – maybe they are great at sewing, keen on woodwork, electronics or fixing computer problems. You could get together for a repair day and share skills.

For group projects, you could set up repair workshops. Repair workshops are a great way to reduce waste by teaching people the skills to repair items. They are a fantastic way to bring people together, share skills, give stuff a new lease of life, and help local people save money. It’s a great opportunity to raise awareness of your group and you can charge an entry fee to raise funds or cover costs.

Click for help – online repair advice

There is a growing online community which supports fixing stuff by sharing free helpful instructions and videos. You can look for advice online at places like:

  • ifixit.com includes a wide range of appliances, gadgets, household items, clothing and musical instruments
  • howtofixyourstuff.com includes computers, electronics, general household and home improvements
  • howifixthings.com for home improvements
  • sugru.com has a wide range of repair guides, as well as craft projects – with a helpful search filter to find what you need
  • instructables.com includes a variety of guides on how to make or repair things, and you can search by category
  • For free bicycle repair videos, tutorials and trouble-shooting, try parktool.com or madegood.org
  • for sewing repairs and tips to make your clothes last longer loveyourclothes.org.uk

Check for courses available – either online learning or at your local colleges – to improve your skills, as well as local interest groups, like sewing clubs.

You can find the information above on our Repair handout