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Save your wallet - and the planet

When something breaks, and we can't fix it, we often just throw the item out and buy a replacement - and fuel the culture of waste in the process.

Photograph: Michaela Medveďová

Text: Michaela Medveďová

In Odense and several other cities in Denmark - you can get help from the friendly neighbourhood volunteers at Repair Café Odense (RCO), a not-for-profit organisation with a goal of a positive environmental, social, and economic impact.

Founded in 2016 as the first Repair Café in Denmark, RCO was started by Keshav Parajuly, an environmental engineer researching electronic waste. With his assistants, they analysed the waste from the municipality and found that almost 20% of discarded electronics still worked. To actively combat this situation outside of academia, Keshav organised the first RCO event in 2017.

“People can simply walk in with their broken objects -nowadays, it is mostly electronics, but it can also be clothes or bikes.”

RCO is open on the last Sunday of every month on Byens Ø in the Odense Harbour. People can simply walk in with their broken objects - nowadays, it is mostly electronics, but it can also be clothes or bikes. Volunteers try to fix them or provide the necessary tools to those who have the skills.

Right now, RCO has about 10 to 15 volunteers. They don't need any specific skills, just the will to learn from others. "Many just came here to fix their bikes. We have some very skilled volunteers who taught them how - and the people stayed as new volunteers," says Alain Kovacs, RCO foreman.

Besides volunteering, donations – you can also donate tools. RCO built up their impressive tools supply from donations, personal collections from volunteers, or grants they applied for over the years. If the volunteers cannot fix an object, they still save working parts that can be reused.

The team is currently looking for volunteers. "It's important to connect your beliefs and actions. It takes a bit more commitment to sacrifice your Sunday without financial reward. But I would encourage people to connect what they think about the future - and what they are doing now to try to make it better," concludes Dylan Cawthorne, RCO board member.

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