COTTAGE GROVE — A stuck zipper. A busted chair. The broken toaster from your wedding shower. Just because these items need a little extra love, doesn’t mean they are ready to be tossed just yet.
The ToolBox Project, Eugene’s tool lending library, and its partners are hosting Fix-It Fairs — events that invite community members to get items repaired at no cost.
The next Fix-It Fair will be making its Cottage Grove debut on July 22 at the South Valley Farmers Market at 709 E. Main St. from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
At the fair, participants can bring in a variety of household items that need repairing to be fixed, and volunteer fixers will show them how to extend the lifespan of their items.
That could mean a lamp or a garden fork, or maybe even your dog’s Halloween costume.
In a culture that is centered around consumerism, events like this help people to rethink how they consume, said Daniel Hiestand, Waste Reduction outreach coordinator for Lane County Public Works. Lane County contracted with the Toolbox Project to coordinate the three rural Fix-It Fairs for 2023, using a $10,000 grant used to find repair volunteers, event volunteers, and generally fund the events.
“In Western culture, we’re used to buying stuff and we’ve been trained to consume … but you don’t always need to buy something new, you can take care of what you have,” Hiestand said.
These types of events boast positive results, with over 600 community members having been assisted and about 70% of items brought to these events having been repaired. To date, these fairs have kept over 3,000 pounds of junk out of the landfill.
Repairing and reusing items is one way that community members can reduce emissions and waste on an individual level. It’s also a great way to save money.
“It’s far cheaper to come to an event and have your lamp repaired for free than even buying one used,” said Willa Bauman, Fix-It Fair coordinator. “And sometimes we have participants that come in who are experiencing homelessness, and these repairs have a very life-changing impact.”
This is the first time the fair is coming to Cottage Grove.
“We’re really excited to welcome them and to offer the community the opportunity to repair some of their goods and keep them out of the landfill,”said Tassia Fahsbender, market operations manager for the South Valley Farmers Market, said.
The South Valley Farmers Market offers the community access to fresh food and locally handcrafted goods. It’s the first time they have offered anything like this.
“Part of the market values is regenerative agriculture and building stronger local businesses… so it seemed like a natural fit,” Fahsbender said.
Bauman is focused on reaching and educating more rural communities that are often overshadowed by bigger cities in their region.
“It’s really just about accessibility,” Bauman said.
So far, five large Fix-it Fairs have been hosted, including a Spanish language Fix-it event and smaller-scale Fix-it workshops. Organizers are also interested in expanding Spanish-language repair fairs for the future.
One of the most common items that Bauman has witnessed are broken zippers and lamp repairs. But she also has noticed a lot of participants came to repair meaningful items that they weren’t ready to let go of just yet.
“My favorite story is someone who brought in some wind chimes that were all tangled and bent. They had been on the porch where she first met her husband 50 years before. He had recently died and she wanted to have them repaired. It was a really special connection with the fixer, and they ended up in tears and hugging each other,” said Bauman. `
The Fix-It Fair needs volunteers. To get involved, contact [email protected]
More info: fixitlanecounty.com