From the do-it-yourself cottage-maker of state socialism to the DIY printing presses of the samizdat generation, life hacks, quick fixes, and improvisation were once a big a part of Czechoslovak culture.
But according to Jan Charvát, founder of the online repair shop Opravárna, the fix-it spirit is on the wane in the Czech Republic—and he’s looking to change that while encouraging people to fix their stuff instead of tossing it.
“We are concerned that most products from mobile phones to fridges or shoes are often made to break shortly after the warranty period. At the same time, the set economy forces us to buy a new product, even though these products can be repaired. It ends in waste,” says Charvát.
Charvát’s portal, an online community of tinkers, shoe-repairers, and handymen and women, recently completed a successful Hit Hit campaign and will launch an updated website offering the largest network of hobby repair shops and professional service providers in the Czech Republic.
To celebrate, the company is hosting a day full of repair workshops, as well as the chance to bring just about anything in need of fixing to one of their handy professionals; a line up of food, drink, and music will lend to the laid-back mood.
According to a study of the European Parliament, 77% of Europeans prefer to repair a broken product before buying a new one. But Czechs rank low when it comes to having their products repaired: only 56% of respondents said they consider having something fixed. In Portugal, for instance, that number is 92%.
Socially responsible business is having a moment in the Czech capital—including lending libraries that encourage consumers to borrow what they need instead of buying, packaging-free stores, and furniture upcycling venues—and the mission at Opravárna is similar.
“We contribute to the sustainable development and protection of the environment. Do not buy new products unnecessarily, save nature and support the local economy,” Charvát says.
Currently, Opravárna has some 900 repairers and service providers whose skills range from everything to mobiles to musical instruments registered in the Czech Republic. Site users pay a small fee to receive a list of the nearest repairers and service providers.
If the repair is not successful, the customer gets another order for free or receives a refund (55 percent of items are successfully repaired).
The Opravme Česko 2018 festival takes place Saturday, September 15 at Kampus Hybernska and is also sponsored by the Institute for Circular Economy. Admission is voluntary and visitors may bring a number of items (PCs, laptops, toaster, mixers, and even older appliances such as record players) for both repair and recycle.
Visit the Facebook event page for more details.