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May 29, 2023

Revolutionary repair cafés transform Adelaide’s throwaway culture

Adelaide repair cafés are putting throwaway culture in the bin, creating a space where knowledgeable craftspeople can share skills with those who want to live a less disposable life.

  • Words: Maeve Marryat
  • Main image: Courtesy City of Unley

In a world driven by consumerism and disposable goods, a trend is sweeping across Adelaide, leaving a trail of repaired items and empowered individuals in its wake.

Repair cafés, the eco-friendly havens for broken household items, have cropped up in Unley, Payneham, Campbelltown, Marino and Aberfoyle Park, breathing new life into discarded possessions and fostering a sense of community.


Unley Repair Cafe
Clarence Park Community Centre
72/74 East Avenue, Black Forest 5035

Unley Repair Cafe operates 9:30am ’til 12:30pm every last Saturday of the month.


Rose Dunn, the passionate leader behind the Unley Repair Cafe, says the idea behind the spaces is to repair everyday objects, rather than buying new ones and tossing old ones out.

“At the Repair Cafe, visitors bring along a broken household item and are introduced to a local volunteer who will assist them in learning so that they can collaboratively repair the item over a cuppa,” she says.

Found around the world, the local volunteer-run initiatives are championed by Sustainable Communities SA, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainability for the past 15 years.

The repair cafés operate on a specific weekend day each month and boast a diverse range of professionals offering their time and expertise to reduce waste.

With an array of services available, including sewing, darning, needle felting, locksmithing, knife sharpening and electrical repairs, these cafés are becoming a one-stop-shop for reviving cherished possessions. They also repair bicycles, wooden items, jewellery and soft toys.

“Regardless of a successful repair, everyone just loves the skill-sharing experience and we are very fortunate to have always had a large number of keen volunteers,” Rose says.

Beyond practical repairs, the cafés also build a stronger sense of community.

“Our visitors are now more local, which has brought an even more valuable community-building aspect to the events, allowing neighbours from all walks of life to come together,” Rose says.

The ultimate mission extends far beyond the repair of individual items. By reducing the staggering amount of waste that inundates landfills each year, the 13 repair cafés in South Australia aim to combat environmental, social and economic challenges.

“Some repair café operators additionally are making submissions on right-to-repair legislation or contributing data to international databases that can help identify how much the movement is saving from landfill, and which brands are most problematic with planned obsolescence or designs that prevent repairs,” Rose says of the 70 cafés around Australia.

Repair cafés invite everyone to partake in this transformative journey. Whether you bring a broken item for repair, share your expertise, or simply enjoy a cup of tea and a chat, you’re welcome with open arms, Rose says.

The Unley Repair Cafe, in the Clarence Park Community Centre, operates on the last Saturday of each month from 9:30am ’til 12:30 pm.

Alongside repairs and workshops, visitors can indulge in an assortment of delicious baked goods accompanied by tea and coffee.

Other repair cafés can be found here.

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