Now here’s a fantastic one-stop-shop for everybody who’s working to shrink their waste, reduce their carbon footprint and live more sustainably. Cambridge Remakery is popping up in the new community space at The Grafton Centre over the weekend of 12 and 13 October and you’ll find plenty of help, advice and free activities here.
A Repair Cafe for electrical items, toys, clothing, bicycles etc.
Hands on workshops for bike maintenance, furniture repair, upholstery and jewellery repair
An upcycling activity with recycling advice and a bird feeder upcycling project for children
A Swish ... bring clothes you don’t wear and swap them for clothes you will wear at this women’s clothes swapping party
A sewing skillshare where you’ll pick up tips and acquire new sewing skills
A craftivism workshop on 13 October with an artist from Kettle’s Yard. Bring along a T shirt, scarf, jumper or bag on which to emblazon your own environmental message
One-to-one advice on living more sustainably from Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Transition Cambridge
Sustainable living stalls from The Nu Wardrobe, a clothes sharing social network, and Full Circle Shop, Cambridge’s own zero waste shop
Remakery projects are now established and flourishing in Brixton and Edinburgh with more in the pipeline for the UK and internationally. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if the Cambridge Remakery became a permanent hub to support us all as we work to live more sustainably??
We’ve all got them … those slightly sorry, broken objects stuffed into the cupboard under the stairs. You think you’ll get round to sorting them out one day. Or if you’re not handy (like us here at New in Cambridge!), you try to find someone who can fix these things then realise that the humongous repair bill means that it probably makes more sense to chuck said objects out and buy new. But for Cambridgeshire dwellers, there is a better way.
The Royston Repair Cafe inspired Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Transition Cambridge to kickstart the Cambridgeshire repair cafe movement about four years ago, to help reduce waste and promote skill sharing in a socially welcoming environment. Fifteen groups now run repair cafes across the county and last year, Cambridge hosted the world’s biggest repair cafe, comfortably smashing the world record for the number of repairs made.
There’s a Cambridge Repair Cafe Plus happening on Saturday 22 September at St. Andrew’s Hall, Chesterton, from 1 – 4pm. It’s a simple system. A whole range of experienced repairers volunteer their time and skills to fix all sorts of items from electricals to jewellery and bikes to books. You either pre-book or just turn up (in which case there might be a short wait) with your object for repair. There is no charge for mending things but donations are always welcome and Cambridge Carbon Footprint is grateful to Mackays and Draper Tools who sponsor and supply the tools used by the repairers. Most things can be fixed but for the 15% of items that can’t, they’ll advise you on recycling and disposal.
You’ll also find a sewing repairs skillshare. Here you can learn basic sewing skills like hemming, darning and sewing on buttons that mean you can make simple repairs yourself in future. And if you’ve got any unfinished sewing or knitting projects hanging around, they’ll help you get to grips with those too.
There’s a draught proofing and repairs workshop with information on how to make your home cosier and cut your bills plus they’ll give you a free draught proofing pack to take away. Perfect now that there’s definitely an autumnal nip in the air!
For the younger generation, there’s going to be a Kids’ Repair Cafe on Friday 26 October from 9.30am- 12.30pm. It’s hosted by the Cambridge Film Festival at Arts Picturehouse and they’ll be screening environmental films including WALL-E through the day. Children can bring consoles, mechanical toys, gaming devices, electronic toys, teddie and dolls. As with all repair cafes, kids and their parent or carer stay with the repairers, using the process as a learning experience and helping to work out the best way to repair the broken toy.
I enjoyed meeting Nicole Barton, Volunteer and Events Organiser at Cambridge Carbon Footprint, to find out more about the repair cafes before writing this post. As she says, we talk about throwing things away but where is “away”? Nicole’s a woman with a lot of amazing statistics at her fingertips but one in particular blew my mind …..
….. if you repair a 13″ Macbook rather than chuck it out and buy a new one, you save the equivalent of 750kg of carbon
Growing Spaces is a wonderful project which creates, plants and maintains edible gardens in the city which can be harvested by anybody …. anybody at all and the food is free!
The Growing Spaces team, run by Sandra Cortijo, plants these gardens in unloved and underused public spaces in Cambridge (having first received permission from the landowner!). There are currently six gardens dotted around the city – you can check out their locations on the website. “Each garden has its own story,” Sandra tells me. “They’re generally not high maintenance but they are regularly checked, so they’re kept healthy and tidy.”
If a volunteer can commit to giving some extra care during a growing season, the group will plant vegetables such as tomatoes, courgettes and beans. If not, they’ll plant herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme alongside fruit bushes.
Growing Spaces gardens for and with the community. Volunteers supply seedlings and nurseries often donate plants while YMCA volunteers build frames for the raised beds. The team installs, fills and plants these tall raised beds on the same day. To make sure that their edible gardens thrive, they have perfected the “lasagna method” of filling the beds with layers of cardboard, branches, hay, paper, soil, dried leaves, grass cuttings and mulch. This creates a nutrient rich permaculture that decomposes over time and needs less watering. You’ll find full details of this “lasagna method” on the Growing Spaces website under the “Resources” tab.
The group organises cycle tours of its gardens, so people can see what’s growing and where. It also has a free gardening club where people of all ages get together to grow their own vegetables and herbs. The team runs a fresh produce swap and share stall at events like the Pumpkin Festival, giving everybody a chance to share their excess allotment or garden produce or just to come and choose some fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs for free.
Growing Spaces is part of Transition Cambridge, an organisation which “aims to help the city make the transition to ways of life that are more resilient in the face of rising energy prices and a changing climate”. A grant from the Council got the Growing Spaces group started and Sandra got involved in 2013. Growing up, Sandra had always gardened with her mother and grandparents at home in France but had then stopped. “I relearned gardening with this group,” Sandra says “and really, no knowledge is necessary. We try things out and see what works best.”
If you’d like to volunteer to plan and plant with the team or if you know of a space in the city that needs care, just email Sandra through the Growing Spaces website.