Repairing Society

Repair and Reuse

A throwaway society, that’s how Wai Chu Cheng sees much of our world. Her mission? To repair it, piece by piece, year by year, community by community.

In 2009 Wai saw a Repair Café in Amsterdam. Repair versus replace cultures have existed there and in places like Cuba for decades.

For close to ten years Wai has been running Repair Cafes in the Greater Toronto Area. As each year passes, her passion grows. She’s hoping it’s infectious and will convince others to contribute to a growing circular economy.

Wai says it all starts with early education.

A Look Inside a Repair Cafe

Repair Café Toronto is a volunteer group that organizes events. It's a place where volunteers repair and help others learn how to repair.

The events often take place in local community centres, public libraries and other community-based organizations.

Here’s a look into the history of the Repair Café and how far it’s come.


Fix vs Replace

Wai Chu Cheng is the proud co-founder Repair Café Toronto. She wants people to listen very carefully to her message. In fact, she’d like to scream it from the rooftops… STOP WASTING!

She has a challenge she wants you to accept. The next time you go to throw something away, she wants you to think about it, seriously.
She wants you to say to yourself: could I reuse, recycle, repair, remanufacture, share?

This long-time environmentalist has a burning desire to teach you how to repair something versus buying new. Heather Posgate says, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Wai Chu Cheng, Founder of Repair Café Toronto

From Seneca to Artevelde


Let’s head to Belgium to see how local initiatives, an ocean apart, are contributing to a global circular economy by designing out waste, repurposing or regenerating.

The Story of The Klusserette

Staf Cauwaerts runs, with a small group of volunteers, the neighbourhood workshop de “Klusserette.” It’s where everything revolves around repairing and borrowing.

Their philosophy is to share, repair, experiment and make materials while bringing people together. It is a social project with a sustainable touch.

Everybody’s welcome. They work on several projects at a time. Repairing digital devices is their main focus. Handymen and gardening equipment are free of charge.

It’s called The Repair Café and it’s only offered every four years. In addition, they give courses, which range from how to make a hole in the wall to how to use a particular machine.

They really start from the bottom line. In this way, they contribute to the circular economy.

The Life of Staf Cannaerts

Staf Cannaerts heads a community support lending service called Klusserette. It’s a nurturing place where locals can share and repair their cherished possessions.

He says he grew up in a left-winged family, a green nest… to use his words. In his younger years, he started a skiffle band with friends. Skiffle is a music genre from New Orleans. It combines folk and blues music.

Staf studied civil engineering and wrote his thesis about building biology. Even though he found it interesting, he was more interested in the social aspect of building and design. He wanted to help people in the eco-friendliest way possible.

He figured he could help the most in places struck by disaster. If an area were demolished, he would have a fresh canvas to create. After travelling the world, Belgium beckoned.

Now 70, he’s sharing his masterful talents, teaching members of his local community, in Ghent-Dampoort, how to create by rebuilding, recycling and repairing.

His inspiration? The birth of his granddaughter. Staf says his mission in life is to make the world a better place for her to grow up in.

Father Nature

If Philippe Eiselein had a nickname, it would be Mr. Sustainability! He’s a senior researcher at Odisee University of Applied Sciences. He’s also part of the scientific Research Centre for Sustainable Entrepreneurship.

Eiselein creates sustainability projects for a circular economy. Add to that list, Coordinator of Belgium Impact which focuses on the Belgian social entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Eiselein could also be called Father Nature. His favourite topic? Initiatives such as Klusserette. To find out more, listen to this podcast!

Philippe Eiselein, Senior Reseacher Odisee University

Meet the Team

Chantel Colwill

Seneca College
Producer: Repair and Reuse

Eriane Christie

Seneca College
Producer: A Look Inside a Repair Cafe

Daxnie Desmoulin

Seneca College
Producer: Fix vs Replace

Milan Claeys

Artevelde University
Producer: The Story of The Klusserette

Hanne van Mourik

Artevelde University
Producer: The Life of Staf Cannaerts

Gilles Baeten

Artevelde University
Producer: Father Nature

Chloë van Orden

Artevelde University
Producer: The Story of Klusserette

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