Gillian Walker and Jo-Anne Derby both lean over a work station at the Saskatoon Makerspace, trying to figure out how to fix a lamp shaped like a duck head.

"I bought it a long time ago when I first got a job at some sort of specialty gift shop," said Derby.

"It broke before I moved to Saskatoon. I shoved it in a box and thought it could be fixed. But then when I looked at it myself, I didn't have a clue."

Volunteer Walker and duck lamp owner Derby were working together on Saturday, trying to save the item from the landfill.

Repairing things instead of throwing them away was one of the goals of Saturday's one-day Repair Cafe, organized by the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council and the Saskatoon Makerspace. Volunteers in Saskatoon and Regina offered their skills — free of charge — to help repair other people's household items at Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre in Regina and Saskatoon Makerspace.

Damaged camping heaters, worn-down clothes and broken lamps were among many different objects getting a second chance.

"Earlier [Derby] came in and we were working with a plug that was far beyond repair," said Walker.

"She picked up a new plug. And so now we're just assembling it and putting it back together. And we should get light."

Think about repair instead of chucking things

In addition to the in-person events in Saskatoon and Regina, people across Saskatchewan were able to join a virtual Repair Cafe where volunteers provided advice and instructions to help others repair their broken belongings.

"Waste reduction obviously is a huge issue," said Meg Dorwart, communication and events coordinator with the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council.

"I get so much joy from putting on these events. It's nice to see people get so excited about fixing their stuff because that's literally the whole point … trying to get people excited about repair and thinking about repair when something breaks."

LISTEN | Repair Cafe offers a hand in breathing new life into worn-down and broken household items:

Saskatoon Morning6:49Repair Cafe offers a hand in breathing new life into worn-down and broken household items

CBC reporter Theresa Kliem got a first-hand look at Saskatoon’s Repair Cafe in action. This is where volunteers offer their skills, free of charge, to fix other people's household items. 6:49

Saskatchewan generates the second-highest amount of waste per capita in the country, according to the provincial government's website.

Every year each person in Saskatchewan produces an average of 842 kilograms of waste, which is comparable to the weight of 60 regular household bags of garbage, the province says.

Meg Dorwart is the communication and events coordinator at the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council. She was one of the organizers of the Repair Cafe in Saskatoon (Theresa Kliem/CBC)

Textile waste a big problem, says Saskatoon volunteer

After two years of mostly virtual workshops, the one-day event on Saturday was the second in-person Repair Cafe in Saskatoon since the pandemic hit in 2020, said Dorwart. 

"It's obviously so much different than virtual because you get ... the energy of the people, and way more people come out."

Both the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council and the Makerspace hope to run the biannual event more often in the future.

Volunteer Adrian Pearce was fixing Debby Peng's bike at the Repair Cafe in Saskatoon Saturday. Peng says she loves getting things fixed instead of buying new stuff. (Theresa Kliem/CBC )

Amanda Ross was one of the 16 volunteers in the city offering their skills to help others.

While usually working as a teacher, sewing has been a lifelong passion of the Saskatoon woman.

Seeing the finished product after putting needle and thread aside gives her a sense of completion and satisfaction, said Ross.

Amanda Ross was busy volunteering as a sewer at the Saskatoon Repair Cafe on Saturday. (Theresa Kliem/CBC)

"I've been sewing since I was old enough to see over the table because both my mother and my grandmother were sewers," she said.

"I started sewing again as sort of a therapy to fill that need for gratification. And then just doing some research, I learned a lot about … textile waste."

That's when Ross started getting more interested in repair and recycling.

A grey cardigan and ripped jeans were just some of the clothes ending up on her table on Saturday.

It's important to Ross that garments with holes don't just end up in the garbage.

"The amount of waste that happens in the textile industry with fast fashion is atrocious," she said.

"That just kills me because there's so much that we could be better spending our money and resources on."

WATCH | Clothes from Canada account for huge waste:

Clothes from Canada account for huge waste | CBC Marketplace

Clothes thrown away account for a huge amount of waste in garbage dumps, according to CBC Marketplace's latest investigation. Canadians on average purchase 70 new articles of clothing a year and that contributes to the 12 million tons a year of textile waste dumped into North America's landfills. Some retailers have launched sustainability campaigns and set up in-store bins for recycling old items, but it's no solution to the endless onslaught of throw-away clothes 7:00

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