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Action of the month / Waste not, want not: Breathe new life into broken objects

Geste - Novembre 2016 448x216

Winter is right around the corner, and you know what that means: time to winterize your home for the cold months ahead. It’s also a great opportunity to repair all the broken objects piled up around the house and in the shed—from your son’s coat lining to Gaston’s shovel handle.

We live in a consumer society that encourages us to buy, throw away and buy again. Every year Canadians produce 1,000 kilos of waste, and 25 million tonnes end up in landfills or incinerators. And yet many discarded objects still work perfectly well.


In Sweden, a bill to give tax breaks on repairs to everything from bicycles to washing machines will soon be presented in parliament. It aims to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions and promote the creation of a new home-repairs service industry, which will create jobs.


Not good with your hands? Why not find a friend or neighbour who can help you out? Here are a few sharing economy initiatives in different regions of Quebec:

Throughout Quebec

  • Ici nos quartiers is a platform that puts you in touch with people in your area who are ready to help each other. It’s a good place to start if you want to share tools and skills or find babysitters, carpooling partners and much more.
  • You’ll find lots of ads for repair and maintenance services in local newspapers, on community bulletin boards or on Kijiji and LesPACS.


  • La Remise–Bibliothèque d’outils [La Remise Tool Library] in Parc-Extension encourages community living by lending various tools to members and providing a workspace where they can carry out projects and receive advice from volunteer experts.
  • Proxiigen is a neighbourhood social network for connecting with people in your community and helping one another. Started in France, the network is now becoming popular here—Montrealers want to help each other too.

Quebec City

  • Le Café la Mosaïque regularly organizes Repair Café events. The Repair Café initiative started in Amsterdam and has spread to over 29 countries. But it’s still fairly new in Quebec. You can take along items or appliances in need of repair and fix them with the tools and materials provided. Expert volunteers and professionals are often there to help. Stay tuned for the next event! How about starting a Repair Café in your community?


  • Jacques Lebrun, the owner of O’Boyle & Duplessis, has been repairing small appliances for over 30 years. If you’d like to give new life to your appliances, Mr. Lebrun also sells various parts at his store. Click here to watch a video clip of Mr. Fix-it on Salut Bonjour.

Beauharnois-Salaberry RCM

  • Beauharnois-Salaberry RCM’s Environment and Waste Management Department took the initiative of creating a Repair Directory in an effort to reduce waste. It contains a listing of local jewellers, shoemakers, electronic businesses, seamstresses and more.

Are there similar initiatives in your area? If so, please tell us about them in the comment section!


If you’re good with your hands or an autodidact and would like to repair things yourself with tools borrowed from a neighbour, check out the Web. You’ll find tutorials, manuals and various other resources for repairing everything from coffee machines to the button on your favourite shirt.

  • YouTube is an excellent source of all kinds of video tutorials.
  • At (France) you’ll find a wide range of repair guides for clothes, furniture, electronic goods, cars and more. Can’t find the guide you need? Make a request and a community member will suggest ways to repair your appliance.


You have the best of intentions, but your appliance is officially at the end of its useful life?

  • Opt for a second-hand replacement. As well as encouraging reuse, which extends the useful life of appliances, you’ll produce less waste and save money. You’ll find all kinds of appliances in good condition in garage sales, thrift stores, bazaars and classified ads, or on Kijiji and LesPAC.
  • Make sure you recycle or dispose of appliances properly and return materials to your nearest eco-centre. Click here for more tips and tricks.

Ready, set, repair!