Coffee machines, bicycles and trousers are the commonest items fixed at Repair Cafes worldwide - and it may be the same in Whanganui.

Eco-educator Nelson Lebo has chosen October - Buy Nothing New Month according to an Australian calendar - to try holding a couple of Repair Cafes in Whanganui.

People can bring wooden furniture, fabric items, toys, bicycles and small electrical appliances that need fixing, and have them fixed by volunteers for a gold coin. They can have a cuppa while they wait and watch.

Lebo will be helped by two interns at his Eco School and is looking for volunteers with skills in woodwork, sewing, bicycle repair and electrical work. He's asking them to bring equipment, such as sewing machines, and to email him at


He'll be bringing his battery-operated drills and screwdrivers.

"My style of repair is durable but not necessarily attractive," Lebo said.

"I believe in big, beefy repairs. With a drill and some screws and nuts and bolts you can pretty much hold anything together."

He's trying out the Repair Cafe idea because he believes in volunteering and in fixing things. He wants to model it for his children, who will be there.

His message for retailers, who could miss out in a Buy Nothing New Month, is to stock durable products that can be disassembled and repaired and to have a repair department. That way, they could put the Repair Cafe out of business.

"We would be paying people in our community to do the work rather than Chinese factory workers to make a whole other machine."

The trial dates for the pop-up cafe are noon-3pm at the Durie Hill Village Market on October 6 and 2-4pm at the Whanganui Learning Centre on October 12. If all goes well there could be more, and Lebo would register Whanganui with the Repair Cafe International Foundation.

There are three other Repair Cafes in New Zealand, two in Auckland and one in Te Puke. Their aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste going to landfill.