How to record repair data using Restarters (and why it matters!), 30 May 7:30pm

Anyone who’s been to a Restart Party or Repair Café intuitively understands why community repair events are so incredible. From sharing skills to saving waste and building communities, the benefits are obvious.

But demonstrating those benefits and connecting them up with others doing the same work can be more tricky. That’s why one of the key features of Restarters is the ability to log information about the repairs undertaken at events.

We’re running a training session about how this works and the benefits of doing so.

Whether you’ve been using Restarters to record repair data for years, or haven’t started yet, come along to learn:

There will also be time for questions.

If you’d like to come, please complete the poll below (just to help us get a sense of numbers) :pray:

Here are the details:

When? :clock830:

2023-05-30T18:30:00Z for 90 minutes.
(click or tap the time to see it in different time zones or to add it to your calendar)

Where? :compass:

On Zoom. Here’s the link:

(we’ll open the room a few minutes before the session is due to begin)

Would you like to come to this skillshare?

  • Yes, I’d like to come
  • I can’t make it, but would like to see the recording

0 voters


I will ensure to join though the time is late where I am. But it’s something very useful. we are still having challenges documenting our impact(amount of carbon emissions reduced) so still training someone to focus on documentation.

Great that you can make it Mathew, though sorry it’s so late for you; finding a time that works for everyone is always tricky! I look forward to seeing you there!


No;; i’ll not,be taking part.

Because I’m completely unconvinced bout the value of collecting statistics from Repairm Cafés

Not 1 kilogramme of CO2 has been saved by a statistic. They are saved by peoples’ ACTIONS. And those actions are motivated by a change in mentalities. A change to “Repair; don’t throw away”.

So for me [and I’ve helped at comforably over 200 Repair Cafés so far] the key is not weighing and counting things. but in having the person with the item be present and watch throughout the repair, and ideally help – and really ideally, do it themselves, with help and instruction from the volunteer repairer…

It’s an education thing. The repair itself is just the medium to get across the message that repairing is often easy, frequently low- or no-cost, and gives the owner a sense of ownership that they don’t get from just buying another new one.

The CO2 saving will come from them; not us.

I’m guessing that one reason Restart is (quite reasonably) very interested in reporting metrics showing success of their efforts is because that encourages/justifies funding they (and others) receive, so even though the end goal is yes changing peoples actions, and yes that is less directly achieved simply by reporting metrics, the need for funding to keep the effort going doesn’t go away, so metrics are needed.


Perhaps . . . but why the need for funding?

We have been running bi-monthly Repair Cafés for three years now, without needing any outside funding. Repairees are very willing - even keen - to make a voluntary contribution. The more we insist that repairs are free, the more they give.

The donations more than cover our expenses. Indeed, we’re thinking of looking for a worthy local charity, to pass xthe excess on to.

We count minds changed; not kilos of repairs.

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Some great points here, thanks Giles and Ian.

Giles, it sounds like we actually agree about the purpose and value of Repair Cafés and similar events. I think you’re absolutely right: education and changing attitudes towards repair are key goals. At our own Restart Parties in London, for example, we call the people who come along ‘participants’ because there’s nothing quite like getting hands on repairing your own item. And as repair volunteers and organisers, we see the value that changing minds creates first hand.

So for us, recording data about the things we try to fix isn’t a case of “and/or”, but rather “yes and…”.

As Ian says, it can help us all quantify some of this value for audiences who don’t know much about what we all do or aren’t yet interested. Funders are a good example, as many repair networks rely on funding to seed/support new repair groups, offer insurance cover, provide tools/training and so on. But impact data can also help groups celebrate their impact, motivate volunteers and get more people through the door.

But even more than that, we see this data as another key educational tool. While repair for its own sake is certainly enough for many, the stories we tell can become even more powerful when we add more strings to the bow. We’ll go into more detail in the session, but for now a couple of examples:

  • Waste is the most visible impact of broken stuff, but it’s actually the production of goods that tends to be the most environmentally damaging phase. Quantifying how much CO2e we save through repairs can encourage people to recognise the crucial link between the stuff we buy and its massive upstream environmental impacts.
  • Learning more about why stuff breaks can help us change the way products are designed in the first place, making them easier to fix and making repair accessible to more people and massively scaling up our collective impact (e.g. through regulation that mandates design for disassembly, better repair documentation, more spare parts etc.) - e.g. via the European Right to Repair Campaign we co-founded.

Every group is different of course, and different people respond to different messages. Recording repair data may not work for some groups, which is absolutely fine and not a requirement for using Restarters. But if you are interested in learning more about why we think it’s a valuable practice, you’re more than welcome to come along to this session :slight_smile:


Hi Giles I completely agree with you on the education side of things. I went to @james previous training on this and for me the data collection was about way more than weighing and counting things. There were a couple of examples that he provided of how data that had been collected through Repair Cafes was used to refute claims made by manufacturers about the reparability of their products. Without that “citizen science” level data it would have been impossible for Restart Project to do that. The fact that collectively our data helped influence policy-makers - was a real wake up call for me. Another aspect was to refute claims within the industry that people want new products all the time when people are bringing items to the Repair Cafe that are several years old and want to keep on using them. Like you I love the educational side of the repair cafes and see it as the forefront of what we do, but I also hugely value our role in being part of a wider collective movement that helps tackle the issues of unsustainable consumption. I would urge your Repair Café to consider collecting the data using Restarters.


The data isn’t just about calculating emission statistics, it can also teach us a lot about the devices that turn up at repair events and this information is not only used in campaigns but can be of use by fixers. Some of the questions we have put to the data in our quests:

Why do smartphones fail? What are the barriers to smartphone repair?
Why do printers fail? What are the barriers to repairing them?
Why do vacuum cleaners fail? What are the barriers to repairing them?
Why do laptops fail? What are the barriers to repairing them?
Why do tablets fail? What are the barriers to repairing them?
What are the main barriers to repairing battery-related problems?


Thanks for this, Monique.

I can see value in comparing notes on specific items, their problems, and the difficulties manufacturers put in the way of repairs.

Last week I was handed a nasty but expensive, plastic Chinese radio. Only a few months old; wouldn’t work – either from USB lead or from batteries. Impossible get into, because 5 mounting screws were down 50mm deep, 5mm diameter holes, with PZ1 heads. And the sixth was a “security” 5-pointed star drive, with a blocking pin in the middle. Sold and branded John Lewis. So it would be would be worthwhile to compare notes, see if it was systematic, and let John Lewis know to avoid in future.

But all that is very much limited to small electricals. For much of the rest - bikes, furniture, textiles, sharpening/toolsetting, china/glass/porcelain, clocks, bookbinding, gardening tools, etc. - it’s irrelevant.

And for those, collecting statistics on “Kgs of CO2 saved” is just a form of Virtue Signalling.

I went - briefly - to one RC [I won’t say which; but you know who you are, UCA] where repairers were required to fiil out a form with 21 questions on it, after each repair. Repair Café? Or generating data for an MPhil thesis?

I’m intensely proud that at our home RC there is NO - repeat NO - paperwork. Everything is done on a goodwill basis.

And our repairees frequently volunteer how nice it is, compared to more formalised RCs.

As I said before: We count minds changed . . .

. . . but we don’t note them down.


Hi @Giles_Cattermole,
As always in this community, it’s great to learn what motivates people the most, and the least!

Quite a lot of groups don’t share repair data, but many others do, for one of the reasons/motivations outlined above. And with this platform we want to support them.

The event is for those interested in learning more about good data collection practices, and how we’re trying to make it simple and not too cumbersome for event organisers and for volunteer repairers to contribute.

Meanwhile, keep up the community repair spirit - we all agree that change begins with people actively getting involved in repairing at events.


Hi everyone, just a reminder that this session is happening today from 7:30pm UK time.
Looking forward to seeing you there :slight_smile:


I am getting invalid link from zoom?

We’re about to start!

Here’s the link:

The Zoom link is not working for me. Says Invalid ID

Oh - this version DOES work!

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This is the form we use to collect data during the events.
repair Tracking Sheet.pdf (70.0 KB)
Happy to share the editable version if you want to make changes

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As mentioned during the session, here’s a place where we’ve been documenting various types of data collection methods that occur at events (flipcharts, paper forms, spreadsheet, digital tools, etc) that we’ve seen from various repair groups, with some thoughts on pros and cons of each:

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I’m sorry I missed it, I couldn’t access it… may I ask if a recording is available at all?