In the vibrant city-state of Singapore, a transformative initiative known as Repair Kopitiam has been quietly revolutionizing the way residents approach their belongings. Founded in 2014 by Veerappan Swaminathan and Farah Sanwari and currently run by SL2 Impact, the non-profit arm of Sustainable Living Lab, Repair Kopitiam has evolved into a force combating the prevalent “Buy and Throw Away” culture. By encouraging residents to repair rather than discard, the initiative aims to create a sustainable society that redefines the lifecycle of products.
Monthly Repair Meetups
The heartbeat of Repair Kopitiam is its community-driven approach, evident in the monthly repair meetups held on the last Sunday of each month. At these events, diverse groups of people converge, bringing with them malfunctioning or broken household items in need of repair. The initiative not only addresses the immediate issue of item repair but also fosters a collective responsibility towards a circular economy.
Volunteer Repair Coaches
Central to the success of Repair Kopitiam is the passionate volunteer Repair Coaches who guide participants through the repair process. The transfer of knowledge from those proficient in repairs to eager learners forms the backbone of a sustainable community model. Beyond one-off repair events, Repair Kopitiam offers workshops where participants delve into the intricacies of tinkering, gaining technical prowess and the mindset of a lifelong learner.
With a cumulative impact of training approximately 4,500 volunteer Repair Coaches since its inception, Repair Kopitiam currently operates with over 100 Repair Coaches across nine event locations. The initiative serves as a filter for recycling, focusing on the importance of repairing items before resorting to recycling. By promoting pre-repair maintenance, replacing broken parts, and salvaging functional components, Repair Kopitiam seeks to lower the barrier for the general public to engage in repair activities.
A Vision for the Future
Repair Kopitiam recognizes the pivotal role that the youth play in shaping the future, and as such, the initiative actively engages this demographic through collaborations with educational and youth organisations in Singapore. Extending beyond the monthly repair meetups, these programmes emphasize the importance of pre-repair maintenance, instilling in the youth a proactive mindset regarding the maintenance and repair of everyday items.
photo: Repair Kopitiam
In the hands of Repair Kopitiam, discarded items find new life, and communities are woven together through shared experiences of repair and resilience. Repair Kopitiam stands as a powerful exemplar of grassroots initiatives, showcasing that by addressing the specific needs of individuals within communities, a ripple effect of positive change can be sparked, fostering a collective ethos of responsibility and environmental stewardship.