Repair Kopitiam: Care to Repair

When your barang stops working, what do you do?

If the first idea that pops into your head is an open trash can, hold that thought, because you might just be able to fix it, save some cash (good news in a slumping economy), and pick up useful skills along the way.

The Repair Kopitiam right here in Singapore adds an extra ‘R’ to the green trio of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”. By teaching people how to repair their own items, the volunteers contribute to community skills, stretch out the lifespan of objects and cut down on cost and waste – an all-round win-win situation.

Taking place on the last Sunday of every month, from 10am – 3pm, volunteer repair coaches assist people with assessing their broken furniture, torn clothing, or faulty home appliances, and teach them basic skills on how to repair them – for free.

The two repair kopitiams are located at the void decks of Blk 425 @ Jurong West Ave 1, and Blk 819 @ Tampines St 81. Among the items successfully salvaged by participants include wobbly tricycle seats, rice cookers, chairs, toaster ovens, and many more.

They’re working to change our throwaway culture to something more sustainable for the planet (and our wallet) – and doing it with a sense of humour.

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The Repair Cafe concept started in Amsterdam in 2009, blossomed across Europe, travelled as far as Japan and Australia, and inspired Singapore’s own ‘kopitiam’ version just last year.

Apart from the obvious benefits, the Repair Kopitiam also affords a chance to appreciate and enjoy the stuff that surrounds us every day. By taking apart our barang for repair, participants can see the clever designs that go into everyday objects – heating elements, fuses, or stitching techniques – the genius behind ordinary items.

If you’d like to get involved in this counter-culture of repair, you can sign up as a volunteer, or simply bring your broken items down to a Repair Kopitiam session (for guidelines on what can or cannot be fixed, see their FAQ.) For example:

Q: Can you repair my broken heart?

A: Sadly no. ._.

But we CAN do electrical repair, fabric repair, home improvement / mechanical repair.”

By Vincent Tan

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