Repair culture can fix Singapore's waste problem

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has done commendable work in launching incentives like the Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises (Lush) programme to encourage developers to allocate green spaces in their new projects (More green spaces in high-rise building targeted for Singapore's concrete jungle; Nov 10)

While URA's commitment to environmentally sustainable development is outstanding, more has to be done in other aspects to make Singapore into a more environmentally sustainable nation.

One area that could be improved on would be consumerism. This issue is pertinent as in 2016 alone, Singapore generated 7.81 million tonnes of waste, averaging 1,400kg of waste per person.

Granted, there is an increased movement by retailers to promote recycling within their shops, however, they offer mainly monetary incentives in the form of vouchers to reward consumers. These vouchers inherently encourage consumers to purchase and consume more. As such, these practices adopted by retailers are not sustainable in the long run and are unlikely to change the mindsets of consumers.

Perhaps a more effective way to tackle excessive consumerism would be to encourage new behaviours, such as through the promotion of a repair culture. This would encourage consumers to repair their items instead of throwing them away once the slightest defect appears.

To that end, greater recognition and funding need to be given to organisations such as Repair Kopitiam, which aims to equip participants with the necessary skills to fix their damaged items by themselves. This is a sustainable long-term solution as it promotes a change in mindset.

Organisations like Repair Kopitiam lack resources to expand their reach and influence more people. Currently, Repair Kopitiam conducts workshops in Jurong West and Tampines monthly.

It would help if provisions could be made for more accessible venues, such as the atria of town councils, to be used by the organisation.

Eugene Mok

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2017, with the headline 'Repair culture can fix Singapore's waste problem'. Print Edition | Subscribe