Bring out the maker in you through repair!

You can’t miss this father and son team manning the unique station of Responsible Disposal at Repair Kopitiam. At this station, Wee Yang and son, Yee Chern, would share with others on how to dismantle electronics (mainly printers) safely, harvest the useful parts like motors, gears and springs, separate the parts by materials and then dispose them accordingly. With the parts harvested, participants can then tinker with it and create objects such as a new motorised toy! It is a station that aims to get people thinking about the end-life of the product and act upon it before it becomes another pile of junk.

This brilliant idea of a station did not just come out of the blue. It was the result of an exciting maker journey together as a father and son team. Wee Yang shares that it was through his son, Yee Chern, that they started this journey together. A tinkerer by nature, Yee Chern amazed his father with his inquisitiveness and creativity. He started making his own toys with waste cardboard since he was 7 years old. Motivated by this, Wee Yang got him to repair things at home like the door knob and taught him simple electronics and skills such as soldering.

It was after Yee Chern’s PSLE that both of them got involved in Sunday Morning Makers: Repair Edition. Seeing how Yee Chern loves harvesting parts from old electronics, and also the parts that remain that had to be disposed, Wee Yang started to see a new dimension to repairing. What if we cannot repair anymore? Do we simply discard them? We can harvest the motors and gears, but what about the parts that have to be disposed? What if all these parts were separated and sent for recycling? Backed by his company’s ‘make do or mend’ attitude at work as a way to be cost efficient, Wee Yang conceived this ‘Responsible Disposal’ station in hopes of engaging the public in a conversation about sustainability and to spur their creativity.

Speaking on the culture of repair, Wee Yang says, “The older generation have the knowledge, culture and mentality of repair. However, circumstances such as lack of tools and the accessibility to purchase cheap goods have made them more inclined towards buying and throwing away old things. It’s important to revive this (repair culture) and let it grow amongst people.”

Repair Kopitiam is an indirect way of addressing a pertinent issue of consumption and disposal in our society but the effort, Wee Yang opines, begins with the self. “After taking on this mentality and attitude, it should then be shared with the people at home, and eventually we can spread it to the community.”

Wee Yang and Yee Chern’s effort today are inspirational and definitely on its way to achieve positive impact in society. Together with the other Repair Coaches, they are planting the seeds to attain a more mindful society for a sustainable future.