The Sustainable Living Lab (SL2), a social enterprise founded in 2011, has evolved from a student organisation in the National University of Singapore (NUS) that was about using technology to address the Millennium Development Goals (precursor to the Sustainable Development Goals). The mission of SL2 has remained generally unchanged over the years, which is to advance sustainability using technology experimentation and social innovation. Check out their Climate Action story here!

SL2’s work involves the promotion of sustainable innovation practices and the development of partnerships for community impact in South East Asia. They reach out to organisations which seek to encourage an innovation mindset amongst their staff, and take the opportunity to introduce sustainability concepts – the latest of which is the Circular Economy, and implement customised projects for their customers. They also work with local and international government agencies, typically around community oriented programs in the area of nurturing innovators, environmental sustainability, digital divide issues and youth unemployment. Their spin-off company, Makedemy, works extensively with schools on innovation, business and environmental programs.

Repair Kopitiam, one of SL2’s better-known community ground-up programmes, aims to combat the buy-and-throw culture and helps Singapore move towards our vision of a zero-waste nation. Every last Sunday of each month, people turn up at community meet-ups to repair simple items such as electrical appliances, torn clothes and learn about responsible e-waste disposal with the guidance of volunteer Repair Coaches. Its efforts in encouraging the community to take climate action by reducing, reusing, recycling and repairing, gives Repair Kopitiam the social edge in helping Singapore to develop a successful circular economy.

Repair Kopitiam

SL2 has proven that they can create economic value through actions that lead to a sustainable future. They have learned the importance of being nimble as an organisation and being extremely diverse in terms of knowledge and abilities. They shared that other organisations who wish to embark on the sustainability journey should get to a point where they are able to generate tangible value and once having done that, to build a system in a virtuous cycle that will continue the good work with or without the original initiators.

SL2’s climate action pledge in 2018 is to re-distribute and re-purpose wood for other projects and to recycle cut-off cardboard after use. Mr Veerapan Swaminathan, founder of SL2, shared a quote to highlight the importance of taking collective climate action now:

When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.


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