Consume less. Be mindful of the product you consume, where it comes from, and where it’ll end up after.

Farah Sanwari is in the business of developing solutions for organisations and communities seeking long-lasting growth. She takes the concept of sustainability to a new level by making use of her expertise to come up with various initiatives that address some of the most pertinent green issues of today. 

Replacing the Buy-and-Throw Culture 

Farah is clear about what needs to be done to reduce waste: consumers must consume less. To combat the buy-and-throw culture and reduce waste generation, Farah co-initiated Repair Kopitiam in 2014, a community project aimed at promoting repair culture. At Repair Kopitiam, on-site volunteer repair coaches trained by Sustainable Living Lab help members of the public fix their broken or damaged household appliances, furniture, toys and clothing. Repair coaches involve their “patrons” in the process, so that they too get to experience the joy and satisfaction of restoring their items. 

To date, more than 300 volunteers have been trained to run the programme. It is now held monthly in two locations, and more than 60 items are repaired at each session. Repair Kopitiam has also led to several spin-off programmes like Repair Kakis at Wellness Kampung by Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Repair@School involving Nanyang Girls’ High School and Commonwealth Secondary School, and Repair Ramadhan, where Madrasah Aljunied students rendered their services during Ramadhan to the public. 

Empowering Youths Through Critical Thinking 

Besides dealing with environmental issues head-on, Ms Farah recognises the need to innovate today for tomorrow. That is the philosophy behind a series of workshops that Ms Farah leads and conducts in schools as part of the Eco Kepalas @ South East Schools programme, aimed at grooming students to become environmental champions through Design Thinking. Empowered with this critical thinking process, Eco Kepalas identify gaps on the environmental front and suggest innovative strategies. This programme has been running since 2015 and more than 650 students have benefitted from the workshops. 

Exploring Different Ways to Tackle Waste 

In 2013, Ms Farah co-founded FiTree, a Muslim environmental group that aims to inspire fellow Muslims to do their part for the environment as true “khalifah fil ardh” (Stewards of the Earth). She worked together with volunteers on the Green Iftar, a campaign to promote the adoption of eco-friendly iftar (breaking of fast) practices by mosque congregations during the month of Ramadhan. These include using recyclables or reusable crockery and utensils, eating with a shared tray instead of individual plates, and lining the trays with banana leaves instead of plastic. This annual project is done in collaboration with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) and in partnership with mosques. 

Farah is a recipient of the NEA Ecofriend Awards 2019.

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