All Posts By

Charlotte Low

Sustainable Living

A Holly Jolly Low Waste Christmas

Christmas – a festive season which is loved by almost everyone. The abundance of presents under the tree, a wide array of scrumptious food on the table and spending time with your loved ones.

Christmas originates from many religions and traditions. The Roman pagans had a weeklong festival called Saturnalia (which we can consider as Christmas holidays), mistletoe was introduced by Norse mythology and the true identity of Santa Claus is most probably Saint Nicolas who is from Turkey.

Brought forward a few centuries later, Christmas today is very different from the past as it has gradually transformed into a consumer or material-oriented season, where we buy new items for our loved ones. Then, it is certainly not a surprise that our global carbon footprint in this period is 6% higher than the rest of the year.

Christmas is giving the environment a hard time, but it doesn’t have to be this way. So how exactly can we celebrate a Christmas that is not only good for our loved ones but also a little better for Mother Earth?

Tip 1: Invest in Compostable Tableware

What is Christmas without a feast? Ordering food in or arranging for catering is a common practice during Christmas. Most caterers provide disposable cutleries and plates which indirectly creates a large amount of waste. The best option without a doubt is to use reusables to serve your guests. However, we understand the amount of time and effort taken to wash them up. So, if you want a better alternative to plastic disposables, why not try compostable or biodegradable tableware? An example would be Nature rustic’s Tableware who sell tableware that is 100% natural, made from naturally fallen Areca palm tree sheaths.

Tip 2: Go homemade!

An alternative to arranging catering would be Potluck or Homemade food? If you are one of the braves that decided to do so, you deserve a pat on your back! Potlucks are less energy consuming as the task of cooking is distributed between everyone. One little tip is to ask your guests to bring their food in reusable containers so that they can take the leftovers back!

Reports from the non-governmental organization Zero Waste indicates an expected rise of food waste by 10 to 20% during the festive season. If you are the one who is cooking all the Christmas food, remember that organization and preparation are key! Try planning ahead of time in terms of the quantity of food you will need to cook (remember to note if anyone has any intolerances or allergies to certain foods). It’s important to know who/ how many will be eating to cater as close as possible to their needs without overcooking. In case you can’t help but cook too much, you can always store food in the fridge. Take it out in case of extreme emergency AKA everyone ate all the food and are still starving, which will most likely not happen, but you can always take that precaution.

In any case, you will most likely have leftovers, don’t throw them away! Distribute them to the guests or freeze them for the days where you feel like cooking feels like an Olympic sport.

Tip 3: Be Your Own Christmas Elf

Christmas decorations today are quite tempting with the festive and cosy feel they give to the house. As pretty and festive as they may seem, Christmas decorations aren’t made in Latvia by elves with striped tights, but instead, 60% of them are manufactured in China by underpaid workers. Plus, some of these decorations are made of plastic and are one time use only!

I know what you’re going to ask me, but what do I replace my decorations with? Well, how about upcycled decorations? Believe it or not, you can actually make your own Christmas decorations with items you can find at home. Pinterest in full of kid’s tutorials on how to upcycle home items into festive decorations, if kids can do it so can you! Not only can you upcycle things from your house but you also get one of a kind decorations you cannot find anywhere else. A win win situation! However if you find yourself thinking about what you’re supposed to do with the decorations you still have, just keep them! Take good care of them so that you use them for many years then recycle or upcycle when possible.

For the Christmas tree, a reusable one is always better. But do make sure you have the commitment to set it up every year! If you don’t want to invest in one but still want the Christmas feel of a tree, you can make use of books, branches, bottles or anything you can find in your house to form a shape of a tree. Simply let your creativity guide you!

Tip 4: Be a Conscious Santa 

Lastly, the most important part of Christmas – Gifts! Christmas is very much about giving and getting gifts. This year for Christmas, try to think about the meaning behind the gift that you want to give. Find a gift which means something for the other person. It could be an item that they have been talking about it for a year, it could be a cause that they strongly believe in or it can also be an experience. Experiences are unique because people don’t experience the same way, they create invaluable memories. You can always offer them a bungee jumping session, a day doing tree climbing, a surfing class, a lip balm workshop or even a massage! (Believe me, they will thank you for the last one). If you do buy someone a gift, try to evaluate it based on the functionality and usability. The last thing you want is for someone to not use your present.

In terms of wrapping gifts, replace your wrapping paper with a nice cloth or simply put the gift in a carton bag which they can then reuse.

We have a product list which zero waste items you can offer, in case you want others to discover the wonderful world of Zero-waste. Do try one or more of our tips to reduce your waste during Christmas, every little step helps!

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Ecobricks: Plastic Solved

There are 25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean and every day, each person in Singapore throws away 13 plastic bags.  Yes, that amount is no longer a shocker to us anymore. We are all well aware of the dire state of plastic pollution happening in our oceans and how plastic is now the number one enemy of everyone.

So, what if we told you, there is a way to reduce the amount of plastic being thrown into the ocean? Plus, you can actually do it from the comfort of your home and it requires only 2 minutes of your time?

What exactly is this magical method that holds the potential of solving the top global problem now? Well, the answer is – an Ecobrick!

Here is the basic information you need to know about these magical building blocks:

 

What is an Ecobrick?

An Ecobrick is essentially a reusable building block created by solid non-biodegradable waste placed into a plastic bottle to a set density. By packing the bottles with a set density, it makes them suitable building blocks for virtually any construction. They can also be packed with other non-biological un-recyclables that, uncontained, are toxic to the environment (i.e. styrofoam, wires, small batteries, etc.).

Ecobricks are a sustainable way to reuse non-biodegradable plastic waste as the plastic waste are regarded as a long-lasting and durable material. Hence, keeping plastic out of the ecosystem and prevents the contamination of the environment.

Ecobricks are used to make many things such as furniture, walls and buildings. It allows communities and companies to get control of their plastic waste to create modular furniture, garden spaces, walls and even full-scale buildings.

 

How does it help the environment?

  • EcoBricks prevent plastic waste from disrupting the ecosystem: 

    Usually, when thrown away, plastic breaks down into tiny pieces and contaminates the area where it is. EcoBricks seal the plastic away preventing the buildup of toxic gases emitted during the degradation of the plastic, such as methane. PET bottles are perfect for sealing away the plastic because they have an incredible longevity and protect the contents from UV rays.

  • Ecobricking raises ecological consciousness: 

    We often do not think about the afterlife of our discarded plastic bottles. Ecobricking addresses our short-sightedness, as making Ecobricks demands time and dedication, it leads to questions on the uses of plastic.

  • Ecobricks are a low energy solution to plastic:

    Recycling isn’t necessarily the best solution since the facilities demand technology, funds and a substantial amount of human energy. It also involves transportation and the waste can travel around the world before reaching its destination only to end up in a saturated recycling plant. EcoBricks don’t require all that fuss, with anyone having the ability to make their own Ecobricks. It is a simple solution to a complex problem which can be applied anywhere by everyone.

 

How do I make an Ecobrick?

Follow the following steps and you can be an owner of an Ecobrick!

1. Get your plastics ready

Only use clean, dry plastic or else microbiologicals beings can grow and form methane in the bottle. If there is any food, oil or dirt on your plastic, be sure to wash then dry. Clean and dry plastic includes styrofoam, bags, packaging, straws, cellophane and is basically anything else that is not recyclable.

Do note that you are not supposed to put any glass, metal or biodegradables into the bottle.

2. Choose a bottle

Find 1.5 litres or 500ml bottle and you are ready to start!

3. Find your perfect stick

Find the correct stick which will allow you to pack the plastic well, it should be twice the height of your bottle, with a slightly rounded tip and with a diameter roughly one third the width of a standard bottle opening– about 6mm

4. Get creative with your ecobrick

The first piece of plastic should be soft plastic with a solid colour, so be creative as it will make your trash look colourful!

5. Pack your bottle!

Pack your bottle with plastic, alternating between soft and hard plastic to maximise the density. The smaller the pieces, the denser you’ll get, so cut up big plastics into smaller pieces!

6. Weigh your Ecobrick

Minimum Ecobrick weight = Bottle volume x 0.33

Minimum density goals are essential to ensure the quality of ecobricks as it helps to ensure good constructions, make the most of the volume and energize the social spread of ecobricks.

Do be careful as Ecobricks should not be too soft as they will not be reliable enough for construction.

 

Donate your Ecobricks!

Now that you have built your ecobricks, what next? Donate them to us!

We are collecting your eco bricks to be used as an art installation piece at The Conscious Festival on 3rd and 4th November of 2018 at Parkroyal Pickering Street. After the event, the bottles will be kept for other outreach purposes.

Requirements:

We require your 1.5-litre bottle (preferably mineral water or soft drink models)! We need 12 of them to create meaningful modules that can be created into furniture such as pillars, chairs or tables.

Bottles should be stuffed tightly with items with scrap items (preferably not recyclable items), such as scotch tape, small plastic bags, stickers, labels, wax paper. If it is possible, do help us to include items with blue packaging for our underwater theme. The only thing that cannot be placed inside are items that are wet, or contaminated with food.

If you have smaller sized plastic bottles (500ml), that is fine too! Empty plastic bottles are accepted as well!

Our goal: 200 of 1.5 litre eco bricks!

Collection Date: Please stuff the items into the bottles and pass them to us during our event on the 21st of October 2018!