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Sustainable Living

Being an Environmentally Conscious Pet Owner

We love pets. Who wouldn’t?

Singapore’s pet population is projected to hit 824,000 pets in 2016, according to statistics from Euromonitor International.  The Federation Cynologique Internationale also reported that Singaporeans own over 62,000 dogs in 2017. With that in mind, how we clean up after our pets or even the treats we feed them, will have a sizable impact on the environment. Many green practices that have become our good habits can also be applied to our pets as well, so why not take a step further by taking care of the environment while taking care of your pet?

There are many ways we can reduce our carbon “paw-print”, and here are just to name a few:

 

Tip 1: Reusable wipes

If you use wet wipes to clean your pet or to clean up a mess they made, it’s time to switch to an eco-friendly alternative! One method would be to simply use a reusable cloth, which can be washed after every use. You can use towels that are not used anymore, or even cut up old clothes. Not to mention, it can help you save a lot of money in the long-run! Another method would be to switch to more eco-friendly wet wipes, such as Cloversoft’s non-toxic wet wipes that are made from 100% unbleached bamboo pulp.

 

Tip 2: Using what you can to pick up poop

Often, the waste that we create can be out of our control. Sometimes, it is because the items we buy are already pre-packaged, such as the vegetables found in supermarkets, which come in clear plastic bags. This plastic cannot be recycled and end up as waste in our bins. If waste like these is unavoidable, what we can do is to reuse them!

You can use these items to pick up your pet’s poop. Alternatively, you can even use big leaves that you find, and simply slide them under your pet when he/she is about to poop! As long as you wrap it up nicely (so the smell doesn’t spread after throwing the poop), almost anything can be used!

 

Tip 3: Turn to eco-friendly toys, accessories and treats

If you enjoy spoiling your pet with toys and treats, how about turning to eco-friendly alternatives?

There are many pet accessories and toys that can be found online, and they are often made from recycled or plant-based materials. Alternatively, consider upcycling your old clothes and turn them into new toys! Check out this link for some inspirations!

As for treats, consider giving them small portions of fresh fruits or vegetables, or even baking/cooking treats from scratch! These options are much healthier for your pet and they will still love eating them equally. However, please do proper research on exactly what your pet can/cannot eat.

 

It can sometimes get a little tiring to take care of our pets, but they are a lifetime commitment and we should never compromise their well-being. The same applies to take care of Mother Earth! Green practices are often less convenient but every small step will go a long way into improving her well-being. Try tying more environmentally-friendly habits into the different aspects of our daily lives and the caring of your pets is somewhere you can start!  If you happen to have any other tips, how about sharing them with us? 🙂

Sustainable Living

Zero-Waste Gift Recommendations for this Valentine’s Day

Pssst, just between you and me, are you still figuring out what to get for your loved one on Valentine’s Day? Fret not, we are here to help you! Valentine’s Day is not purely about purchasing something new for your loved one. You can come up with many creative and useful gifts for them!

Deciding on the perfect gift for your loved ones can be quite tricky so we both tips and zero-waste gift recommendations for you!

 

Tips

 

Arrange a date near memorable places

Honestly, what can get better than revisiting various fond memories you made with your loved one? It can be the place where both of you had your first date, where both of you met or even just the go-to area you both hold dear.

Remember: Valentine’s Day comes only once a year, so it would definitely not hurt to go back and relive some of those precious memories made!

Make a card

Not only are handmade cards great in showcasing your appreciation as well as sincerity for your significant other, but you can also churn out your own unique card! Decorate your card with different memories (eg. polaroids and various memorable items) as well as a heartfelt handwritten message and it will definitely make your partner’s day! Not to mention, you can use what you have at home to showcase your creative side.

If you need a little inspiration, check out how others reuse materials at home to make their cards! Some use scrap cloth and paper to decorate and make their card! You can get creative and add more as you go to make your card truly one of a kind! To get a better understanding of how to do it, you can check out this site here!

 

Do something meaningful together

Lastly, consider volunteering together! There are tons of areas both of you can extend a hand to so do not worry, there is an event for everyone! Perhaps, your significant other is more into the environment. Well, both of you can take up a volunteering event relating to the environment to not only help out for a good cause, but it also serves as a type of bonding time where both of you can learn why and how passionate your partner is in certain areas!

For one, you can consider joining Youth Corps’ first-ever Veggie Rescue journey with SG Food Rescue with your partner! Not only is this educational and for a good cause, but you also get to see and experience with your partner how this goes, making it extra memorable!

 

Gifts 

So, if you really feel the need to gift your loved one something for this special day, we have some items that would be practical for him or her!

For the Coffee or Tea drinker

Is your partner one of those people who needs caffeine every day in order to kickstart their day? Well, why not give them a reusable cup to not only help their caffeine addiction but also to reduce waste on the side?

We recommend the SoL Cups which come in different sizes and beautiful colours for the caffeine lovers. We also carry Reusable Teabags for the tea drinker, so they can enjoy a cup of tea without any plastic involved.

 

Not forgetting the Bubble Tea lover

If your significant other buy bubble tea on a regular basis, why not give them something to help them cut out the plastic cup holders you often get from buying bubble tea or even other drinks? We carry Cup Holders in different cute designs! (You will be pleased to know we tested them on different vendors, and they are expected to fit all cup sizes!)

 

Spoil them with your cooking

Why not try cooking up a new recipe for them to try? Preparing as well as actually cooking something takes up a lot of effort as well as care! So, to be able to taste your cooking on such an important day, they are guaranteed to feel your overflowing love for them!

To start, you can source at your local wet market for fresh produce! To make this an extra special meal, try using ugly but absolutely still good-tasting ingredients for your meal! Perfectly usable vegetables such as carrots are frequently discarded just because they are deemed too ‘ugly’ to sell.

Not only that, you can plan a picnic date at the park, taking in nature while snacking on delicious food. You know what they always say, the way to one’s heart is through their stomach! You can also check out our store for products such as our Snack Bags or if you prefer the sturdy Stasher Bags for bringing your delicious treats on the go! For bigger meals, we recommend getting the spacious Stackable Bento Box!

 

Adding to their beauty routine

Taking off your makeup to shower before getting ready for bed has such an incredible, soothing feeling to it. It’s almost as if you are washing and taking off the stress accumulated for the day, prepping a fresh new start. So why not consider gifting your loved one a zero-waste gift that will help them relax as well as cut down on the number of disposables used in their everyday beauty routine?

Our reusable Facial Rounds are here to help minimise wastage while aiding in your beauty routine! You can use them to apply toner or take out your makeup after a long day, but best of all, it is perfectly reusable and easy to clean! (Just chuck it in the wash and set it to ‘delicate’.)

 

Enhancing their bathing experience

Speaking of showers, I think everyone can agree that nothing is better than a bath after a long day of work. So why not gift them something that would greatly enhance their usual bathroom routine?

We carry Felted Soaps and it cleans like a dream! Not only does it come in different scents so you can do your picking, it is wrapped in Merino Silk wool blend which makes it an excellent natural exfoliant. (Bye bye, loofah!) Not to mention, it looks absolutely gorgeous, making it the perfect gift for anyone looking to spice up their bathroom routine.

 

To sum up, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy a zero-waste Valentine’s Day with your partner but ultimately, what really makes the day special is the effort and sincerity from both parties. So don’t be stressed and just have fun with your partner!

Sustainable Living

2019 Green Year’s Resolution

Looking back at 2018, I think we can all agree that 2018 marked the spark of something new. With Singapore naming it as the Year of Climate Action, the widespread adoption of banning plastic straws and lids and the evident green movement growing within Singapore, this is without a doubt, THE ‘eco-conscious’ year. It really heartens me to see that we are finally talking about the environment and taking more action overall. With 2018 finally coming to an end, let us not only celebrate this win for our community but also reflect on the next action to take for 2019.

The switch from disposables to reusables do indeed contribute to sustainability but let us all keep in mind that another highly contributing factor to climate change is – buying more than what you need. Just take a look at the changing dates of the Earth Overshoot Days for the past few years. The date marks when the annual demand for goods and services has surpassed the earth’s ability to regenerate new resources. The fact that the date comes a little bit earlier with each passing year is great evidence that we have overconsumed beyond the earth’s limits.

Thus, why not go one step further this year by making one of our new year’s resolution to consume mindfully. It might be a tough challenge to change a high-consumption lifestyle, but here are some beginning tips that can help along the way:

 

Determine if it is a need or a want.

We can all agree that we get really excited when we see a new product. I’m guilty of this and it is after all human nature! But, hold that thought. Before purchasing the product, why not take a step back to reflect upon the urgency of purchasing it. Ask yourself, will I really use this product frequently? Is this purchased for naught? Do I not have an item at home that can be used to serve the function I am looking for?

For example, before picking up that straw set, ask yourself: do you really need 1 straight straw, 1 bent straw and 1 bubble tea straw even if it’s all at a discounted price? Can’t you just get a single bubble tea straw to fit your needs then, since they are all well, straws?

Simply by taking a step back and reconsidering can help you determine if it is a need or a want!

 

Finding out how your products are made. 

If we all just purchased products of an unsustainable origin, it will just give companies a reason to continue through with exploiting our environment and producing unsustainably. That more than often gives out nasty byproducts into the atmosphere such as air pollution and more! It is important for us to recognise our power as a consumer. We have the power to make a change by our choices!

So why not, go the extra step to find out if your products are sustainably made or not? Just spend a little bit more time researching or reading up on how the product is being made and what materials are present in the product, can help you make a more informed decision!

By selecting a more sustainable product, it encourages companies who are doing it right. At the same time, it sends the message to companies that consumers are now watching what moves they are making, positive and negative, for our environment which will more than likely further encourage those companies to switch to a more sustainable approach to producing their goods.

 

Make sure you utilise it as much as possible!

Remember: even if your product was not purchased out of impulse and is produced sustainably if you don’t use it as much, it will likely have only a minor impact on our environment. To encourage usage of your products, do look upon the different options available and compare the pros and cons of using each product!

The ultimate goal is for you to choose a product that you see yourself using for many years or even a lifetime. The product should be able to fit perfectly in your life and bring you more conveniences than troubles. Don’t forget to factor your personal preference into this as well! Don’t worry, getting one made less sustainably but it’s something you are definitely going to enjoy beats everything!

With the year coming to an end and 2019 being the Year of Zero Waste, we hope these tips can help you achieve that goal and aid towards consuming mindfully for 2019 (and for life!).

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!

Sustainable Living

Top 3 Most Useful Zero Waste Christmas Products

This is the season for Christmas shopping! Christmas is finally around the corner! But wait a minute. Have you ever wondered if your presents will be used by the recipient or stowed into the recesses of their home? This Christmas, why not choose something practical and useful, knowing it will be used for the long run? Give your loved one the gift of sustainability!

Here are 3 practical zero waste products that everyone can cherish and are ideal to inspire the start of a zero-waste journey:

 

Beeswax Wraps

If you’ve always wanted to incorporate zero-waste goods into the lives of others but don’t know how to, beeswax wraps are the perfect item to start! They are the ultimate zero-waste must have.

Made of 4 ingredients – cotton cloth, beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin – beeswax wraps are a perfect substitute for plastic cling wrap. Reusable for a year, it means you will not have to spend another day cursing that you forgot to buy cling wrap again. You can finally say goodbye to spending money on purchasing something which keeps running out and is damaging to the environment.

Using Beeswax is a bit like going back in time to find out that our ancestors did it better than us. Beeswax wraps weres invented long ago by the ancient Egyptians. Back then, they had to be creative without our present luxury of refrigerators. Moving forward a few centuries later, we have all but forgotten this natural means of preserving food. Instead, we have begun a deep reliance on cling wrap, a synthetic material that brings more harms than good.

Cling wrap is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is non-recyclable and non-renewable. The use of PVC creates multiple problems for our earth. Its production is not only carbon intensive but also pollutive. Furthermore, PVC’s non-biodegradable nature means that they will end up in our landfills after just one single use.

On the other hand, beeswax wrap has a much shorter lifespan. Because the shorter the lifespan, the better it is for the environment! Not only is it both biodegradable and compostable, but it can also be used many times!

Is it any different from cling wrap? Not at all! Just wrap your unfinished/untouched/ food and voila! It will keep it fresh. But do take note of, beeswax wraps cannot be used to wrap hot items and raw meat/fish/seafood. Do remember to take care of your beeswax and it will thank you by lasting longer! Clean it with a damp cloth after every use or just rinse it with cold water. Then, let it air dry and it can be reused hooray!

 

Stasher Bags

We are not going to lie; the Stasher bag is amazing. It has so many uses, and we are always discovering new ways to use them. It is a simple silicone bag that is literally safe for anything – dishwasher, freezer, oven and even the microwave. You can reuse it endlessly, so it’s here for a long time.

Stasher bag is suitable to freeze bananas for your morning smoothie, to use as a snack bag, store fruit (pretty perfect for sliced watermelon) etc. You can even use it for your toiletries when travelling. It is perfect for the tired you lugging around multiple bags of leakable products. As it is equipped with a Pinch-loc™ seal, it will not leak.

Not convinced? Check out this article which lists all the uses of a stasher bag!

But you get the jazz, there’s no way this bag is going to be forgotten in a cupboard. Because once you stash(er) it, you can’t go back! Also, washing the Stasher bag is easy. Simply fill the bag a 1/4th of the way with warm water and soap and giving shake it or using a brush can help too!

 

Bamboo Toothbrush

This is the one everyone actually needs. Unless for some obscure reasons you don’t brush your teeth…

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that our continuous toothbrush consumption actually harms Mother Earth. For most of us, we use plastic and non-recyclable toothbrushes. Little did you realize that all of your plastic toothbrushes are going to live a longer life than your whole family.
Kind of sad right? But you can do a little something for the future generations and for Mama Nature, by replacing your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo toothbrush.

Bamboo is a miracle product, it is so handy that they have even made a school out of it in Bali. Not cool enough? PANDAS eat bamboo, and if pandas are eating it then bamboo is life. (But please be reassured that the bamboo harvested for our toothbrush does not affect the pandas in any way!) Oh, and did we mention bamboo absorbs large amounts of carbon too?

You will definitely be making a substantial switch in your life.  After your bristles have been worn out, do remember to pluck them out and compost the bamboo handle.

 

Sustainable Living

Your New Best Friend – Menstrual Cup

Menstrual cup. A word that is no longer an unknown concept to most women in Singapore. A word that to this day is still a topic that most of us shy away from. A word that possesses potentially great power to contribute to the conservation to the environment.

We recently sat down with Pritha, founder of the Soul Cup, to share with us her experience of incorporating the menstrual cup into her life. Pritha’s experience with menstrual cups started about 5 years back – when it was not much heard of in Singapore. After seeing an advertisement for menstrual cups in 2013, she had it shipped from the US. As she was travelling around India and South East Asia for work, she was willing to try anything that would make her period more comfortable. Since then, she became a menstrual cup ambassador, working to spread the message and awareness of the menstrual cup and making it more accessible to women in Singapore.

While there are many reasons to “cup-vert”, here are a few of Pritha’s personal favourite reasons:

1. You Do Not Feel Anything and You Can Do Anything You Want With It

The most commonly asked question about a menstrual cup is, “Don’t you feel it in your body?”. Believe it or not, the answer is no! As the menstrual cup only comes in contact with the area free of sensory nerves, there is little to no feeling when you are wearing it. Sometimes, you might even forget that you are wearing it, unlike the usual pads that hang beneath you. But do remember to give the cups a wash, no matter any circumstances, before using them.

Furthermore, wearing sanitary pads limits your movement and activities. You cannot swim and it feels uncomfortable playing nearly any sport. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, give you the liberty to swim, do yoga, play sports and do whatever you are comfortable doing on your periods.

2. Free of Chemicals!

Most pads and tampons use toxic and harmful chemicals for absorption. Certain tests reveal that high absorbent pads may contain dioxins, synthetic fibres and petrochemical additives. Chlorine bleach is also often used to give pads and tampons the super “white and clean” look. So, it is might not the wisest choice to use these items for your intimates.  A menstrual cup is made of medical grade silicone which is relatively more inert and doesn’t react with your body.

3. Easy to Clean like ABC

How to wash your menstrual cups? Well, it is done in 1 to 2 simple steps!

As your body fluids do not stick easily to the cups, they can be washed out with water. Flush the cup with water down into the toilet or the shower and you are good to use it again.

If you are emptying and reinserting your menstrual cup in a public toilet, you can clean it with some water (just carry a small bottle) or special menstrual cup wipes or clean toilet paper before reinserting it.

4. Killing Two Birds in One Stone – Benefits the Environment and Your Pocket

A menstrual cup is reusable and hence you need to buy just 1 and you can use it for up to 10 years. Not only do you no longer have to pay for every period, but you also reduce waste that goes directly into the . Given that you use a menstrual cup for 10 years, you could save over thousands of pads / tampons from going into landfill and you can do the math on how much money that saves you over 10 years. Savings are definitely much more than the initial investment in the menstrual cup!

 

Convinced to become a cup-vert now? Soul Cup is giving you a special discount of $5 off your menstrual cup purchase. Simply head over to the website here and key in the code SUSTAIN5 for your discount. If you have more questions about the menstrual cup, head over to our Facebook page and drop us a message! We love answering all your questions, no matter how basic or silly they may seem.

 

Sustainable Living

Your Guide to Purchasing Reusable Straw

A worldwide war has been declared against an item that no one considered about its harm previously. Plastic. An evident movement has been taking place both locally and internationally with bans against it. In our little red dots, numerous cafés have stopped serving with straws and other F&Bs have put a ban on them. Hence, sparking a new revolution – Reusable straws.

The term reusable straw is no longer a stranger to us. They come in many forms and materials – bamboo, stainless steel, glass and silicon. It is also evident that due to the demand of these straws, the number of organisations selling reusable straw in Singapore has been growing exponentially over the past few months. With a price range from as low as $1 to as high as $13, your quest for a straw can be easily fulfilled.

But hold that thought! Do you really need that straw? Is it a want or a need? Which straw should you get? Just before you purchase it, here are some things to take into consideration before buying your first one!

 

Is it a need or a want? Think twice before purchasing.

The claim on whether the purchase of a reusable straw is a hype may or may not be true. Hence, the best action to do as a consumer is to evaluate the reason for purchasing the straw and to educate yourself on why you need a straw. Straws are usually used by various groups such as those with sensitive teeth, children, the disabled or those who do not wish to stain their teeth by liquids such as coffee or tea. Most of the time, using a straw is not necessary unless you are drinking thicker liquids (etc milkshake, fruit juice) or drinks with toppings in them (etc bubble tea, fruit tea).

 

It is an investment. You are making a commitment.

Once you have gotten the straw, you need to be aware that it is a lifelong commitment that you have taken. Take a straw as a pet. You need to take care of it, maintain it, bring it out and clean it for many years, most likely even a lifetime. The worse thing to do it probably to abandon it after a few months or years.

The production of a reusable straw requires more resources as compared to a plastic straw. Hence, it will be contradictory if you purchase one and do not commit to using it as the number of resources extracted to produce that reusable straw might actually cause more harm than using a plastic straw.

So, if you do not foresee yourself putting in that amount of effort, then maybe you would like to put that reusable straw down.

 

Educate yourself! Know the variation available in the market and their features.

So which straw should you get? With the large variety available in the market, it is difficult to make a decision sometimes. Each straw has their pros and cons and we shall explain them based on our understanding!

Bamboo straw:

These are the 100% natural option which is biodegradable and compostable. They are kid friendly as well! But do take note that in order to clean them, you need to boil them with vinegar water on a monthly basis. Sometimes, due to Singapore’s humidity, these straws are prone to growing mould easily. Hence, do make sure you keep them dry after washing!

Borosilicate glass straw:

Maintenance and hygiene are not much of an issue for these straws. When you are washing them, you can see the interior of the straws which help you to identify any dirt or remnants. Borosilicate glass is also known for being lightweight and can withstand hot and cold temperatures. However, taking into consideration that it is glass, there is still the possibility of them breaking if you are ever careless!

Stainless Steel straw:

These straws do not have any issue in terms of hygiene or durability. For cleaning, you just have to wash them with a cleaning brush. In terms of durability, they are not expected to break.

As a consumer, do note on the quality of the stainless steel that you are purchasing. One of the most common stainless steel grade is 304 or otherwise known as 18/8 (which contains 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel). 304 can withstand corrosion from most oxidizing acids and its durability makes it easy to sanitize. It is commonly used kitchen and food applications; in buildings, décor, and site furnishings.

 

You got your straw! Now, onto the next step.

Your sustainable lifestyle does not just stop at straws but instead starts from it. Now that you have replaced the small plastic item in your life, look at other areas that you can make simple changes. For example, making the effort to bring your bottle in addition to bringing your straw. A simple action does help a lot one way or another!

The most impactful plastic switch of all might actually be plastic bags, with Singapore plastic addiction no longer being something in secret. Find small and simple ways to reduce your overall consumption of disposable and help Mother Earth by being a conscious consumer! Trust us, the future generation will thank you for that 😉

Sustainable Living

How to be a Zero Waste Book Lover

As a bibliomaniac, we know the struggle faced while trying to lead a zero-waste lifestyle. To desire to be able to read as many books as you wish to and at the same time, lead a sustainable lifestyle. To resist the urge of purchasing that new book to add into your ever-growing collection of book.

But fret not! Here are some tips on how to be sustainable while being able to gobble those books like no one’s business! (Based on our own experiences 😉 )

 

Go back to the basics – Borrow

The very first step we all can do is simply to borrow books! Head down to your nearest public library and browse through the wide selection it has to offer. With 27 public libraries spread across Singapore, these are easily accessible to all of us! If you are a student, head over to your school library and enjoy the resources you can tap on.

Besides borrowing from the library, you can borrow from your friends or family members!

 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure – Preloved Books

Preloved books are another considerate way to prevent books from going into the landfills. In Singapore, there are so many platforms that allow you to purchase second-hand books. These books are usually in good condition and come at very affordable prices, ranging from $5 to $10!

For physical shops, you can check out:

  • Bookwhale: A newly launched online marketplace that makes buying and selling pre-loved books easy! They provide a scan-to-list method and direct shipping services to readers for a much better experience. In addition, they have teamed up with various cafes to place a collection of books in which you can take, donate or swap.
  • Bras Basah Complex: There are at least 3 -4 shops dedicated to selling pre-loved books!
  • Carousell: Needless to say, we are well aware that carousell has a wide range of preloved books waiting for you to bring them home!
  • Dignity Mama Stall: An initiative of Project Dignity Pte Ltd for youths with special needs, Dignity Mama Stall allow mum to co-work with their children and equips youth with the skills to run and manage a stall. All of the pre-loved books sold are donated, sorted and priced reasonably to generate income.

 

Swap them all!

Swapping is the new buying. Besides borrowing and purchasing, why not do a book swap? Swap your personal collections with others and also get a glimpse into their personal collections.

Some books swapping groups in Singapore include:

  • Books & Beer: One of the most established book swaps in Singapore, Books & Beer has been around since June 2011. Book swaps are organised once every two months and typically takes place over three hours during a weekend, at a centrally-located F&B venue. While the swop is on-going, attendees will typically purchase a drink or two, engage in conversation with new friends, read a new book they’ve picked up…
  • The Book Swap Club: Primarily a book-swapping group, this club might engage in some form of socialising while swapping and maybe even discuss the books we intend to exchange. It will not be like other book/reading clubs where you get together to discuss a particular book, but it’s meant for you to refresh your library with other books you have not read. They meet every 2 months at a convenient location, usually in town after work.
  • Facebook Group (Singapore Books Free Used Buy Sell Swap Exchange Fiction NonFiction): With about 500 members on board, this Facebook Group is a platform for you to swap, sell, exchange any types of books!

 

Go Digital

As much as we are heading towards a digital society, you can participate too with books! But before you purchase a Kindle or any other forms of e-reader, do think twice!  According to one life-cycle analysis of printed books versus e-readers, the energy, water, and raw materials needed to make a single e-reader is equal to that of 40-to-50 books. In terms of the effect on the climate, the emissions created by a single e-reader are equal to roughly 100 books.   Hence, only if you are very sure that you are an avid reader, then go ahead and get that e-reader.

An alternative? Why not borrow e-books from the National Library? Did you know, NLB ebooks can be browsed and searched via eReads? Each book can be borrowed for a period of about 21 days. Not only does it save you the money from spending on an e-reader, it also allows you to enjoy a wide range of books!

 

Know of any other ways to be a sustainable book lover? Share them with us!

Sustainable Living

A Peek Into Veganism

The ‘V’ word – a word so sensitive or controversial. A lifestyle that was previously labelled extreme, entirely alien, preachy and associated with hippies, is now being viewed with a more positive lens and becoming more commonplace in society. Yes, you guessed it right, this ‘V’ word stands for Vegan.

In the last 3 years, there has been a 600% increase in the number of people who identify as a vegan in the U.S and in the UK, this figure was at 350%. For this little red dot, Veganism is growing as well. Singapore currently ranks 6th on the Happy Cow app for the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, with 40 fully vegan restaurants and 590 vegan/ vegetarian-friendly places!

So, what does being vegan actually mean? There is a difference between a vegan lifestyle and a vegan diet. A vegan diet is a plant-based diet, one which excludes the consumption of any animal product and byproduct. This includes meat, eggs, dairy products and honey. On the other hand, a vegan lifestyle is all-encompassing and includes living compassionately not just through one’s diet, but also by not supporting animal cruelty in the purchase of any product.

By now, many questions will probably have popped up in your mind: What can you even eat? Where do you get your protein? Isn’t it expensive? Isn’t hard to become vegan?  Well, here are some of the most commonly asked questions being answered by our writer, Jasmine Hussain!

What can you eat?

As a vegan, there is an abundance of food that you can eat! This is a huge common misconception that people have about the vegan diet. Once they hear the words ‘no meat’, a blank appears in their heads and they are presented with the toughest challenge of having to think of what other than a salad can vegans eat.

Rice, potatoes, pasta, beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses – the supermarket is your oyster! (perhaps inappropriate for a vegan). Going vegan does not mean having to give up all your favourite foods. Think of any dish and you can probably find a vegan recipe for it online. You’ll even find new favourite foods when you go vegan!

Your options are limitless when it comes to vegan food and if you do live in Singapore, it’s basically vegan paradise.

Where do you get your protein?

Contrary to popular belief, being protein deficient is really only seen in people who are malnutrition or people who are suffering from a calorie deficit. All plant foods have protein and there is no need to go out of your way to find ‘sources’ of protein. When it comes to greens, spinach, broccoli, kale and even peas are great sources of protein. Nuts, seeds, legumes e.g. chickpeas, lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh and even oats are excellent sources of protein. Even fruits have protein! I can go on for ages, but I’m just making the point that you will never miss out on protein when you go vegan.

Isn’t it expensive?

No, it is not. Do not be fooled by all the superfoods out there, which many restaurants, cafes and YouTubers use in preparing their vegan meals. There is no need for you to buy quinoa, chia seeds, coconut oil, cold-pressed juices or acai powder. In fact, being vegan is often much cheaper than adopting an omnivore’s diet because a plant-based diet consisting mostly of fruits, vegetables and grains cost less than one that incorporates meat. You can lead an equally healthy vegan diet and get in all your daily nutritional requirements without all these expensive superfoods.

Meat substitutes and dairy-free products such as nut milks and yoghurts, and soy-based cheese are more expensive than your regular meat and dairy products, however, these are not necessary items for one’s pantry. These are the products often used in restaurants and cafes trying to appeal to the consumer market with their unique and creative vegan dishes, which explains why vegan restaurants or cafes are often more expensive.

On a more positive note, prices for these products are in fact falling due to the rising demand for vegan products and the fact that more people are adopting a vegan diet. Hooray!

Don’t you miss eating meat?

For me, not at all. I don’t miss meat, not one bit. This was because I felt too strongly about my values and beliefs and couldn’t possibly bear the idea of having to eat meat ever again knowing how harmful it was to the environment and to the animals. When eating out, I will always search for the menu online and check if there are any vegan options available. When there aren’t any obvious options, I will then look for options that I can make vegan.

For example, when going to a pizza place, just ask for a pizza without cheese and a whole bunch of vegetables on it (mushrooms, pineapple, spinach, peppers etc., these are all ingredients that the pizzeria already has), of course first making sure that the base has no dairy, which is usually the case. Small changes like this could easily make many non-vegan dishes vegan and if you are not sure about it, simply call the restaurant in advance and ask if there is something they can do. More often that not, they will be more than willing to help. In the rare case that there is absolutely nothing for you to eat, don’t ever feel shy about bringing your own food to the restaurant after letting them know your reasons why (this has never happened in my experience), or simply ask your friend or family to change the location of the restaurant.

Isn’t it hard to become vegan?

It has been just short of three years of my journey as a vegan and it has been a truly exciting and inspiring one. I have become the most compassionate version of myself, my skin has never been so clear (cutting out dairy really helps) and food has just become so much more exciting because vegan cuisine is remarkably experimental and creative and you can honestly find a vegan version of every food item on the market – well in my experience at least.

However, I must say that my transition into veganism has been a rather smooth sailing because I had the advantage of moving away from home to an amazing city that is incredibly vegan friendly and to an environment where I had the privilege of cooking for myself and therefore not trouble my family to make adjustments for my diet.

At the same time, I am blessed with an amazing, supportive family that is proud of me for making this change and has never made me feel like I was being difficult for going vegan. They did question my decision initially, but only out of concern that I would not be able to get all the nutrients required to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. However, after doing research, I was able to confidently present my case of how I would be able to nourish myself well and even become healthier than I was before. Today, my family actually enjoys making vegan dishes for me at home and we enjoy exploring the countless number of vegan restaurants and cafes in Singapore.

As you can see, being vegan is not so bad after all! For those who want to try it out, the change does not have to be drastic, it could simply be in the form of meatless Mondays or simply swapping the dairy milk for a nut milk like soy milk in your oatmeals or cereals. There is so much inspiration online – YouTube, Pinterest or just Google for easy tips on how small changes could veganise your regular meals. Help make the world a better place by eating lower down on the food chain, after all, being vegan is the single biggest thing one can do to combat climate change.

To finish off, I must highlight that being vegan is not the only dietary change you can make to combat climate change. Eating lower down on the food chain does make an impact and this could simply be in the form of meat-free Mondays, or eating red meat only once a week. It is not feasible for everyone to become vegan, in fact, it is impossible. But if everyone played a part in making small dietary changes, this would without a doubt accumulate to a significant positive impact on our environment.

Sustainable Living

Going Green This Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year – one of our favourite festive season whereby we get to eat so many delicious snacks, collect red packets and reunite with family members! It is definitely a time of celebration, but similar to every other festive season, unnecessary waste is always created in the midst of celebration. So how do you minimise your environmental impact while at the same time, enjoy this holiday without a sense of guilt?

Here are some tips on how to go green this Chinese New Year.

Good as new notes

When distributing the red packet, it is a practice to ensure that the notes are new. People would spend weeks preceding Chinese New Year to queue at the banks in order to obtain new notes as old or torn notes are regarded as being disrespectful.

Instead of using more resources to generate these new notes, have you ever considered using “good as new” notes? POSB and DBS customers are able to withdraw these notes at 36 various pop up POSB Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Now, you no longer have to feel guilty about the number of trees being felled just to print all those new notes!

Recycle them all!

During this season, a lot of unnecessary waste will be created from the red packets to the soft drinks and to the plastic containers being used to store those snacks. It is undeniable that there is not yet a zero waste alternative for all these items. Hence, the next best alternative is to ensure that we recycle as much as we can. Remember to recycle all the red packets, soft drink cans and bottles, plastic containers and tetra packs that you can find. Always remember that a small action is better than no action!

Shop like new

New clothes are another tradition of Chinese New Year. But instead of purchasing brand new clothes, why not shop like brand new with secondhand clothes? Refash, a secondhand shop, is having their Chinese New Year final sale with a wide range of clothing from popular brands such as Love Bonito, The Closet Lover and so on. Plus, with the prices being so affordable, you can feel good and save money at the same time!

Give your items a second life

So after spring cleaning your house and accumulating a huge mass of unwanted items, you might wonder to yourself “What should I do with these now?”. Well, give them a second life!

EcoBank is a national zero-waste campaign that provides a platform for you to give your pre-loved items a second lease of life, encourage responsible consumption and do your part for charity. Between March 2 – March 4 this year, EcoBank is welcoming donations of good condition toys, clothes, books and accessories through 7 pick up points across Singapore. Your donated items will be curated and sold at the EcoBank Bazaar, with 100% of the proceeds going to The Children’s Charities Association of Singapore (CCA). Unsold items will go to CCA and the MINDS Thrift Shop to benefit their fundraising efforts.

So what are you waiting for? Do good and donate these items to them!

 

There are so many more other ways to go green this Chinese New Year. Share with us your green steps taken during this festive season!