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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!

Sustainable Living

A Guide To Sustainable Shopping

We all love shopping. It is one of the greatest weakness, especially for us – girls. While trying to attempt to live this zero-waste lifestyle, the temptation from shopping for clothes is especially great. From receiving emails from various shops about their sales to seeing brand new styles at shopping centres, the struggle is real.

So, how then do we prevent textile waste when faced with such great temptations? Here are some tips from our personal experience!

 

Know WHY NOT

You might regard it as only one pair of jeans. But did you know, it takes about 8,000 litres of water just to make one pair? That’s enough to fill almost 20 bathtubs! Not to mention, the cotton used to make jeans uses 2.4% of the world’s cropland and 24% of the world’s pesticide. How scary is that!

In Singapore, more than 156,000 tonnes of textile and leather waste was thrown away in 2016, but only a mere 8% of such waste is recycled. Based on a Channel NewsAsia documentary, Singaporeans buy about 34 pieces of brand new apparel per year, with almost half of them citing discounts as the main driver for doing so. And on average, they discard 27 items of clothing per year, citing reasons like “making space for new clothes”, “no longer fits” and “there are defects”.

To prevent yourself from contributing to unnecessary waste, you need to be equipped with the knowledge and be aware of how buying one piece of clothing can have a huge impact on the environment. It helps you to see how one little action can have a big impact!

So, always think twice before buying that piece of clothing that you thought was harmless!

 

Make a plan

To slowly reduce the amount of textile waste you are creating, it is not something that happens overnight. It is a step by step process and you first have to acknowledge that it will be a painful and difficult process. Making a plan is crucial and it doesn’t matter whether it will take months or years to achieve the goal, as long as you have a plan, it is better than nothing!

First of all, you need to track the amount of clothing you buy every month. By doing this, you will be aware of your consumption habit and it will be easier to monitor your reduction. Then, start setting a limit on the number of clothing you can purchase every month. One tip is before buying a new piece of clothing, evaluate if you have any similar pieces of clothing in your current wardrobe or if it is possible to borrow a similar top from your mother or sister. If it is a “yes”, then put that piece of clothing away!

It is also important to ensure that you practice self-control and stay away from any possible temptation. When you are able to make small progress towards working the final goal of eliminating your textile waste, be sure to reward yourself (with food)! We know it isn’t easy and by rewarding yourself, it serves as a form of encouragement to continue working towards the end goal.

 

Practice self-control

This might be the most difficult aspect as we are most likely being tempted from every corner of our lives. Our best practice is out of sight, out of mind. So, whenever there is a possible temptation, try to distance yourself from it and rationalise internally if it is a need or a want(Trust us, most of the time it will be a want.). It is also a good habit to constantly remind yourself of the long-term effects of a small act of purchasing a new top. It might seem trivial, but if you consider all the resources taken to make a single piece of clothing, it will definitely make you reconsider.

 

Shop Secondhand

If you really have the urge to shop and cannot stop yourself, why not try second-hand shopping? It helps you save money, save resources and be a better person. So, why not!

Our favourite is Refash, an exclusive online marketplace for women to buy and sell “like new” fashion. Members can list items straight from their wardrobes and shop up to 70% off their favourite fast fashion and luxury brands. It has many popular brands such as Love Bonito, Forever21, The Closet Lover, Forever New and a lot more. So, you no longer have to worry about having the same old few pieces of clothes in your wardrobe!

Sustainable Living

All About The Humble Brush

Toothbrush – a daily essential that everyone has to use for good health.

But little did anyone expect that a small plastic toothbrush can cause so much harm to the environment. The world consumes 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes annually and most of them end of in the landfill. In the United States, an estimate of 850 million to over a billion toothbrushes are discarded annually and that amounts to more than 50 mullion pounds of waste.

Can you imagine the amount of waste produced from this small equipment? By replacing your usual plastic toothbrush into a bamboo toothbrush, you can help to fight climate change through this small action.

One of the products on our online store is the bamboo toothbrush from The Humble Co. and here are a few benefits of the products:

 

It is developed by dentists

Humble Brush was conceived, designed and is now manufactured under the guidance and supervision of dentists. This help to ensure that the product is similar to the plastic toothbrush in terms of functionality and quality.

 

100% biodegradable bamboo

The handle of the toothbrush is made of bamboo which naturally provides a non-slip surface and even better, is 100% biodegradable. In addition, bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth and since it is antibacterial, no pesticides or fertilisers have to be used during cultivation!

 

Degradable and BPA-Free bristles

All brushes are made of Nylon 6 which degrades faster than lower grades of nylon.  Nylon 6 is a material ideally suited for dentistry but also degrades over time and can be processed through regular waste channels. The bristles have also been verified to be free from the toxin BPA (Bisphenol A).

 

Lifespan

The Humble Brushes have the same lifespan as any plastic toothbrush so you do not have to worry about the issue of constant replacement.

 

Compostable packaging

Besides providing a toothbrush which is sustainable in nature, the brush will be packaged in a transparent and biodegradable wrapper made completely out of plants and a box made out of 100% recycled materials.

 

With that, there simply are no other reasons not to switch to a sustainable bamboo toothbrush. Click here to purchase them!

Sustainable Living

5 Essentials You Need To Embark On A Zero Waste Lifestyle

The term “zero waste lifestyle” is one that is commonly being used now to describe one who leads a lifestyle that aims to create no waste at all.

Some might think, is that even possible? How do they do it? Well, for those of you who are interested in leading this lifestyle or simply trying it out, here are the 5 essential items you need to help you lead a zero-waste lifestyle!

 

1. Stainless Steel Straws

By now, I think most of us know that #plasticstrawsucks. If one was to use a plastic straw every day for the next ten years, there would be 3,650 straws worth of landfill! It is time to switch to a more environmentally friendly alternative – metal straws.

Metal straws are reusable and can last for ages if properly taken care of. Be reassured that it is easy to clean a stainless steel straw, with a cleaning brush, dishwasher or soap. As compared to plastic straws, stainless steel straws are BPA free and safe to use. They also make your picture look more stylish and chic!

Purchase them here!

2. Stainless Steel Container

If you always buy takeaways, you should be aware of the amount of Styrofoam and plastic containers that are used to store your food. Some plastic containers may even leak out harmful substances due to the heat! Did you know that more and more research is proving that toxic compounds found in plastic cause health problems ranging from cancer to infertility.

So why are you not using stainless steel containers? They are durable, non-toxic, completely recyclable and less wasteful. Hence, making them a much healthier and better option as compared to plastic containers.

Purchase them here!

3. Reusable Tumbler

For coffee/tea lovers, this item is a must-have! Reusable tumblers allow you to keep the beverages hot for a long period of time, reduce your plastic waste and even save money (as some vendors offer a discount for bringing your own). Coupled with the fact that bottled water costs 2,000 times more than tap water, save your money and bring your own bottle instead!

4. Reusable bags

It has been estimated that by purchasing a reusable bag and using them every time, it eliminates the use of 20,000 disposable plastic bags! The production of plastic bags requires the burning of fossil fuels which is causing climate change. By using a reusable bag, you are reducing your environmental footprint.  Think about the big picture and avoid plastic bags, even when they are free of charge.

5. Bamboo Toothbrush

It is now a well-known fact of how harmful plastic is to the environment. But little did we expect that the toiletries item we use every day, our toothbrush, can bring so much harm! The world consumes an estimate of more than 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes every year, in which most of them end up in landfills and oceans.

So, you might be thinking, why don’t I just recycle them? Unfortunately, toothbrushes are one of the most complicated items for recycling because of the need to separate each component before recycling.

The alternative to these arisamboo toothbrushes that will help to reduce the damage being done by this household items. Hence, being more environmentally responsible as well.

Purchase them here!