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Sustainable Living

All About The Zero Waste Hierarchy

The term “Zero Waste” is no longer a stranger to all of us. Over the years, leading a zero waste life has been advocated by numerous environmentally conscious individuals worldwide. But how exactly do you achieve it? Here are some facts about the zero waste hierarchy and tips on how each level is practiced!

The zero waste hierarchy is defined as the “progression of policies and strategies to support the Zero Waste system, from highest and best to lowest use of materials”. The 5 levels are: Reduce (Most preferred), Reuse, Recycle, Recover and Landfill (Least preferred).

Reduce: The amount of waste produced

Reducing our waste might be one of the most difficult steps in the hierarchy. As such, small steps have to be taken to practice this in our daily lives. To reduce your waste, a key question to ask yourself before purchasing an item would be “Is this a need or a want?”.

Most of the time, the item that we wish to purchase is more likely to be a want than a need. Other questions that can be taken into consideration could be: How long do you foresee yourself using the item? Will it truly add value in your life? Are there any other alternative eco products?

Just by avoiding the act of impulse buying, you can help to prevent the wastage of resources and at the same time, save your money!

Reuse: Materials as much as possible

The important notion of “waste nothing, use everything” can aid in the habit of reusing. Most of us disregard the power and ease of reusing as we fail to see that almost everything and anything can be reused! For example, pasta sauce that comes in a glass bottle can be reused to store your snacks (after cleaning it properly first).

Next time, before throwing something away, take a moment to reconsider if the item can be reused for any other purposes!

Recycle: Everything you can

Recycling is definitely not a stranger to anyone. Recycling bins can be found in almost in every city and country. So, nothing should be stopping you from recycling!

Recover: Energy from waste

For some of us, recovery of energy from waste is a novel concept as it is not a widespread practice. In some countries, they have facilities that convert their waste to energy which contributes significantly to the concept of recovery.

For example, Norwegians residents are encouraged to sort their waste into various categories (organic, plastic and others). From there, the organic waste is then transformed into biogas which can be used as bio fuel for buses in Oslo. Although recovery might be difficult without the help of the government or large corporations, we can contribute individually by repairing our items instead of throwing them out!

Landfill

The last level – landfill, is probably the option in the hierarchy that is viewed as the last choice. Unless you really cannot practice the 4 levels of the hierarchy aforementioned, then it will end up in the landfill.

 

For more information about the zero waste hierarchy, click here!

Sustainable Living

Being Green in the CBD

The Central Business District (“CBD”), a place where most of us would have worked there once in our lifetime. With the fast-paced life in the CBD and a strong culture of taking away, we have decided to share some tips on how to successfully be sustainable while working in the CBD!

 

Tip #1: Be Wise About Lunch Time

Between 12 pm to 1.30pm, the CBD gets extremely crowded due to the common lunch hour among numerous companies. I believe most of us have faced the situation of having difficulty in finding seats and for convenience, we opt to take away and eat in our offices instead. But can you imagine the amount of plastic and styrofoam waste you have created just with this simple action?

To minimise the waste generated, why not plan to go for an early or late lunch? Based on our experience, the best timing to go for lunch will be around 11.45pm (Right before the lunch crowd) or 1.45pm (Right after the lunch crowd). It will depend on your individual preference on whether you wish to have an early or late lunch. But just with this simple tweak in lunch timing, it can help to prevent the need to take away and ultimately, the creation of waste!

 

Tip #2: Bring Your Own…

From bringing your own bottles to bags, there are numerous benefits when you bring your own items.

  • Bring Your Own Bottle: Yes, having to work in CBD, we need our daily dosage of coffee/tea. But did you know that bringing your own bottles when you purchase drinks have their own benefits? Vendors such as Fun Toast provide customers with 10% discount when you bring your own tumblers! Also, it will be a feel-good moment when you think about the plastic waste you manage to reduce from Singapore’s statistics of 762,700 tonnes of plastic waste!
  • Bring Your Own Utensils: If you are a frequent Lau Pa Sat goer, you will realise one obvious flaw of the place. They do not provide any metal utensils instead, everything they use is plastic! By bringing your own metal utensils, it ensures that no harmful chemicals are being released when your plastic utensils are in contact with hot temperature and you are also doing a favour to Mother Earth!
  • Bring Your Own Bag: Needless to say, bringing your own bag is the number one practice that all of us should be aware of. Even though there is minimal shopping to do in the CBD, always ensure that you plan ahead by bringing your own bag when you wish to purchase something!

PS: Check out the new initiative, BYO Singapore, which is a campaign that involves offering incentives to customers who bring their own reusable bags, containers or bottles/cups!

 

Tip #3: Lunchbox

If you are busy and have no time to sit down to have lunch and really need to take away, why not invest in a good lunch box? You can use your lunch box to store your lunch, fruits or even cake! You can buy lunchboxes from online retailers like Lazada or Amazon who offer a wide variety of design. Your lunch will also look more appealing as compared to being stored in a plastic or Styrofoam box.

 

So the above are a few tips on how our team incorporate sustainability into our daily working lives. Share with us how you be sustainable while working in the comments below!

Sustainable Businesses Sustainable Living

IKEA’s Sustainable Living Home Tour

When we say “IKEA”, the first word that comes to everyone’s mind is – Meatballs! Yes, IKEA is known for introducing Swedish food (our favourite!) and interior design to Singapore.

But do you know, IKEA is also one of the top leaders in driving sustainability efforts? By 2020, the IKEA group aims to run its entire business on renewable energy and produce as much renewable energy as it consumes! Within Singapore, IKEA has a countless number of initiatives to show their commitment towards sustainability such as being MSC certified, recycling waste to biofuel and banning the sale of plastic bags.

IKEA recently launched their Sustainable Living Home Tour, which allows the public to experience how a family living in a 55 square room apartment can take small actions towards sustainable living. Our team was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in the tour. Here are some of the products that have come to our attention as both sustainable and stylish!

1. Joxtorp 

So on the first glance, you might think this is a normal lamp shade made out of polyester or steel. But when you take a closer look, it is actually made out of paper! At least 80% of this product is made of paper and it comes in other colours such as orange.

A complementary item that can match this lamp shade is a LED light bulb which you can also find in IKEA. Since 2016, all light bulbs being sold at IKEA are LED use up to 85% less energy than conventional bulbs and can last up to 20 years!

2. Variera/Utrusta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of our favourite items would have to be the Variera/Utrusta, which is a waste sorting bins for the cabinet. As mentioned by the IKEA staff, 9 out of 10 households do not sort their waste and we believe these bins will encourage sorting and also make it easier for the household. Also, these bins are made of recycled polypropylene plastic!

3. Ärenpris 

Look at fluffy pillow! Would you have guessed that they are made out of recycled plastic? The filling in these pillows from 100% recycled PET bottles and they feel the same as other pillows (Trust us, we tried it out). What a meaningful innovation!

4. Pahl

For those of you who have children, this is probably one of the most thoughtful furniture designed by IKEA. This desk allows you to adjust its height to three different levels, with the maximum height being 72cm. So, instead of having to buy a new desk everytime your child grows taller, you now have a desk that grows with your child!

 

Besides all these products above, IKEA has a wide variety of other products which are designed with sustainability in mind. Share with us which of their products is your favourite and why!

 

Sustainable Living

5 green ways to transform your work desk

People usually tend to have a misconception that it is very difficult to lead a sustainable life. But is it really that difficult? Based on our experiences, here are 5 small actions you can take to transform your work desk into a sustainable one, without having to make drastic changes!

 

1. Hello, plant

Did you know that having plants on your work desk helps to increase happiness and productivity? They will also help to enliven your workspace! Desk plants require low maintenance and help to improve the environment by purifying the air and regulating air humidity.

You can easily get a small desk plant from shops such as Muji, IKEA or any florists.  For those who prefer to have low maintenance plants, you can consider buying devil’s ivy, cacti or peace lily.

 

2. Bye bye metal stapler

A single staple might be irrelevant but when you think about a number of resources used to make staplers, it suddenly becomes a significant matter. A solution to this problem? Paper stapler! A paper staple is one that uses a special binding method to fasten the sheets, without the use of metal staples. How cool is that! But you should take note that this stapler is suitable for stapling documents of about 5 pages.

P.S. Why not challenge yourself not to use a stapler at all?

 

3. The beauty of refills

Some of us may have the bad habit of throwing a pen away every time after use. But have you ever thought about getting refills? Not only do they help you practice sustainability, it is also cheaper as compared to getting a whole new pen! Refills are not only restricted to pens. You can buy refills for highlighters or whiteboard markers which can be found in almost every bookshop. So, what is stopping you?

 

4. Say no to spiral notebooks

One small detail that is often left out is when you purchase a spiral notebook (i.e. notebooks which are bound with a metal spine). Although it can be argued that the metal spine can be recycled, isn’t it better to avoid it completely? This also helps you save the hassle of separating the papers from the metal spine. My personal favourite brand of non-spiral notebooks is from Muji, even some of their planners are non-spiral!

 

5. Fancy pencils

It doesn’t come as a surprise that traditional pencils are much more environmentally friendly as compared to mechanical pencils due to the way they are manufactured. And who doesn’t love to use fancy and innovative pencils? There are traditional pencils which can be replanted into trees after use, such as Sprout whose pencils grow into various species of plants (eg: Basil, Mint, Sunflower and Sage). There are even traditional pencils made out of recycled newspapers. Why not give them a try?

 

Have more ideas on how to transform your work desk into a sustainable one? Feel free to drop us a few comments!