The sustainable life isn’t as inconvenient as you think. It’s quite easy to go from idea to attempt, and from habit to ritual. Singapore’s ecowarriors show us how to live and work more sustainably, 24/7.
“I brush my teeth with a bamboo toothbrush and a DIY zero-waste toothpaste. I have used this toothpaste for two years, and it has worked better for me than any store-bought one – it has thoroughly reduced my bad breath as well. I rinse with water and also my DIY zero-waste mouthwash. I wash my face with a facial foam from Innisfree, which has a wonderful recycling programme where customers can return empty bottles to be used again,” says Felicia Poon. All recipes are on her Rich Green Poon blog and Instagram (@richgreenpoon).
“Turn off all appliances at their source before you leave home,” says Priyanka Shahra of Swapaholic.
“My skincare routine only requires me to use charcoal bar soap that is all-organic and natural. I use it for my body as well – it is gentle and really good for my skin.
“For oral care, I use a toothpaste powder from The Clean Attempt made from foodgrade bentonite clay, baking soda and peppermint essential oil. The toothpaste powder is refillable at bulk-goods stores like Unpackt, so that means no plastic used! I also use a charcoal vegan dental floss from The Lala Lokal. This is also refillable and thus uses less plastic packaging,” says Rachel Tan (@nocarrierpls).
“Toss an empty lunchbox into your bag so you can avoid having your ‘dabao’ food packed into a single-use plastic container or styrofoam box (which isn’t great for your food, anyway). This way, if you can’t finish your food, you can have the rest later,” says TV host Charlotte Mei de Drouas (@thecharlottemei).
TIP: ACCORDING TO CHEM TRUST, A CHARITY THAT AIMS TO PREVENT MANMADE CHEMICALS FROM CAUSING LONG-TERM DAMAGE TO WILDLIFE OR HUMANS, YOUR BATH TOWEL CAN GO TWO WEEKS BETWEEN WASHES.
“Don’t print documents that can be shared digitally,” says Priyanka.
“If you have excess time on weekends, DIY your floor cleaner. I made mine from vinegar, essential oils and water. It takes literally everything off. Don’t worry about the smell – it’ll disappear after the product dries,” says Charlotte.
“Start prepping for a ‘clean out the fridge’ meal before you go grocery shopping. That way, you use up things that won’t survive a few more days, and you’ll know what you need to stock up on,” says Charlotte.
“Put any waste accumulated over the course of the day in recycling bins,” says Priyanka.
TIP: LEVI’S CEO ONCE SAID THAT HE DIDN’T WASH HIS JEANS FOR A YEAR. INSTA CLEAN PHENOM AGGIE MACKENZIE SAYS YOU CAN GET EIGHT TO 10 WEARS OUT OF JEANS BEFORE WASHING THEM.
“As I work from home, I usually cook my meals. Eating less meat is one of the best things anyone can do for the earth, so I get my protein from lentils and beans,” says Sarah Benjamin Huang of food blog Kitchen Hoarder.
“Support local restaurants and bars, and bring and use your own straw. When you’re doing your laundry, hand-wash your clothes with natural detergent, then air-dry them,” says Priyanka.
“If we head out for drinks, I try to drink draft beer, on tap. If cocktails are ordered, I ask the bar not to add any decorative items such as the adorable paper umbrella or plastic stirrer,” says Felicia.
“I love my Korean sheet masks, but all that packaging is bad. So I sometimes head for my kitchen to get a natural beauty fix. A honey mask made with high-quality, sustainable honey does wonders for the skin,” says Sarah.
“Share a taxi if you’re too tired to take public transport,” says Priyanka.
“Once home, I remove my makeup with a reusable cotton pad and cleansing water. I double cleanse with Innisfree’s Green Tea cleansing oil and facial foam. I take a shower using Lush’s Big Sea Salt Shampoo and Outback Mate bar soap,” says Felicia.
TIP: TRY BUYING FOOD WHOLESALE AND PUTTING THE DRIED PRODUCTS LIKE RICE, PASTA AND LENTILS INTO GLASS JARS TO AVOID PURCHASING PRODUCTS WRAPPED IN PLASTIC.
“When taking public transport, don’t leave behind plastic bags or waste – and nicely encourage others not to do so either,” says Priyanka.
“I go to work by bus. I get a coffee in my reusable collapsible cup by Stojo on the way. I chose a collapsible cup because it fits into my handbag,” says Felicia.
“I usually take public transport. The Grabwheels electric scooter sharing service was recently made available at my school, so if my destination is nearby, using that is also a really fun way to get around instead of taking private transport!” says Rachel.
“In my company, we strive to reduce printing as much as we can. We store a lot of our documents online in the cloud, and any excess paper is reused as rough paper. Plenty of assignments are also done on an online platform now. And I carry a water bottle so that I don’t need to purchase bottled water,” says Felicia.
TIP: INVEST IN A WASHING MACHINE WITH A FILTER TO CATCH MICROFIBRES. BUY FEWER SYNTHETIC CLOTHES.
Bring your own cutlery, say no to one-use takeout boxes and plastic bags, and support restaurants that source local produce. Don’t ask for more water than you will consume,” says Priyanka.
“For lunch, I try to dine in as much as possible. I use handkerchiefs instead of napkins, but I have to admit there are days when I forget to bring a hanky. I use a metal straw instead of a plastic one. At places that give you disposable utensils, such as at Japanese sushi restaurants, I use my own bamboo chopsticks instead,” says Felicia.
“I never know when I’ll have sudden food cravings. So it’s always necessary for me to carry a tote or large-enough handbag that can hold food and cutlery. However, on days when I feel like carrying a tinier bag, I use my silicone sandwich bag instead of a rigid container so it’s less bulky and can fit into my smaller bags,” says Rachel.
“Wrap food in reusable food sealers. They are coated in beeswax, so the heat from your hand will melt them slightly and they’ll keep your food sealed,” says Joline Tang of The Sustainability Project.
“Don’t throw out fruits that are bruised or overripe, especially bananas. Slice them up and store in an airtight container or reusable ziplock bag and keep it in your freezer. They can be used to bake banana muffins later in the week, or you can blitz them up in your food processor to make a quick banana ice cream the next morning,” says Charlotte.
“If you love reading before going to bed, consider getting second-hand books or swopping books with your friends,” says Joline.
TIP: DON’T BUY CLEANING CLOTHS. CUT YOURS OUT OF USED CLOTHES, AND STICK THEM IN WITH THE WASH EVERY OTHER DAY.
TIP: TURN OFF YOUR AIR-CON; SWITCH ON THE FAN INSTEAD.
“I’m usually in bed by midnight unless I have work to clear. My bedsheets are cotton (I recommend 100 per cent cotton ones) because these are proven to help you sleep better. Cotton sheets also do not have microplastics which can be washed into oceans and ultimately harm marine life,” says Felicia.
ILLUSTRATIONS DIANE NG ROSE (WWW.DIANENGROSE.COM)