The Conservationists

This Earth Day, we’re having a conversation about conservation with four women who are doing their bit to save our planet – one eco-friendly gesture at a time.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

This Earth Day, we’re having a conversation about conservation with four women who are doing their bit to save our planet – one eco-friendly gesture at a time.

Charmaine wears a sheer ruffled dress from H&M Conscious; and acrylic earrings from Thrifty Thieves.



34, director of operations at 8M Collective.

The hospitality industry is responsible for about one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and this is set to grow as demand for travel increases. Many hotels are taking measures to reduce their environmental footprint. That includes the 8M Collective group in Singapore that owns Wanderlust Hotel, Ann Siang House, Base Residences and KeSa House. 

“Architectural preservation and transformation [are] at the heart of our business; all our hotels are set in beautiful heritage buildings that we breathe new life into,” explains Charmaine, who oversees operations within the real estate company.

“Unlike traditional developers, we don’t [demolish]. Instead, we preserve, which is inherently more sustainable. Our mission is to reintegrate historical gems back into the cosmopolitan cityscape and conscientiously design them for a modern traveller’s needs. And of course, this includes day-to-day environmental efforts.”

Charmaine adds that it’s their day-to-day efforts that actually help the business stay competitive, attract more travellers and save on operational costs.

“Being environmentally friendly is no longer a trend, it’s a daily pursuit, and we do what we can every day at the ground level,” she says.

“That means cutting down on paper usage across all our properties, considering better ways to be more energy-efficient, reducing our plastic consumption with filtered water stations and refillable dispensers in our rooms, and delivering a select-service model that encourages guests to only use what they really need.”

I’m a crazy, green Asian because… 

Our next generation deserves a cleaner and brighter future.

My Reading Room

Charlotte wears a puff sleeve top and gathered skirt from Studio by Love, Bonito; wooden chain necklace from Lovisa; and pointed toe heels from Sergio Rossi.



28, nutritionist and media presenter.

According to the Singapore Environment Council, Singaporeans throw away more than $300 million in unconsumed food annually. That’s about 68 million plates of nasi lemak! Charlotte is fighting to reduce this phenomenon through her online platform, where she often talks about food wastage.

“It’s crazy that even in a place like Singapore, where we’re seen as an affluent nation, there are still people who go to bed hungry. Food security is invisible to us. If I had a superpower to change something about the planet, it would be to make sure everyone has a full tummy at night,” says the certified nutritionist. 

“When food is wasted, it affects our food security. To get around this, [we need] to make sustainability a part of our lives. [For instance], I am a huge ‘dabao’ queen, so I always get my leftover food to go from the restaurants in my reusable container. I also store food appropriately to ensure they stay fresh, and I only buy or order what I need when I eat out.”

She adds that integrating small practices into your everyday routine and making them a habit is key to making an impact.

“People often know that they shouldn’t be using single-use plastics like straws, but they forget to bring their reusable straws with them. Change is about putting these things at the forefront of your mind and just being conscious of the decisions you’re making,” she shares.

“Even when you’re cooking at home, you can make a difference. I am a huge fan of cooking in bulk, and my freezer is my best friend. When my bananas are going bad, I chop them up, put them in a reusable bag and freeze them. I put my bread in the freezer to keep it fresher for longer. When my herbs are going bad, I put them in ice cube trays, top them up with olive oil and use them in my next pasta dish.”

I’m a crazy, green Asian because… 

I love eating vegetables, so I’m green inside and out!

My Reading Room

Hai Lin wears a toga top and high-waist pants from H&M Conscious; and earrings from Rubi Shoes.



32, manager of Zero Waste SG.

Hai Lin doesn’t just live green, she’s all about practising a waste-free lifestyle too. She works at Zero Waste SG, a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping Singapore eliminate the concept of waste. And she never tires of preaching her environmental mantra: Reuse, reduce and recycle.

“We can all be part of the journey towards waste reduction as much as possible,” she says. “Decluttering our lifestyle choices can not only help to save money but also leave us more mind space to pursue more meaningful activities that can promote mental and emotional well-being.”

It can be hard to shift people’s way of living from consumption-led to conscious-led. The journey towards zero waste comes with its own set of challenges, and Hai Lin explains that at the end of the day, it’s all about survival. 

“To sustain our basic needs for survival like air, food and water, everyone needs to play their part,” she says. “I realise that Singaporeans [in general] have a huge knowledge-to-action gap, with regards to local waste management issues, and how we are part of the ecosystem where our actions have consequences on our already resource-constrained world.”

The 32-year-old also shares that going waste-free isn’t as hard as you’d think and you can start small by just refusing something you do not need. “It’s a simple gesture,” she acknowledges. “But it is the most effective in waste reduction and helps you live more consciously.”

I’m a crazy, green Asian because… 

I’m dedicating my life towards environmental and social justice.

My Reading Room

JJ wears a floral-printed jacket and pants from Studio by Love, Bonito; belt from Lumine Singapore; and graphic chunky heels from Moschino.



34, founder of Rehyphen.

According to the United Nations, nearly 48.5 million metric tonnes of electronic waste, or e-waste, was generated in 2018. 60 per cent of global e-waste is dumped in landfills or incinerated. While there are initiatives in Singapore to promote e-waste recycling to the public, JJ found a way to reuse cassettes, or rather the magnetic tape found in them.

“During a major clean-up of my room, when I came back from studying in New York in 2016, I found these discarded cassettes and decided to weave the tape in them into a piece of cloth because I like the idea of turning what is essentially useless into something beautiful,” she explains.

“I also found out that that type of plastic [that was] used to make the magnetic tape in cassettes are non-biodegradable and very harmful to the earth.”

It took about nine months for the Parsons School of Design graduate to work out a way to properly weave this material, which she patented as MusicCloth. She roped in her mother to help and together they founded their company, Rehyphen.

“We weave MusicCloth by hand in a simple but labour-intensive process,” explain JJ. “In addition to tote bags and wallets, we also make wall art, notebooks, jewellery and dresses. We hope to encourage people to see e-waste with a fresh perspective, and get curious about how things are made.”

MusicCloth has since been recognised by Material Connexion, a material consultancy based in New York that helps companies like Adidas source for materials, and its swatches are also stored at the University of Pennsylvania material lab.

I’m a crazy, green Asian because… 

With MusicCloth, I’ve been able to keep a moment alive far beyond the moment itself.