Singapore may be the most sustainable economy in Asia (and second in the world), but our basics in sustainable-minded citizenry is missing -- we're not that into, nor are we obliged to, recycle, reduce and reuse. We value convenience over the good of our environment.
In our daily lives, our mindset and the infrastructure to live a sustainable life is sorely lacking: we barely have recycling bins. Where we are lucky enough to find them, the bins are overflowing, often with waste that is sorted incorrectly.
Despite these foundation flaws, I resolved to live more sustainably. In doing so, I was challenging myself to begin taking charge of my own actions. At the cusp of 2016, my resolution was to start making more conscious and informed choices. This change was to set off a chain of reactions -- I hoped to create less waste, therefore inflict less harm to our environment. I also wanted to benefit people in need more directly.
Being sustainable isn't just about making eco-friendly choices -- at the core of it, it is about creating a foundation for a good, healthy existence, for all living things. By taking charge of my own actions, I would be helping lay this foundation.
Change, however, is the hardest part of any lifestyle. For years, I have been used to ordering food without consequence of waste (taking nibbles from full portions and letting the rest go to waste was part of my job), purchasing without questioning, doing without thinking. Change, therefore, had to happen in small doses. In these small doses, it wasn't difficult at all.
Through a series of posts, I'd like to share what I accomplished in 2016 (and how and where to purchase some of these sustainable alternatives), in case it might help you make that change too:
This was one of the first, and easiest, changes I made. The regular toothbrush is made from a combination of plastic (made from crude oil) and rubber (for the hand piece), nylon (bristles), and a mix of plastic and cardboard for the packaging. Only the cardboard is likely biodegradable. In a month, each person in my household discards at least two toothbrushes -- that is at least 24 toothbrushes in a year per person which remain in landfills indefinitely. These were easily swapped out with biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes purchased via Neishaus. Even the packaging is biodegradable.
More glass, less plastic
I've switched to using less plastic and more glass containers, which is lovely as this change allows me to indulge in my obsession with glassware, responsibly (I tend to pick mine up at secondhand stores like Hock Siong). Not only are glass containers healthier (you won't have to worry about BPS), they are also infinitely reusable... until you break them, that is. If, like me, you are the clumsy sort, feel better knowing glass is 100 per cent recyclable. Plastic, in comparison, is only "downcyclable" and in the process releases harmful gases. That said, advancements in science and technology mean that plastics might be the next source of fuel -- something for us to keep an eye out for.
Of everything that I've learnt in this past year, I've also learnt that there is always more to uncover when it comes to living sustainably -- assumptions, alternatives and aspirations. Sustainable living is a lifelong journey that can become much easier with the right support. Support begins with conversations.
This, I hope, is how we can start ours.