If it’s one thing that 2020 taught us about climate change, it’s that we are the ones harming the earth with our huge carbon footprint. COVID-19 notwithstanding, the past year has taught us many things, starting with not taking anything for granted. Even if you’re not one to make new year resolutions, start taking a bit more responsibility to constantly better yourself through your lifestyle choices and habits.
A greener world starts with you and your personal choices. Don’t wait for your supermarket to start banning plastic bags or the local McDonalds to stop stocking up on straws. Focus on the little changes, and work on a strategy that suits you.
Along the way, share your tips with your family and friends – you might find your habits rubbing off on them!
Here are 6 simple ways to start embracing a greener lifestyle.
1. Take more public transport or walk instead of driving
Compared to most other major cities, Singapore has one of the most comprehensive and reliable public transport system thanks to its geographical size. The astronomical cost of owning a car might not be a good opportunity cost, especially if you’re working towards financial freedom or owning a property.
Walk if you can, or consider biking to rediscover the simple pleasure of going by foot or pedal. For occasions where you a car would come in handy, easily rent a car for an hour with Blue SG. Grab also has a handy option where you can hitch rides with drivers going the same direction as you, and you can even book your rides in advance.
2. Give thrift shopping a chance
As countries all over the world started locking down and homes turned into makeshift offices, people started to realise that materialistic possessions do not seem to matter as much when you cannot show them off to anyone. As DJ Gareth Emery came to note, most ‘fancy’ possessions we own are to impress other people.
While chasing the latest trends might not be priority, getting yourself a new outfit can help breathe some life into your wardrobe. Instead of buying them off the shelves, head to a thrift shop to save some threads from going to the landfill. Simply using a secondhand piece of clothing will reduce its impact by about 20%.
3. Start clothes swapping
Keen to cut down on your spending but still keep your wardrobe constantly refreshed? Barter trade might be the answer. Avoid those mass-marketed clothes swapping events and head to Carousell. Some sellers are open to swaps instead of cash transactions.
The savvy ones might even set up a clothes swap with your friends – of the same fashion style and size as you of course – to give your clothes a longer life. And when you’re bored of the clothes, just pass them onto someone else!
4. Invest in a tumbler that can hold both hot and cold drinks
Does this sound like you: constantly on the go with a drink in hand? You’ve probably burnt your way through a great deal of plastic and paper cups. Get a tumbler to hold your coffee, juices, and even bubble tea to reduce the amount of wastage. Spend a little more to get a good quality tumbler with a lid that won’t spill or leak when you put it in your bag.
If you need your daily fix from Starbucks, consider getting a Starbucks tumbler to get a discount off every drink that you purchase. You’re saving the environment and money at the same time!
5. Start freecycling
There are many communities online and offline that are willing to give and receive free items. Heads up; these are usually for the unfussy as the items might not always be in brand new condition, but still usable.
Olio is a location-based app where you can find free items and leftover food (and sometimes even meals) from your neighbours. Think spices, biscuits, bedframes – anything really. Telegram group Singapore Freebies by Sharetings and Facebook groups like the Singapore Really Really Free Market are great places to giveaway unwanted but still usable items or find things you might need! Keeping an eye on expat groups might be good to get furniture or bigger ticket items that expats might have to get rid off quick as they are moving away.
6. Buying from packaging-free brands
The jump to a zero waste lifestyle can seem daunting, but there are many places which are consciously trying to reduce packaging to cut down the impact on the environment.
Unpackt is a zero waste grocery store, where you can buy groceries, dried goods, home cleaners, spices and even home living items in bulk. They have all sorts of foods like rice, cereal, grains and even condiments like freshly grinded nut butter, soy sauce, and honey. The foods are also organic without the hefty price tag of organic foods. Other than reducing packaging, it also reduces waste as you can buy the exact amount you as there’s no minimum spend at Unpackt.
If you prefer to do online shopping for your groceries, try The Bare Essentials which deliver your food items in reusable packaging. Just arrange to have your containers dropped off or get their reusable containers for future use.
Lush is a great beauty advocate for the zero waste lifestyle. Their soaps and shampoos bars come in paper bags, and all their packaging are made from recyclable materials. Even the foam peanuts in the boxes to cushion your products are made from biodegradable plant-based materials that can be composted. They even have soap cards for travelling, saving both space and weight.
Going green should be convenient and makes sense both for your lifestyle and financially, or you would find yourself struggling to maintain the habit. And if you occasionally slip up, don’t be too hard on yourself. We’re allowed to have a little respite every now and then!