Easy eco-friendly tips
Climate change has always been a pressing concern. In recent years, Singaporeans have been feeling the heat with rising temperatures and more extreme weather events.
While going green can help mitigate the impact of climate change, many have no clue where or how to start. No worries if you’re feeling suaku because we spoke to Man Jing Kong, co-founder and host of a channel for all things science and wildlife – Just Keep Thinking SG.
She shared tips on how you can be more environmentally-friendly. Here are seven easy eco-friendly tips for you to adopt as part of your 2022 resolutions:
1. Recycle bottles and cans at Reverse Vending Machines
Basically an OG eco-friendly tip, recycling is an easy way to get started on your eco-conscious lifestyle.
Aside from placing recyclables into the blue recycling bin, Man Jing recommends keeping a lookout for Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) that can be found islandwide. “When the RVMs were first rolled out a few months ago, I was quite excited when I saw how these smart machines worked,” she says.
Empty beverage containers made of plastic and aluminium can be deposited at RVMs. For every ten drink containers successfully deposited, you’ll receive some snazzy rewards such as Sentosa Fun Pass Tokens and free Anywheel rides.
“Since these machines give out rewards, they can motivate people to recycle even more,” Man Jing adds. So, no excuses on why you can’t start going green if you spot these machines near you – it’s basically a win-win situation.
2. Use reusable grocery bags and dabao containers
Bringing reusable bags and dabao containers along when we go shopping helps to cut down on disposable waste. But this doesn’t mean you need to buy plenty of brand new reusables in the spirit of going green. Rather, dig out the reusable bags and lunchboxes that you already have at home and bring them along for your shopping trips and food hunts.
According to Man Jing, “Tote bags and dabao containers made from materials like organic cotton use up a lot of water and energy during their production”. In fact, a reusable plastic bag has to be used four times in order to offset the same amount of emissions produced by a single-use plastic bag. Hence, you should only purchase these reusable items if you don’t already own one.
Having owned more than enough of these reusables, Man Jing has also started rejecting free gifts like reusable tote bags given out at events. “Saying no requires zero capital, low effort and no commitment; the more you do it, the more intuitive it becomes,” recommends Man Jing.
3. Have a plant-based meal once a week
Adopting a plant-based diet has become one of the holy grails for sustainability because meat production contributes significantly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
However, even if you don’t want to go completely meat-free, that’s completely fine as well. Many wrongly assume that adopting a plant-based diet requires an all or nothing approach and Man Jing finds that might end up deterring people from trying it.
“It doesn’t have to be a strict regime,” stresses Man Jing, adding that people can try to adopt a “flexitarian diet” and incorporate more plant-based meals once or twice a week.
“Even if we can’t, we shouldn’t blame ourselves too much for eating meat once in a while, especially during social situations where it can get awkward,” says Man Jing. Every small step makes a huge difference and what matters is that we make eco-friendly choices that we can sustain in the long run.
If you’re wondering where you can get some yummy plant-based grub, check out our article on vegan cafes and restaurants.
4. Buy second hand clothes and upcycle
Controversies surrounding fast fashion chains have been hot topics of discussion in recent years and it’s not difficult to see why. “It’s not just about the eco aspects of fast fashion clothing or the carbon footprint they produce, it’s also about the poor working conditions those making your clothes might be subjected to,” laments Man Jing.
As such, she is a big believer of pre-loved clothing and religiously buys them from online platforms like Carousell.
“When it comes to sustainability, there are a lot of benefits. You get to save money and reuse clothes instead of buying newly produced ones which probably use a lot of resources in their production,” says Man Jing.
Bonus: If you’re tired of your current clothes, you can always upcycle them. Upcycling is the creative reuse and transformation of waste materials into new products of value.
For example, you can cut your baggy tee into a crop top or muscle tank. Or even sew some blankets out of a bunch of old fabrics – the possibilities are endless. Alternatively, you can consider selling or donating your clothes for reuse.
5. Use public transportation to get around
It goes without saying that driving private cars on the road emits more greenhouse gas than commuting on public transport. That’s why hopping onto an MRT or bus is an easy way for us to go green.
“Our public transport system is efficient enough for a small country like Singapore to solely rely on public transport instead of having a car,” says Man Jing. Not to mention, it’s also one of the most affordable commuting methods locally.
Man Jing is an avid user of Singapore’s public transport system. But at the same time, she prefers getting to places on foot whenever the weather permits. Not only is it pocket-friendly, “incorporating it into your lifestyle makes it a great form of low-intensity exercise to do,” she muses. Fitspos, we’re looking at you.
6. Buy groceries from places that use less packaging
Another easy eco-friendly tip is to shop for loose groceries without packaging. Whether it’s from a market, bulk foods grocery store or minimart, purchasing loose groceries decreases disposable packaging and food wastage overall. “That’s because you can buy ingredients in the required quantity instead of an entire pack which you may not really need,” says Man Jing.
Though, according to Man Jing, we should also shop local while we’re at it, as imported goods typically involve longer-distance transportation and storage which contribute to more greenhouse gas emissions.
Pro tip: The next time you head to a supermarket, support our local producers by making an effort to check out where your veggies and fish are sourced from before heading to the checkout.
7. Switch your aircon to fan mode after cooling the room down
Let’s be real, many of us are guilty of switching on the aircon when Singapore’s heat and humidity gets unbearable. While it definitely helps to cool the room down, you can see how much energy it uses just by observing your electricity bill.
A simple way to go green would be to run your air-conditioner for a short while before switching to fan mode afterwards. This A/C setting omits the use of an aircon’s compressor and circulates existing cool air like a fan. Most importantly, fan mode only uses 150W of energy compared to over 1,000W when using an A/C’s default cool mode.
Man Jing only discovered the fan mode function during our interview so if this is also news to you, it’s never too late to begin your eco-conscious switch.
Pro tip: Get household appliances with higher tick-ratings under NEA’s Mandatory Energy Labelling Scheme (MELS). Appliances covered under MELS include air-conditioners, refrigerators, televisions, lamps and clothes dryers – the more ticks there are, the more energy-efficient your appliance is.
Eco-friendly tips with Clean & Green Singapore 2021
Man Jing often hosts eco-conscious events on Just Keep Thinking
Image credit: Just Keep Thinking
The green movement’s taking over the world by storm, with plant-based foods and bulk food stores leading the way. And as Man Jing explains, these eco-friendly tips don’t have to require a lifestyle overhaul – all it takes is a few simple changes.
If you’re looking for more tips from Man Jing, check out her platform Just Keep Thinking. Armed with a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences with a specialisation in Environmental Biology, she regularly posts bite-sized science facts and environmental tips on her educational channels.
Pulau Semakau, a landfill island located about 8KM offshore of Singapore.
Image credit: Towards Zero Waste
Those who are keen on adopting a clean, green and sustainable lifestyle can also get acquainted with the Clean & Green Singapore campaign. This initiative provides resources and activities on sustainable living, so you can keep to your 2022 resolution of saving the earth.
This post was brought to you by NEA Singapore.
Photography by Zhou Jinquan.
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