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There’s always a silver lining in all matters. Yes, even the COVID-19 pandemic. Hello, lowered global emissions, reduced deforestation, better air and water quality! This data on reduced pollution worldwide is based on satellite images collected by NASA since the coronavirus struck.
Here in Singapore, we are somewhat embracing our pre-covid lives with the onset of Phase 3. With the reopening of the economy, it pays to be more mindful of the impact our actions have on the environment. You may be thinking that deforestation, air and water quality are lofty ideas and better left to the relevant agencies. However, everyone has a part to play. No action is too small.
Why not make this year's Earth Day on 22 April the day you kickstart a more sustainable lifestyle? Not quite sure how you can play a part to conserve the environment? There are plenty of minor tweaks you can make to your daily lives. Read on, and you will discover that a little effort goes a long way when it comes to doing our part for Mother Earth.
Reduce the use of single-use plastic
Want a cup of Joe? Bring your own keep cup.
Paper cups, which are supposed to be more earth-friendly, are usually lined with plastic which makes them non-compostable. Some cafes offer a discount when you bring your own cup to reward you for your effort.
Sustainable Kitchen hacks
Pack food with silicone bags. Say no to zipper bags.
Reduce the use of plastic. Look to silicone material which is safe for food keeping.
Keep food for longer with beeswax wraps instead of cling wraps
Say bye to environmentally unfriendly cling wraps and save money while at it.
Love cooking and baking? Think long-term and invest in reusable baking essentials
Cuisine Reusable Baking Mat, 100% Non-Stick, Easy to Clean for Gas, Electric, Toaster and Convection Ovens, S$29.33
BYOS – Bring your own straw when having your favourite bubble tea
Did you know Singaporeans use a whopping 2.2 million straws a day? Refuse plastic straws and get a set of reusable straws in various sizes to suit your lifestyle. Better yet, get a complete table set while at it.
BYOB 1 – Bring your own (tote) bag
The local government is in discussion to make consumers pay for single-use plastic bags to reduce the environmental impact. According to a 2018 Yahoo news article, the annual supermarket plastic bag usage in Singapore can fill the size of 126 Gardens by the Bay! Scary. Quit being so reliant on the use of plastic and start the good habit of toting reusable bags now!
BYOB 2 – Bring your own water bottle
Are you still purchasing bottled drinks? Look at the savings if you were to make some effort to bring your own water! Want something zestier? Add a wedge of lemon, cucumber or your preferred fruit to your plain water and hydrate throughout the day. Plus point: Get those with markers, so you know how much you are consuming in a day or get a thermal flask that allows you to drink hot and cold beverages for hours, depending on your preferences.
Do you dabao? BYOC – Bring your own container and bring smiles to the stall owner
Remove makeup the eco-friendly way. Try using reusable face wipes and cotton buds
Stop single-use tea bags, switch to stainless steel tea strainers
Though primarily made from paper, tea bags are heat-sealed with oil-based plastic, making them uncompostable. Even worse, some brands are made entirely of plastic, releasing billions of microplastic and nano plastic particles that may be harmful to the body, according to an article by The Washington Post. Make the right choice for your health and the environment.
Opt for period underpants and reusable menstrual pads
According to a BBC news report, a woman is estimated to use around 10,000 pads or tampons in a menstrual lifetime. Worse, pads and tampons can contain as much as 90% plastic. What's more, a disposable sanitary pad requires more than 500 years to decompose, according to Eco Femme. And this is not even including the additional plastic wrapper that comes packaged with each feminine product. Switch to more earth-friendly and healthier options like these reusable feminine hygiene products below.
Take a step further and explore the use of the menstrual cup
Converts swear by it. Touted to be more hygienic, convenient and environmentally friendly, your woke friends may have already egged you to give the menstrual cup a try.
Clean teeth the eco way with bamboo toothbrushes and toothpaste
Do away with unnecessary packaging, and choose biodegradable materials whenever you can.
Most floss in the market are made of synthetic nylon or Teflon and packaged in plastic containers. Imagine how this tiny item in your daily hygiene routine contributes to the landfill and trash. As mentioned, no action is too small. These tweaks in your lifestyle can do wonders for the environment if done collectively.
Many are peeved about how ugly a well-used toothpaste tube looks and the struggle to squeeze the last bit out at the end of its life. Well, eco-warriors listen up, just by using conventional toothpaste tubes, our carbon footprint is increased by 3.5 billion tonnes of CO2 annually. And according to the climate activist group 1 Million Women, around 1 billion toothpaste tubes are sent to landfills each year. Try toothpaste in tablet form instead.
With the coronavirus still lurking around the corner, why not stay in and enrich your minds? Get the new waterproof kindle and cosy up with an ebook or subscribe to the Disney+ channel and watch the Secrets of the Whales, executive produced by James Cameron and narrated by Sigourney Weaver. TheNational Geographic’s original four-part series premieres today on Earth Day.
Feel inspired? Wish to do more? You can!
1. Move more. Bike, walk and take public transport whenever you can.
2. Be civic-minded. Pick up trash wherever you are, especially at the beach.
3. Save the hot tubs for special occasions and take shorter showers. Use 100% natural sponges.
4. Wash your clothes less and do so only at full load.
5. Bulk buying helps reduce the use of packaging and also brings you economies of scale.
6. Donate, sell or swap things that are still in good condition but do not spark joy anymore. What you don't need maybe someone else's treasure!
Last but not least, do what you can do. Why not try out one sustainable hack a week and see how it goes? If you feel inspired, send this article to a friend or two who may be keen to try out a more sustainable lifestyle. Take up the challenge today!