Don’t call me Greta, but I do want to be greater.
Do you want to do your part for the environment but get discouraged because you think you can never do as much as the outspoken teenage eco-activist Greta Thunberg? You know that single-use plastics are bad, but it just seems impossible to avoid using them. Do you worry that your small and inconsistent eco-friendly efforts will not help in saving the Earth?
I’m not an environmental advocate, but I want to be. Which is why I am often plagued by all these thoughts.
Just like many of us, I do try. For example, I have a metal straw that I use for my occasional bubble-tea treat. Oh, and I got myself a Stasher reusable sandwich bag for Christmas. I try to finish my food or simply ask for less rice so I do not contribute to wastage.
But sometimes, I fail. Sometimes, I forget my straw. Other times, before my company started working-from-home, I would grab my homemade breakfast (thanks Mum!) and rush out of the house only to realise that I forgot to remind her to use the Stasher instead of a Ziploc. Then I feel guilty. Some eco-warrior I am.
It’s worse now after Covid-19 and the circuit breaker. At times, I use disposable masks instead of my reusable cloth mask because it’s easier to breathe. I have a tiffin carrier but sometimes I forget to use it to dabao food from my neighbourhood coffee shop. Now that Phase 2 has started, I’m eating out again so I’ve been using fewer plastic containers. I still forget my straw, though.
But do I get discouraged when my zero carbon footprint efforts get zapped? To me, it’s better to start small than to do nothing at all.
Don’t give up trying
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic reducing carbon emissions and human activities, we have seen cleaner air, clearer skies and the return of wildlife due to the lockdowns around the world. If nothing else, Covid-19 has reminded how big a difference we can make in the impact we have on the environment.
But just as carbon emissions have gone down, garbage generation, especially plastic waste, have gone up. A recent report showed that Singapore households generated an additional 1,334 tonnes (equivalent to 92 double-decker buses!) of plastic waste during the circuit breaker due to takeaways and deliveries.
Let’s not be discouraged though. Zero-waste initiatives may have been slowed by Covid-19, and our personal pledges may have taken a backseat, but there’s always a way if you have the will for it.
For example, if you have to order food in, choose “no cutlery” as your delivery option and congratulations, you’ve just made a conscious step to reduce waste where possible. You’re not going to get an eco-award for it, but it is a step towards forming new sustainable habits in our new normal.
Keep the fun & keep going
There are consumer-oriented initiatives to make recycling easier and even economical, but I find that the easiest way to change habits is to have some fun while doing it!
Be creative, and soon you won’t even realise that you’re helping to save the world. Here are some other unconventional initiatives where you can do your part for the environment.
- First zero-waste bulk store in Singapore
Bring your own containers when you do bulk shopping to stock up on your food, beauty & personal care, lifestyle and homeware products at UnPackt.SG!
- Singapore’s first swapping retail space
Extend your fashion wardrobe, explore new styles and protect the earth with every clothing swap you do at The Fashion Pulpit.
- The kinder way to takeaway
Using the barePack app, find partner cafes and restaurants to dabao with zero disposables used, even if you don’t bring-your-own!
- Recycling your contact lens blisters
Collect your bag from any Capitol Optical Boutique to return your used contact lens blisters and be rewarded for recycling your disposed packaging.
- Donation bins for unused reusable bags at supermarket outlets
Drop your unused reusable bags into the donation bin at these eight supermarket outlets, and you need not worry even if you forget your own bag on your next visit!
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