Whether we like it or not (we’re looking at you, Donald Trump) climate change is a real and very serious issue that all of us, collectively, need to address.
But, we do understand that’s pretty hard for us to do when the general public are not invited to world summit meetings or one-to-one sessions with world leaders.
However, we can make changes to our lifestyles and daily routines that can contribute to a positive future for the planet. The small changes will add up to the big ones, so don’t pass off starting small. Whilst decreasing your personal carbon footprint, as a collective, we’ll be able to make a huge change to the future of our home.
Turn the tap off when brushing teeth or use a cup of water. Take showers not baths and wash up by hand instead of dishwasher
Saving water usage is a huge part of conservation practices that can be easily transferred into your daily routines. Did you know? “Singapore’s per capita household water consumption was reduced from 165 litres per day in 2003 to 143 litres in 2017. The target is to lower it to 140 litres by 2030,” according to Singapore’s National Water agency.
So whilst we’re all appearing to be more aware of our water usage, there’s still a lot of room for improvement, given that they’ve also released these statistics: “Water demand in Singapore is currently about 430 million gallons a day (mgd) that is enough to fill 782 Olympic-sized swimming pools, with homes consuming 45% and the non-domestic sector taking up the rest. By 2060, Singapore’s total water demand could almost double, with the non-domestic sector accounting for about 70%. By then, NEWater and desalination will meet up to 85% of Singapore’s future water demand.”
With our homes being almost half of the usage, it really is down to us to enable a positive change. So when you use water at home, start being mindful with how much you use. Don’t let the tap run free when you brush your teeth, instead turn it off when not in use or even better, fill up a cup and use the same water to wash your toothbrush in between brushing. If you have a dishwasher, don’t half-fill it and put on a cycle, wait until it’s full and use it sparingly. If you have a bath, avoid having one every day – make short showers your preference.
Turn lights, TV, air con and all electrics off when not in use
It’s tempting to just leave the air con on when you pop out briefly so it’s cool upon return, or put the TV to standby mode instead of fully off before bed, but keeping your electricity bill down is of interest to yourselves and the planet too. Try a rule of thumb: If it’s not in use, turn it off. There’s so much you can do at home to conserve energy, even switching to LED light bulbs over standard light bulbs will mean you use 75% less energy.
Recycle your weekly cardboard, plastics and cartons
Whether you live in a HDB flat, a condominium or even a landed property, you’ll be able to find a recycle bin near you.
So you have no excuse to start recycling your daily household stuff, if you don’t already. To make is as easy as possible, we suggest having two bins – one for general waste and one for your recycled goods. Then you can just throw the recycled bag down to the designated bin once full. If you’re not sure what can or cannot be recycled, here’s a handy guide published on the National Environment Agency.
Take your own bags to the supermarket
Plastic has become such a devastating burden on our environment, it’s actually the main target drive for this year’s Earth Day with “End Plastic Pollution”. The site says “From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet.” In an interview last year, Lewis discussed the effects of plastic on our oceans: “Take plastic as the example. When it’s not disposed of properly, it eventually ends up in the sea, and then it’s going to get broken down. Then, it’s eaten by fish. Those fish are then eaten by humans. You’ve actually got real plastic that we humans are eating – plastic which is detrimental to our health.
The second point to make is that, by 2050, they expect there to be more plastic in the ocean, by volume, than fish! This says something about how much plastic is going into the ocean, but also by how little fish there are due to overfishing.”
So, on top of your recycling agenda in your home, also try eliminate use of plastic bags when out shopping. Supermarkets here still give out plastic bags, though there are bags you can buy at the counter and reuse or have a large fabric bag designated just for your groceries that you always take out with you for grocery shopping.
Where possible, walk, bike or take public transport
This is common knowledge these days: If you take a car, you’re adding to the carbon footprint by the vehicle emissions, which in turn affects our ozone layer and the climate warming issue, all with huge detrimental consequences. Cutting down the times you use your car will help reduce these emissions.
There are many alternatives if you find walking in our heat too much for you. You can use a bike by the Obike initiative – you’ll see these bikes parked all over the island waiting for you to jump on and ride away. Or, head towards the bus stop or the MRT, as public transport lessens individual carbon footprint and of course, the traffic on the roads will ease up too. It’s a win-win all round.
Buy a reusable coffee cup for your daily brew
If you’re like me, you need a daily morning coffee fix to kickstart your day. So you head to Costa, Starbucks or even your local counter for a kopi. But they all hand out takeaway coffee cups that are made from cardboard, that then gets thrown away and it another item to add to the pile of rubbish that needs to be disposed.
Instead, take your own reusable coffee cup that you can hand over to the barista to get them to fill it up in your favourite coffee for you. This means in turn you’ll have a cup to hand when you fancy a tea later, and you can just wash it up and use it again the next day. Imagine, just 1 cup a day is 365 cardboard takeout containers you’ll be saving!
Cut down on the amount of meat you consume
Whilst this may not seem an obvious change to help the environment, it’s actually a huge factor in our collective carbon footprint. In fact, the meat industry delivers more carbon emissions than driving cars. Website Green Eatz states: “Livestock farming produces from 20% to 50% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions” whereas a “vegan diet has the lowest carbon footprint at just 1.5 tons CO2e (Carbon Dioxide Equivalent).” Factually, the carbon footprint of a vegetarian diet is about half that of a meat-lover’s diet.
So to contribute a positive change to the environment, one of the ways is just for you to cut out meat products, albeit altogether or at least cut down how much you consume per week. Also, having too much meat may not be necessarily good for you. Here’s what happens to you when you consume too much protein.
Do laundry once a week with a full drum
Like all large household appliances, the washing machine uses up a lot of water, energy and directly relates to how much each home ‘consumes’ for both. Whilst you may want that special dress washed pronto, try avoid doing a wash where the drum is not full. Leave your laundry to once a week maximum, and ensure it’s comfortably full. Also, avoid any high heat washes.
The running costs will increase by more than half by turning the dial to 60°C instead of 40°C. Keep the temperature at 40 degrees or below and try use the ‘quick wash’ or ‘eco wash’ cycles on your machines, if you have them. This method will mean you keep costs down and use less laundry detergents too.
Shop pre-loved pieces
Rather than constantly buying new to keep up with our fast fashion climate, why not turn to thrift stores for some pre-loved items? Long gone are the days where thrift stores came with that ‘dirty’ old stigma – now they’re full of basically new unworn stylish pieces that you can work into your wardrobe without buying brand new clothes. Not to mention the price tags are over 50 per cent less than what you’d pay new.
Don’t believe us? Check out our ‘Be thrifty with fifty” video challenge specially for this coming Earth Day, where we set out to see what awesome items we could bag in Singapore’s thrift stores, all for under $50 spend in total. You’ll be so surprised!
If you don’t want to venture into actual thrift stores, there is always Carousel – a brilliant app that allows us all to sell on items we no longer want, need or don’t fit.
Read the label: Buy eco-conscious clothing
And finally, whilst on the topic of clothing, you can still buy new and make eco-conscious decisions. It’s far to say 2017/2018 has seen a huge surge in high street and designer labels making changes to the way they produce their pieces.
Zara have made changes to their stores for lower emissions as well as releasing their Join Life collection focused on garments made from recycled materials. H&M has entire collections made from recycled goods and has just launched it’s 7th conscious exclusive collection.
With initiatives now in place like the Better Cotton Initiative and recyclable materials now more widely spread, you can make changes to your clothing that will also help reduce your footprint on the planet. It’s a small decision your end that can have a huge positive impact on the planet as a whole.
Images: 123RF.com, H&M
Text: Nicola Watson / Her World / April 2018
For similar stories, visit herworld.com.
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