If you have been seeing posts and videos on social media talking about adopting a zero-waste lifestyle to care for Earth, why not take up the challenge and give it a go?
Living here in this country makes this challenge rather easy to accomplish with the Singapore government taking actions to help promote and encourage everyone to get started. With the big blue bins under public housing apartments for recycling, the strong emphasis to reduce, reuse, recycle, it is only time that everyone is on board with this lifestyle with you. Don’t worry, you don’t have to drop everything and forego your favourite candy bar cause it is wrapped in plastic. All you have to do is make a conscious effort and start making minute changes that can eventually lead to a full-fledged lifestyle. So whether you are a local or new to Singapore, read on to find out how you can kickstart this sustainability journey!
What Is Zero Waste?
For those who do not know what the Zero Waste or its lifestyle is about, it is basically the notion of attaining the goal to have no trash generated from our daily lives. It encourages the redesign of resource lifecycle that all products can be reused and is applied in many different aspects, mainly for food and plastic disposals and chemical waste. It is rather similar to the way that resources are reused in nature, leaving no sign of damage behind by taking actions of refusing, repurposing, reusing, recycling and reducing. So here’s how you can get started.
Singapore is a food haven. Being host to a plethora of beautiful cultures, you may find an array of street food, tantalising restaurant dishes and plates of fine dining delectables that will tickle your fancy. Refusing to delicious food is quite the task for many, but what happens to the food that you are unable to finish when you over-order?
Well, for starters (pun intended), you can try to check in with the service staff if the portion that you have ordered is more than suffice for you (and your company) if you are ordering at a restaurant. Alternatively, you can opt to have a dish removed from your order and place it only if you feel that you have room for more later.
If you are at the local coffee shop, food court or hawker centre, ask the person at the stall how big a portion of each dish is before ordering, they will be happy to help you out! If not, you can always peek at the tray of the person before you while you queue for your turn.
Also, we understand that sometimes, when it comes to parties, there is bound to be leftovers. If you are the host, try ordering food for a buffet with a lesser headcount in mind (say about 20 people’s worth for a party of 30) and have some fruits, cheese, crackers and crisps at hand to serve up if the amount of food falls a little short. Alternatively, you can seek a pal’s help on walking to the nearest food place to grab a few more portions of food.
Food waste does not only refer to a surplus of food that is served up. It can also be the excess grocery shopping that you have done, like a bundle purchase of fresh produce going bad that you thought you could finish, but did not manage to. In this case, try food composting! If that is not for you, you can also cultivate the habit of purchasing your groceries with half a week’s worth of meal plan in mind and ensure that you can use up all the ingredients there are on your shopping list.
In this modern society where pretty much everything is packaged in the most cost-effective and fuss-free manner to entice consumers who lead busy lifestyles (or just plain lazy), thus, there is an inclination of excessive packaging for anything and everything to help make things portable and easier to use and consume. That includes things like individual plastic packaging of candy which are then placed in a large plastic packet or a plastic wrapper over a plastic straw. Short-lived and quite unnecessary, these plastic disposables can actually be reduced drastically by eliminating the use of straws, using reusable straws and food containers (especially if you are packing your food from the local stall and purchasing your grocery from retailers that allow you to bring your own container to pack your purchase home. While you are here in Singapore, check out Unpackt, Eco.le, Zero ways, The Green Collective. Give the local wet market a go for an experience of the local grocery shopping scene. They are similar to farmers’ markets, with products and produce being displayed without packaging, so bring your own grocery bags for your purchases!
That said, you may also like to start reducing your use of plastic bags for shopping. Despite the local retailers providing free plastic bags when you purchase items from them, bring your own reusable bags to shop instead.
With lesser plastic bags at home, you will be also wondering how you can dispose of your trash down the chute safely. Simply use a medium sized airtight container to contain your trash and use old magazine or newspapers to wrap the waste securely in a bundle ( some origami skills required here) at the end of the day or when the container is full. Do not toss loose items down the chute.