As we enter a new year it is a great time for new habits, so we’ve put together a list of little green steps you can take to reduce your impact on the planet.
“Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating… Let us not take this planet for granted.” – Leonardo DiCaprio
There is no planet b and each of us plays a part. It is undeniable that our planet is suffering at our hands but most of us walk through our lives just focusing on the world directly around us. When we start seeing the truth, often we can feel overwhelmed, distance ourselves and question – what can I as one person do?
Being conscious about our choices is really about taking back control – understanding how our decisions not only impact us but our surroundings and the environment. When we realise that we are in control, that we can vote with our wallets, that we have the choice – we take the power back and can make a different kind of impact. But it starts with us. There is power in numbers and we all need to step up and play a part.
So here are 7 #LittleGreenSteps you can take to start this year on a greener foot:
1) Say no to single-use plastic.
To say that single-use plastic is ‘disposable’ is one of the biggest deceptions of our time. Almost every piece of plastic that was ever made is still on our planet today in some form or another. Did you know that around 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year, which is basically a full garbage truck every minute and it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans by weight than fish? Say no to single-use plastic as much as you can. Bring reusable bags, water bottles, cutlery and containers with you. Avoid products in plastic packaging and refusing plastics that escape as litter (e.g. straws, takeaway cups, utensils, balloons).
2) Green your wardrobe.
Behind all the glitz and glamour, fashion is a dirty industry. It takes 2,720 litres of water to make a single cotton t-shirt – that’s how much we normally drink over a 3 year period. In Singapore, we produce over 150,700 tonnes of textile waste each year – which if you do the math is approximately 120 t-shirts per person. Start by thinking what you are willing to change about your current buying habits. Try clothes swapping with friends or at Swapaholic, give clothes a new lease of life by buying vintage or pre-loved at StyleTribute, try up-cycling get tips from Agatha Lee and before buying something new, ask yourself if you will wear it more than 30 times.
3) Skip those burgers and try Veganuary.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Consuming less beef, meat and dairy reduces your carbon footprint, is good for your health and that of the planet. With tightening waistlines after the festive season, why not try being vegan this January with Veganuary? This site has made is easy as pie, providing all the info and support you need to go vegan this month. If you’re looking for a smaller step, why not try Green Mondays and check out vegan and vegetarian dish reviews on abillionVeg.
4) You breathe what you buy.
For those of us in Singapore (and other South East Asian countries), the haze is a big topic and pain point. It is caused largely by the burning of forests in Indonesia to clear the land, for the production of palm oil which is used in a large number of products we use every day (think softners, soaps, chocolates, cereal, at restaurants etc.). Many of these fires are illegal and done with absolutely no regard for nature or wildlife. Our friends at WWF put it in perspective, rainforests the size of 10 football fields need to be cleared every hour to produce all the palm oil that Singapore needs in a year and if palm oil production continues at its current rate, we will face the extinction of the Sumatran tiger in the coming decade. Palm oil is one of the ‘dirtiest’ ingredients on our shelves but it is getting clean and still the most efficient oils to produce. Look out for the RSPO label to ensure you purchase products with certified sustainable palm oil and check out WWF’s scorecard on Singapore brands here and check our PM Haze’s list of eateries using sustainable palm oil in Singapore here.
5) Get around green.
Greenhouse gas emissions from transport primarily comes from burning fossil fuels for our cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes. If you want to green your commute – its never been easier with our sharing economy. Try bike sharing apps where you can find a bike near you wherever you are (search bike sharing apps in your app store and they come up). If you are ordering a car – select the pooling option. And of course, don’t forget good old walking. For long distance travel, you can purchase carbon offsets which invest your money into alternative energies or biodiversity restoration projects – offset your footprint now.
6) Use your home to act on climate change.
15 of the 16 hottest years on record globally have occurred since 2000, with 2016 being the hottest recorded yet. You can fight climate change in the comfort of your home by making small changes to reduce your carbon footprint, while also saving dollars. Opt for LED lighting, use energy efficient appliances and water tanks, switch your electricity provider to solar or carbon neutral, or if you have a roof install solar panels. Turn off lights when not in use and unplug electronics when they are not in use. Get more ideas from nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute.
7) Reduce, reuse, recycle and replace.
It can be difficult to go even a day without buying something. So when you do buy, ask yourself if you really need it, is it going to last or can it serve multiple purposes – avoid buying one use items as much as possible. Do your homework about the brands you are buying from – and think about the provenance of – who made it, how was it made and who/what was effected along the way. If you are looking for inspiration check out our directory of conscious brands around Asia.
Remember, you’ve got the power.
Every dollar you spent, everything you give attention too, and how you spend your time, is a vote for the kind of world you want to see. And every little bit counts. Empower yourself with the knowledge and inspiration to make better choices and use your sphere of influence bring others along for the journey. The power lies with us as a collective, if we are strong enough, together we can effect mass change.
Ask yourself, what is the greater impact you want to have in the world? If you’re unsure where to start, head over to www.greenisthenewblack.asia to discover more.