We understand how disappointing it is to be on the go, grab a salad, and realize you forgot your cutlery. Nothing says buzzkill like lunch served with a side of single-use plastic. Fortunately, saving the planet (and your sanity) has never been easier thanks to barePack, a service that looks to save Singapore of single-use plastic.
We are the first to admit that it can sometimes be a pain in the butt to bring your own everything every time you want to eat on the go. I mean, who doesn’t love a last-minute meal out and even the occasional cheeky boba (or bubble tea). BUT…while we certainly try our best to avoid the disposables that usually come paired with these not-very-conscious but usually-very-delicious decisions, let’s face it, we don’t always walk around with an extra lunchbox in our back pocket. Fortunately, for those in Singapore, barePack is en route to save you from carrying around your reusable arsenal (bye-bye bag lady) and still say no to single-use. barePack founder Roxane Uzureau gave us the skinny on what to expect when the service rolls out later this year.
GITNB: Thanks for catching up with us. We’re so excited for you to roll out in Singapore. Where have you been all this time?
barePack: Is this how you’ve been feeling? We feel you. We’ve just moved from living overseas, in countries where it’s not common to eat out at every meal so we weren’t offered disposables like we are in here Singapore, where the takeaway culture is strong. We tried to find a way around it here, but after a few months, it became obvious that trying to go against the norm wasn’t great and something had to be fine to solve the dilemma for everyone.
So, how did the idea for barePack come about?
You’re forever being told to bring-your-own-bag, bring-your-own-cup, container, bottle, etc. How many items do we need to carry to be green? We did the BYO thing too, and to be fair, it’s a pain. And not because vendors aren’t nice, in fact, often they applaud it and sometimes a hawker might even have a chuckle (“oh, here comes the straw and spoon lady for a coconut”). But then you’re stuck with a box you can’t always clean, or it doesn’t fit your purse. Other days you just forgot it on the counter this morning (for the 4th time this week). But every time, there’s this moment of internal conflict where you battle with your conscience whether to get the coffee or not.
There have been some arguments for eco-friendly disposable. Are those not a sufficient enough alternative?
Disposable is never eco-friendly. Quit the excuses! With plastics being heavily demonized, there’s a rush to find the ultimate green disposable saviours. Actually, compostables make no sense in Singapore as they often end up in an incinerator. Of what we use, a study commissioned by the NEA found that single-use plastic containers resulted in the most greenhouse gas emissions and energy use during their life cycle as they are made from crude oil. So you ask, what about the “eco-friendly” disposables? The results also showed that the manufacturing process for single-use paper boxes with an inner plastic sheet is energy-intensive, and while they score relatively low on greenhouse gas emissions, their production entails a high consumption of water. The conversion of large tracts of forest land also affects our planet’s ability to mitigate global warming and diminishes wildlife populations to the point of near extinction. Finally, disposables are used for a fraction of their intended life span, meaning a real waste of carbon footprint.
We’re so happy that we won’t feel bad getting a boba anymore (well, except for the calories). How will we know if you’ve partnered with a shop?
We should not be made to feel guilty, nor should we have to choose between the latest Tiger Hu flavour and combating global warming. But how do we make our takeaway culture work with green practices that do not lessen convenience? By providing a service that allows you to choose takeaway in a reusable lunch box or cup over disposables. Anywhere you see a barePack logo, you’ll never have to BYO.
Step by step, can you break down the entire BYO process for us?
Once you become a barePacker, you can pick from one of our many partners to have lunch at. From Pizza Express to SaladStop, we have outlets all over the city. When you place an order, scan the vendor QR at the counter to let us know that you’re picking up in a barePack. Then show the vendor your confirmation screen. When you’re done, you can simply return the containers. You don’t even need to go back to where you made your purchase, simply drop it off at any other partner vendor.
And when do you expect to start rolling out the service?
We are preparing our launch in September or October. You can also sign-up for free now and you’ll be the first to know when the app is ready to download.
Finally, what are the #LittleGreenSteps you swear by?
Once you start using barePack, you’ll be #LittleGreenStepping every day. But until then, you can help us grow the network by including your favourite places and telling us where you’d like to see barePack. Whether it’s the coffee shop in your office lobby or the laksa down the road, we want to know. If you’re a champion, you can even send them a message on social media letting them know you want them to adopt us. We’ve even written it for you, simply copy and paste:
Hey! I love your menu, but I wish you had fewer disposables for takeaway. Could you join the barePack service so that together we can reduce single-use? Thanks!
Remember a single reusable container over five years could replace at least 3,650 pieces of single-use items. With the alarming statistic from WWF that we’re eating at least a credit card worth of plastic a week, surely now’s a good time if any to cut down on disposable plastics? Take action!