My partner and I have been increasingly eco-conscious. We’ve been adopting some habits to reduce the impact we have on our beautiful earth. I’m recording the small steps I’m taking to leave no trace.
In the kitchen, our goal is healthy, responsible eating and cleaning up.
- We purchased a second-hand 5L dishwasher. I didn’t grow up with a dishwasher so we’re compromising with a “hybrid” model. 90% of dishes go into the washer if they’re “dirty” (meat, oil, sauce etc) and 10% I hand rinse (for example, knives that were only used on fruits and veggies). This has helped us conserve water and energy
- When we dine out, we refuse plastic straws, plastic cutlery. We’ve built a new muscle to always bring our 1) reusable metal straws, 2) titanium (or bamboo) cutlery, 3) collapsible silicon bowl or lunch box, 4) collapsible coffee cup
- When we do grocery shopping, we bring our tote bag. There are studies that show cotton bag’s high carbon footprint so we limited ourselves to only owning 2 and using it for 3+ years to offset the cost to produce the bag
- For waste, we’re finding it very difficult to compost in Singapore. We temporarily turned to biodegradable waste bags. Next step would be to have a small waste container and empty it directly into trash each night
In the laundry room, we have three goals: 1) reduce electricity usage (10% of a home’s total energy consumption goes to washing and drying clothes), 2) reduce water usage, 3) reduce toxins from grey water.
- Our washing machine is “high-efficiency” (HE) and also Energy Star compliant
- We only do 30 min cycles on cold wash as 75-90% of energy required to do a load of laundry actually goes towards heating up the water
- We don’t use a dryer. Instead, we dry our clothes via the sun
- Instead of your standard Tide, we’ve been using Earth Choice’s vegan-friendly, mineral-based, cruelty-free, grey water and septic system-safe, 100% recycled plastic laundry liquid. But, we were still not satisfied about consuming plastic at all. We quickly switched to baking soda, before I learned about Magchan (JP version) / TerraWash+Mg (International). Magchan (available at Tokyu Hands) is a small bag of magnesium that leaves zero traces of chemicals and is 100% free of toxic and synthetic chemicals. They also plant 1 tree for every pack you buy. The magnesium-soaked water can also be repurposed to 1) clean your washing machine, 2) grow plants. Learn more on their website
In the closet, I have a few rules for myself as $460 billion of *wearable* clothing is disposed each year (this is equivalent to the GDP of Thailand in 2017)
- Variety: I’ve started only buying second hand clothes or renting outfits. I found this to be more economical (financially and space-wise) and also better for the environment. I’ve been buycotting Zara and other fast-fashion brands after reading about the waste they generate. There are great apps like Carousell that gives used clothes a second chance, and companies like Rent the Runway that allow you to be fashionable while also environmentally-friendly
- Recycling outfits: all outfits in my closet are classified into 1) frequently worn (75%), 2) sometimes worn (24%), 3) not worn (1%). Every “season change”, I do an assessment and put all of 2) on an app for sale (opportunistically), and donate 3).
In the bathroom, I’ve been beefing up my skincare routine (as my wonderful friends have kindly shared that I won’t be young forever). I’ve recently learned that outside of “face lotion”, there’s a whole world of toners, serums, night cream, day cream, face masks and what not. The problem with a heavier routine means more plastics, more cotton pads and more waste. I’ve switched to the following:
- Reusable cotton face pads
- Magic makeup remover pads
- Reuseable cotton swabs
- Soap bars
- Shampoo bars. I’ve used Lush’s in the past and loved it, but am investigating a few other brands too as Lush is a pretty penny
- For sunscreen (which I think belongs here!) we’ve switched to natural (Zinc/Zinc Oxide only). Anything else that takes more than 3 seconds to figure out how to pronounce is coral-killing
In summary, being conscious of your habits and the impact they have on the environment is a great first step. I’ve found it exceptionally motivating to join Facebook communities like Journey to Zero Waste Life Singapore. They keep me informed, aware and educated.
The journey to zero-waste is difficult and long. This is just the beginning of my and Jack’s journey. There’s lots more we can do like growing our own vegetables, composting, toilets that reuse dirty hand washing water, but I’m happy to report that we took our first step and are (hopefully) on the fast track to doing more, and doing better!
(Sent from Singapore)