If you can do one thing this year to live more sustainably, pick from our list of how to quit single-use plastic. And stick with it.
Let’s just say it: Singapore has a long way to go when it comes to reducing plastic bag usage and snapping out of single-use plastic culture. So it still comes down to more of us choosing to reduce plastic waste in Singapore, stop contributing to the problem, and start living more sustainably. Does dipping into a zero-waste lifestyle sound overwhelming? It really isn’t. We can all make simple changes that bring us closer to being #plasticfreepeople. Here are a few small things to do that won’t cost the Earth…
Easy tips to reduce single-use plastic waste in Singapore
1. Bring your own damn bag
Stats your thing? Know this: a study by the National Environment Agency suggested that using one reusable bag over a year can prevent over 125 single-use plastic bags from going to waste. Besides, reusable bags can look pretty cool, no? Treat yourself to some of the funky foldable shoppers by Baggu (available at Rally Rally) and bring them with you everywhere.
2. Say no to plastic straws
We can drink straight from a glass at home and are equally capable of this when we enjoy takeaway drinks. But if you’re actually quite fond of sipping from a straw, ditch the single-use plastic versions and grab a reusable stainless steel, glass or bamboo number.
Is stainless steel your thing? Check out the ones by The Last Straw, which also come in smoothie and bubble tea sizes, so you’ve got no excuses. Or take a look at Sonder Social’s ethically-made goodies. The Clean Attempt has reusable straws in rose gold, and social enterprise cafe and lifestyle store The Social Space offers silicone straws. Our fave? Equo’s straws, which are made of coffee, grass, and sugarcane, and can be bought at The Green Collective.
3. Chug from your water bottle
Get yourself a sleek stainless steel Kleen Kanteen or a swish rose gold Swell bottle and fill her up with filtered water. Want your drink to stay cold all day? Our fave is the bamboo and stainless steel flask by Bamboo Straw Girl. Water in plastic bottles that’s been shipped around the world? Not a good look.
4. Bring a reusable coffee cup
All those takeaway coffee lids and the inexplicable plastic handles starting to gnaw away at you? Honestly, even the grumpiest kopi uncle in town doesn’t mind your KeepCup (available at The Wallet Shop) – especially if you take the lid off for him. We’ve tried the KeepCup and the Frank Green versions: the latter’s slightly harder to clean, thanks to the no-spill feature.
5. Grab a reusable container for your takeaway order
Yes, you can bring your own container to the hawker centre or food court for your takeaway meal. Almost nobody bats an eyelid, and you’ll even get a nod of approval from some aunties. Our current fave container is a gorgeous stainless steel tiffin from Metro (available at Lazada), which is the perfect size for cai png, yong tau foo, and mega salads. Bonus points for the handles!
6. Do you need that plastic cutlery?
If you’re heading back to your office with a takeaway, use cutlery from the pantry. If you’re heading home, use your own stash. But if you’re on the go, think about bringing your own. Pick up one of the zero-waste cutlery kits by Bamboo Straw Girl. Or put together your own kit with chopsticks, reusable straws, and the essential tissue pack for “chope-ing” your seat. We’re not gonna lie: we’re kind of in love with the locally-made Momshoo cutlery pouch. But most importantly, just say no to the cutlery or hand it back.
P.S. Kudos to Foodpanda and Deliveroo for switching to an opt-in function for plastic cutlery. Getting a bunch of unwanted plastic cutlery and chopsticks delivered to your home is infuriating. It’s about time we consider whether we really need the stuff when we order in.
7. Enough with the plastic-wrapped fruits and vegetables
Ah, the irony of the organic vegetables at the supermarket: wrapped in plastic and flown in from Spain and the US just to clock up extra food miles. Even the coconuts come in a plastic film. Right now, we’re rediscovering the wet markets and farmers’ markets around Singapore so we can buy loose produce and pack it in our own bags. Or you might want to check out why everyone’s into urban gardening.
8. Get to know your zero-waste grocery stores
This requires a bit of planning and involves bringing your own containers and bottles to refill with everything from olive oil to pasta. But it’s totally worth the effort to cut down on plastic waste in Singapore. Avoiding packaging is the best route! Head to The Social Space for its refillery, where you can BYO containers to fill up on laundry detergent, handwash and shampoos. Next, stop by Unpackt for soy sauce, vinegar, spices, and snacks. Psst: check out our guide to zero-waste groceries for more places to get into the routine of refilling.
9. Now, about that cling film…
Heads up: hormone-disrupting elements in single-use plastic are a whole other story, and Cancer Research UK warns against eating food that’s been in contact with heated cling film. Switch to storing your food in glass or ceramic containers with lids. Or, check out reusable Apiwraps from Neis Haus and Bee’s Wrap (available at Tangs). They are cotton treated with beeswax that you can use to cover bowls, wrap sandwiches, cheese, and more to keep your food fresh.
Bamboo Straw Girl has a selection of wild beeswax wraps, and The Clean Attempt offers beautiful wraps and even beeswax bars for repairing and extending the life of your wraps. Brilliant!
10. Don’t forget the bathroom
Did you know single-use plastic also extends into your bathroom? In case you’ve forgotten, plastics come in the form of shampoos, toothbrushes, and body washes… and everything adds up to pollution. Look for plastic-free alternatives, such as bamboo toothbrushes by The Humble Co, safety razors that s(h)ave the Earth, and solid soap and shampoo bars. You can do your part by cleaning up without the nasties.
It’s simple, right? Imagine what we can do to reduce plastic waste in Singapore if we all start with one of these moves…