Sustainability, like courtesy, begins at home. The core principle of sustainability is to reduce waste. Don’t buy that new coffee cup, you don’t need a new bag made out of recycled water bottles just because it’s sustainable. And you most definitely don’t need a pair of collapsible utensils.
Given the seemingly sudden trend of forgoing plastics and disposables, you might feel compelled to buy new sustainable items. If you find yourself doing that, stop. You don’t have to buy new things to reduce waste. Instead, start leading a waste-less life by making an effort to use things you already have at home.
The execution of new habits is always tough, but if you stay disciplined and stick to it, these habits will feel second-nature in no time. I’m sure you’re familiar with all the things mentioned here, especially when they are within reach. Read on as we take a close look at very simple but effective ways you can be sustainable with the things you already have at home.
There is a water bottle residing in a dark corner of your kitchen cabinet. Wipe off the dust and start using that bottle again. Bring your water bottle out to remind yourself to drink up amidst the hot and humid weather of our little red dot. On top of that, you won’t have to spend money on disposable plastic water bottles straight off the supermarket shelf. #LifeHack: Did you know that if you bring your bottle to Starbucks, you can get a 50 cent discount?
Save money on having to pay for disposable takeaway containers by bringing a lunch box from home. And for ease of reheating up your food, use a microwave-safe container, this way you won’t have to do double duty by having to wash dishes you would’ve used to prepare dinner.
Remember that random tote bag that you got from that campus open house years ago? Instead of letting it idle in the dark depths of your closet, utilise it as a grocery bag. Reduce your use of single-use plastic bags by using any type of cloth bag you have laying around. This way, you won’t have to double bag your heavy items at check-out.
Unfold a piece of newspaper into its full size and you’ll realise that you could probably fashion the newspaper to line a small to medium-sized bin. Layer as needed—more layers for wet waste and fewer layers for dry trash. When the bin is full, take the newspaper that hangs over the mouth of the bin and simply bunch the sides together and dispose of your trash in the rubbish chute.
Do you have a pile of t-shirts that you don’t wear anymore? If you can’t be bothered to donate or sell them, give these clothes a new life by repurposing them. There are so many things you can do with old clothes. Cut up an old shirt and turn it into a rag, floorcloth or a handkerchief for your cutleries to be wrapped into when you bring them out.
If you’re already going to bring your Tupperware out to take away your food, you’ll need utensils to bring that food into your mouth from your container. Why subject yourself to flimsy plastic fork and spoons or risk getting a wood fibre getting stuck in your lips with disposable wooden chopsticks when you can bring out your substantial and sturdy metal cutlery. Trust me, it’s extremely painful and uncomfortable to have a wood fibre pierce the delicate skin of your lips. I speak from a breadth of experience.
Don’t just throw that old umbrella away after it’s been bent out of shape one too many times by strong winds. Upcycle your umbrella by removing the metal parts of the body from the hood of the umbrella. It’s easier than you think. Simply cut the threads that hold the waterproof material to the metal body and you have a substantial piece of material that you can use to make into anything. From waterproof pouches to bag covers, you don’t need a fancy sewing machine to get the job done.
The best way to unwind from a long day of work is to take a nice hot shower. But often, water takes longer to heat up than we would like. Instead of letting that cold water go to waste, collect it in a bucket and use it for other purposes. You can use the water to flush your toilet, mop your floors, wash your dishes and water your plants. Every drop is precious in water-scarce Singapore so let’s be more conscious with our water usage.
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