An unfortunate consequence of today’s mass consumerism lifestyle is that the average consumer has very little knowledge of the true impact of our buying decisions.
It’s a pity but we don’t really know what goes into the product we buy and use. We can only guess at what toll was exacted upon the environment just so we could have those cute slippers with the faux fur trim. And then there’s all that plastic and packaging waste that’s choking our planet to death with every passing second.
But we don’t have to stand idly by. Buying from manufacturers whose practices and beliefs align with ecological, ethical practices is an effective and satisfying way to make sure we are truly doing all we can for our precious planet. We only have the one.
The pioneer of zero-waste stores in Singapore, Unpackt does away with trash by selling by the gram. You simply bring your own containers, fill up on what you want, at the quantity you need, and pay only for the portion you took. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save this way.
The shop stocks a collection of sundries, food staples and groceries, from organic nuts and seeds to pasta, honey, dried chilli, organic dried figs, organic breakfast cereal and organic rock salt, along with cleaning agents and household and lifestyle items — all ecologically sourced of course.
Address: 6 Jalan Kuras, 577724, tel: 8518 0372
Another brand championing a zero-waste lifestyle is Eco.Le, which lives by the principle that “every little bit counts”. Similar in concept to Unpackt, it advocates bring your own container or using one of their free cleaned reuseable containers to purchase their goods. Besides bulk sale of condiments, dried goods, cereals and other groceries, Eco.Le also provides lunch boxes, reusable straws, eco-friendly household toiletries, such as bar soaps and liquid soaps, and cleaning products.
The little shop even offers soy-wax candle refillings and classes on making your own household items or beverages, such as Kombucha. Customers can also rent cutlery and sewing machines, and swap containers and bottles for reuse.
Address: 170 Upper Bukit Timah Road, #03-56, 588179
The good folks behind Reprovisions just wanted to satisfy cravings with healthy, sustainably sourced snacks. This led to a greater awareness and desire to do more for the environment, culminating in the opening of this zero-waste grocery and lifestyle store. Their motto? “Refill and Relish” — something we can totally get onboard with.
By replacing buying with refilling, Reprovisions offers an elegant and fuss-free alternative to wasteful practices. Today, the store stocks a range of eco-lifestyle products and grocery items, including staples, nuts, seeds, superfoods, snacks and dried goods — all package-free. There’re even candies and handmade chocolates for truly responsible snacking. Bring your own containers and refill away!
Address: 63 Jurong West Central 3, #03-32/33 Jurong Point 2, 648331
If you’re a frequenter at fairs and pop-ups, you’re likely to run into The Zero Ways.
With a mission to help others understand what living with zero waste means, and how to start on the journey themselves, The Zero Ways hold talks, workshops, such as beeswax wrap-making workshops, and storytelling for children. They also offer food-products you can buy in bulk, homeware, and a range of eco-lifestyle options — all plastic-free — so you can put in practice what you’ve learned.
Behind clothing and fashion needs, our beddings probably come a close second when it comes to our consumption of fabrics and the accompanying impact to the environment. Thanks to local brand Sojao (which means “go to sleep” in Hindi), you can opt for choices that are healthier for both the planet and yourself.
Featuring 100 per cent all-organic cotton at just 300 thread count, Sojao’s range of sustainable bedding gives higher thread count rivals a run for their money. The secret lies in their use of single-ply yarn spun from long-staple cotton fibres. (Shorter staple fibres produce rougher textiles.)
And considering that we spend one-third (or more!) of our lives rolling around in bed, it’s reassuring to know that Sojao’s products are treated with low-impact dyes that are not only safer for the environment, but also better for us, being free from toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde resins. They also support ethical fair-trade and sustainable cotton farming.
Natural fibres are great for both the environment and your skin. Mix up your wardrobe with bamboo and flax-made linen from Zhai Eco, and you’ll be helping to stave off global warming, while keeping your cool in Singapore’s tropical humidity. How exactly? Natural fibres are a renewable resource that breaks down naturally, helping prevent the clearing of land for cultivation and doesn’t choke up the environment when disposed.
Moisture-wicking and air permeability are key, and you’ll find plenty of both across a full fashion range. We’re talking dresses, cardigans, slit skirts, culottes — even hoodies for your sporting needs. Get your man in on the act with Zhai’s range of classic short- and long-sleeved tops.
Available at: United Square, Tanglin Mall, Scotts, Westgate and The Green Collective SG
Tropical apparel made from 100 per cent organic cotton, grown sustainably without harm to the environment — that’s what you’ll find at Baliza Shop.
Come for the breezy, playful, girlish prints, stay for the female empowerment. You see, every purchase you make lets you contribute directly to helping Indian NGO Ladli support Gudri women through imparting traditional block printing and embroidery skills. The beneficiaries are not only guaranteed a fair salary, they also receive emotional support and important financial education. A good cause to get in on.
Fast fashion today encourages a ‘disposable’ mindset among women consumers of fashion, leading to systemic issues that garner waste. Local fashionwear label Esse wants to change it all, with timeless pieces highlighting clean silhouettes in neutrals and classic shades, made out of sustainable and environmentally materials such as tencel, bamboo and 100 per cent organic cotton.
Get this: All pieces on offer are handmade, lovingly created from scratch in Ho Chi Minh City and Chiang Mai, where the label has forged a strong and respectful partnership with its seamstresses.
Brazil-crafted Veja sneakers not only look good, they will make you feel good too.
That’s because the brand uses only sustainable materials in the manufacture of its sneakers, choosing natural Amazonian rubber over petroleum-based options. Vegetable-tanned leather and ecological cotton complete the holy trifecta that makes Veja the first ethically sourced and manufactured mass market sneakers.
Buy a matching pair for your man too and make twice the impact. And ooooh, they have bags too…
Available at: Small Boutique, #03-08, Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road, 247933
While being green is not exactly what comes to mind when we think of Swiss luxury watch and jeweller Cartier, sustainability has actually been at the brand’s core since 2005. In fact, it was one of 14 founding members of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), which promotes responsible business practices in the supply chain of the fine jewellery industry.
Under the council, Cartier is mandated to ensure that their gems and metals are from legal sources and are produced via safe and environmentally-friendly methods, and is regularly audited to ensure just that. Interested in knowing more? You can read more about Cartier’s sustainability efforts here and here.
Other members of the RJC include Chaumet, Tiffany & Co. and Harry Winston.
Available at: ION Orchard and Marina Bay Sands.
Founded by former SilkAir flight attendant Terie Sim in 2017, the namesake label is her answer to uncomfortable and restrictive wired bras. She offers softwire bras and unwired bralettes, which are also made with organic bamboo — the fastest growing woody plant that can be grown in diverse climates around the world — that touts anti-bacterial, anti-odour and anti-UV properties.
Terie currently carries multiple colours for her designs, ranging from classic nudes to black, navy and feminine pink. Comfy, stylish and green. We love.
For those who love adventure and getting lost in the wild, outdoor wear company Patagonia would not be a stranger to you. With a mission statement “We’re in business to save our home planet,” Patagonia has various measures that reflect their environmental beliefs — from using recycled materials and tencel (lyocell and modal fibres that are produced by environmentally responsible processes from sustainably sourced natural raw material wood) to donating one per cent of sales to non-profit One Percent For The Planet, which fights for land preservation and sustainable energy production.
In addition, Patagonia has an initiative called Worn Wear, that allows people to trade in worn Patagonia pieces which the company will then repair and resell to help extend the lifespan of each article of clothing.
Reformation prides itself on creating modern, wearable pieces that flatter the female figure, whether you’re a bride, a bridesmaid or just looking for your next outfit.
But beyond that, Reformation takes its environmental impact very seriously. As much as possible, Reformation uses deadstock fabrics, recycled and greener fibres such as tencel. Each item also comes with a display on how sustainable it is, based on the amount of carbon dioxide, water and waste savings it has garnered. The company has also listed its sustainable practices such as sourcing electricity made from wind power on its website.
Founded by Aloysius Sng who discovered that his wife doesn’t wear the majority of her wardrobe (oh snap!), the homegrown secondhand fashion label connects people who are looking to unload their closets and earn some cash in exchange.
With brands such as Love, Bonito, Topshop and The Tinsel Rack across categories of clothes, watches and bags, Refash is a marketplace where you can buy and sell your clothing simultaneously. Some of the pieces are pretty on-trend and in good condition too, not to mention very affordable. Say good bye to throwing old clothes.
By Chip Chen and Ho Guo Xiong, April 2019
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