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Environmental news: Tips for being green

Want to do your part in helping the planet? Here are some events that will help the environment plus helpful tips to keep your home green.

Is there anything more important than making the world a better place? We think not! Here is our monthly update on whats happening now. For other tips for being green and where to recycle in Singapore see our environment section – we are keen for us all to make a difference.


Is it Sustainable?

WWF has continued its call to encourage the uptake of sustainable palm oil with a new campaign naming and shaming local companies for their actions. Though Singapore has been lucky to escape transboundary haze this year (who could forget the polluted skies of 2015?), the increasingly frequent appearance of haze is primarily linked to unsustainable practices in the palm oil industry. Of 47 brands surveyed by WWF across Singapore and Malaysia, NTUC rated well for its approach on sustainability, while Wildlife Reserves Singapore and Denis Asia-Pacifi c (manufacturer of Ayam Brand products) are also leading the way. One of the frightening aspects of the survey is that 66 percent of companies questioned are nontransparent and over 80 percent don’t source sustainable palm oil, many citing a lack of consumer concern as a reason. The WWF hopes to tackle this apathy by urging people to give voice to their concerns. palmoil.sg

Facts about palm oil

• Southeast Asia has suffered from frequent occurrences of haze since the early 1980s. In 2015, haze was estimated to cost Singapore over half a billion US dollars, and Indonesia a whopping US$34 billion.
• Significant deforestation takes place in Southeast Asia, which produces 86 percent of the world’s palm oil. Sumatra has lost 55 percent of forest cover since 1985, an area seven times the size of Singapore every year.
• Palm oil is the world’s most produced, consumed and traded vegetable oil, and the industry employs more than five million people in Southeast Asia alone. It has a higher yield per hectare compared to soy, coconut and sunflower.
• Choosing certified sustainable palm oil will set you back less than 1 cent extra per litre.


Beauty from By-products

British company FRUU sells handmade lip balms made from the by-products of processed fruit waste. Vegan-friendly and not tested on animals, these are one of a growing number of sustainable cosmetics hitting the market. The lip balms are made to order and sent by post. fruuurskin.com


Just Say No!

Still get an odd look when you say no to plastic bags or offer your own cloth bag at the store? The situation may soon change, with talks held last month between Singapore’s four main supermarket chains about placing a cost on plastic bags. The aim is to encourage consumers – regardless of where they shop – to reduce use of plastic bags, or stop it altogether. Some Singapore retailers have been doing this successfully for years: IKEA only sells reusable bags, for example, and sporting warehouse Decathlon does the same. Nor is the idea of a surcharge on plastic bags a new notion – plastic bags are banned in more than 40 countries, from Bangladesh to Kenya


Cut the Cups!

Environmental news

Last month’s three-day homage to the brown bean, the Singapore Coffee Festival, is an indication of how seriously we take our daily caffeinated beverage. But have you thought about the cup you drink it in? If it’s a takeaway, it’s likely a cup that looks recyclable but actually isn’t, because of the plastic coating. The issue takes on greater weight when you consider how many cups are disposed of – in Australia alone, it’s estimated at 2.7 million a day. Yet it’s so easy to bring your own reusable cup to your local café; the KeepCup is one popular example. And, if you like to linger in a café rather than grab a takeaway, you’ll soon be able to drink from the new HuskeeCup. The environmentally friendly cup is made from coffee husk, the outer shell of the bean discarded during the milling phase. It’s chip- and crack-resistant and should look right at home on the counter of the hippest café. The cup raised US$113,000 in crowd-funding – far exceeding its modest target of US$20,000. huskee.co


A Price on Gorillas

Fauna & Flora International has applauded the Rwandan government, one of three countries with responsibility for the critically endangered mountain gorilla, for doubling the price – from US$750 to $1,500 – for spending one hour with gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park. They say the change will ensure tourism grows within ecological limits. fauna-flora.org

Environmental news


Mission Accomplished

Good news! Last month, we reported on the urgent appeal of the WWF for protecting the wild Asian elephant population in Myanmar, on account of heavy poaching of adults and calves to satisfy a new demand for their skins. The NGO reports that over 1,000 generous people contributed more than S$70,000, enough to fund two anti-poaching squads, plus training, surveillance equipment and transport. savetheirskins.com

Environmental news


Re-thinking that time of the month

Like nappies, female sanitary products cop criticism because they are disposable and nonbiodegradable. The good news is that we now have choices, thanks to the release of several innovative and environmentally friendly products.

Singapore based Freedom Cups are silicon cups that are inserted into the cervix to collect menstrual fluid. Manufacturers say one cup can be reused for up to 15 years. An alternative, also made from silicon, is the Diva Cup, which offers up to 12 hours of protection. Another option, possibly more appealing for teenage girls, is Thinx – absorbent anti-microbial underwear worn during menstruation. Nicknamed “period panties”, they’re made from four layers of fabric and can be worn all day, washed and re-used. freedomcups.org | divacup.com | shethinx.com


Love the environment? Read how you could do more here.

20 spots for nature lovers

Where to recycle in Singapore

Can clean meat really save the planet?


This article first appeared in the September 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!