First, a disclaimer: a zero waste lifestyle is not entirely possible - some things just break, or have a limited lifespan. But we can certainly afford to produce less waste. Singapore generated 7.7 million tonnes of waste in 2018 alone, which is equivalent to the weight of 530 thousand double decker buses. Though wider, systemic changes remain widely outside of our control, we can do our part to reduce the waste we generate, starting from home. Less waste means less carbon emissions, which can help to slow down the process of climate change.
Here are a few simple switches and hacks you can take to start reducing the waste you take from your very own kitchen.
These are one of the most effective methods to getting rid of food waste, while allowing for the soil and plants in our gardens to grow healthily. There are a few options you can choose from, such as Smart Cara, a high tech option which holds up to a kg of food, or Tumbleweed Tumbling compost bins, ideal for urban farmers and gardeners.
Change your scouring pad
Our dish sponges are perhaps one of our most used items in the kitchen. Unfortunately, most of us use synthetic sponges, which are actually environmentally hazardous waste materials - each time you use those cheap, little sponges, you are accidentally washing tiny plastic particles a.k.a. Microplastics into the sea which are a threat to all coastal wildlife. Opt for sponges that are made with natural fibres and recycled materials instead, such as this biodegradable coconut scrub brush, or a hemp scourer.
Support local produce
Have you heard of food miles? Similar to carbon footprints, food miles are measured by the amount of CO2 emitted per mile for a tonne of food. As we do not have agricultural land in Singapore, most of our food is imported from 170 countries for our food security. So yes, that box of blueberries imported from Chile might not be the most environmentally friendly option. But there are a lot of urban farming sprouting up in Singapore, such as ComCrop, which uses significantly less food miles, making it the more environmentally friendly option. So do look out for local produce the next time you are at the supermarket
Grow your own produce
Try your hands at growing your own vegetables in your backyard! Perhaps starting from something as simple as microgreens, which take only a matter of days to grow, with minimal effort. Check this video below to make your DIY sprouts to start:
Use an environmentally friendly wrap instead of cling wrap
Want to keep your bread, veggies, cut fruit and leftovers fresh? Ditch the plastic cling wrap and opt for an environmentally friendly option instead, such as with beeswax cloth that will create a seal around the object.
Opt for linen pouches and nets to carry your food
Next time you head out grocery shopping, opt out of plastic bags and pouches and keep your fresh produce in linen pouches instead. Get it here.
Use glass storage containers
Using glass instead of plastic reduces landfill waste by a long shot. Recyling glass also uses up less energy, and does not release any toxins while it is being recycled, unlike plastic. But another benefit of storing your food in glass is this: it significantly extends the flavour and quality of your food, as it is known to repel food odours and residual flavours. Plus, reheating food in glass doesn’t release harmful chemicals onto your food like plastic does.
Buy your food at wet food markets and bulk food stores
If you’re tired of constantly coming across plastic packaging in your conventional supermarket, perhaps opt to shop at other places instead, such as your local wet food market, or at bulk food stores such as Scoop Wholefoods and Source Bulk Foods, for easier, zero-waste shopping.
Opt for natural cleaning ingredients
Cleaning products have been reported to contain harsh chemicals that may cause a threat to our health, but they are also harmful for the environment. You can simply opt to make your own cleaning soap, which also saves you money in the process. You can choose from white vinegar, salt, baking powder, lemon and many other environmentally friendly cleaning materials, such as a vegan dishwashing bar, instead.