As cases of Covid-19 continue to rise in Singapore, measures have been taken to keep us safe from the virus. The introduction of the circuit breaker has heavily altered our daily lives and habits. Countries like China, India, Spain, Italy and many more have seen a drastic decrease in pollution and air quality has improved since the lockdown. Amid this pandemic, can we adapt to a more sustainable lifestyle and make a positive impact to our environment?
Here are 5 sustainable habits you can adopt during this circuit breaker!
1. Use as much natural light as possible
Open up your curtains and let the light into your room! Using daylight is a more environmentally sustainable method as it relies on natural light to brighten up a room. It is a free and economical source that we can tap on especially when most of us are working or studying at home now during the circuit breaker period. Using natural light can reduce your energy consumption by as much as 10% and you are still able to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Researches have also shown that productivity and concentration level increases when there is sufficient daylight. So ditch the artificial lighting in the morning and embrace the morning sun!
2. Unplug your electrical appliances when not in use
Why can’t we just turn off our electrical appliances when not in use? Turns out switching off your appliances does not reduce your electricity consumption. Electronics and electrical appliances still draw electricity when switched off as they would be on “standby” mode. Being on standby allows them to be switched on faster when you need it and such electricity consumed by these appliances when turned off is known as standby power, or vampire power. Charging a phone uses 2.24 watts, and if you leave your charger plugged even after charging, it is still drawing about 0.26 watt of energy. While this number may be small, the number of unused appliances you left plugged in adds to the consumption of standby power. It may seem like a hassle to unplug them when you are not using it, but just by doing so, you can reduce electricity consumption up to 10%. This can save $200 or more in your yearly electricity bills and almost ¾ of a tonne of CO2 pollution.
One of the most important things to do to be sustainable is to reduce your carbon footprint. You can easily do so by conserving energy and change starts from home. To make things easier, you can use a power strip to connect all your electrical appliances and unplug it to turn off clusters of devices at one go. Just by taking this additional step, you will thank yourself when you receive your utility bills later on.
3. Shop sustainability
With the circuit breaker policy implemented, your favourite clothing stores like H&M, Uniqlo and more are forced to shut their physical stores and turn to online sales. This means that you are restricted to online shopping. Rather making purchases online and regretting when the size does not fit, why not go on a fast fashion detox. I understand, fast fashion produces cheap yet good looking clothes, but do you know that it is one of the largest contributors to waste and pollution? This industry produces 10% of humanity’s carbon emission, consumes large amounts of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the oceans with microplastics.
Since we are all stuck at home during this circuit breaker period, we will be in our pajamas most of the time. You do not need more clothes, you are not able to wear the new clothes out anyway. Use this period to limit your purchases on new apparels, make this a norm. You can still be fashionable with simple outfits, all you need are basics and confidence.
If you insist on changing into different outfits everyday, try supporting sustainable clothing brands instead.
One example is Patagonia. Their cotton is certified organic and 56% of fabrics are bluesign certified. Furthermore, a good number of their materials are made from recycled fabrics, including its polyester, nylon, and wool. By using recycled cotton fiber, they are reducing their CO2 emissions by 70% as compared to using conventional cotton. While using such materials, their clothes remained of high quality, long lasting, and fashionable!
Make small steps to change your shopping habits and you can start now, during this circuit breaker period!
4. Support local, buy local
Due to the pandemic, global shipping is largely affected and this means that our food supply from other countries may reduce. However, our government has taken measures to ensure we still have enough food. So firstly, stop panic buying! Your 20 packets of instant noodles and toilet rolls will start rotting in your cupboards.
Secondly, if you are worried about global food supply, why not make a switch and support local harvest?
The closer to home these products are made and bought, the less carbon is created during transportation. International products have travelled over 1500 miles to reach your plate and to transport these products, causing high volumes of fuel consumption and air pollution. By supporting local food brands, you are cutting down on your food miles and essentially, your environmental impact of your food.
Here are 2 local brands you can get food from:
Quan Fa Organic Farm has been cultivating organically grown food crops since 1999. To ensure only the freshest produce, they abstain from the use of pesticides and harmful fertilizers. They have grown from their humble beginnings to one of the leading distributors in Singapore.
Ah Hua Kelong rears and sells seafood, mainly specialising in grouper, seabass, golden pomfret, flower crab, and extra large mussels. This seafood distributor and restaurant is especially popular among Singaporeans as they serve the one of the freshest seafood.
5. Bring your own
We are only left with the option of taking away food from food providers ever since the circuit breaker policy banned us from eating out. Such measures would only cause an increase in plastic waste in Singapore. About 700 million kg of plastic waste is discarded every year and studies have shown that disposables used in takeaway food and for dining-in accounted for more than one-tenth of such waste. If we continue to keep up with such a lifestyle, by 2050, more plastics would be found in the ocean compared to fish by weight.
Since you are bringing the food back home to eat, just make a conscious choice of bringing your own container. If you are worried about the virus, just practice proper hygiene. Wash your container properly with soap and water before handing it to the vendor. If you see that the eatery is not practicing proper hygiene procedures, why are you still patronising them? By bringing your own container, you can help these food vendors reduce their packaging expenses and curb shortages in supplies, especially when supplies are limited due to the lockdown in Malaysia. You are also playing your part to become a more socially responsible person.
The habit of bringing your own should also be applied to grocery shopping. By using reusable, you could potentially save the lives of more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals every year. Furthermore, studies have shown that if you bring your own bags, you are more likely to choose more environmentally friendly products when grocery shopping. Use this circuit breaker to reduce your contribution to the plastic waste in Singapore and you can start by bringing your own containers and bags.
As we continue to practice good personal hygiene and social distancing, use this chance to change your lifestyle to a more sustainable one as well. A little effort goes a long way and we can all do our part to make the world a better place for all of us.