The fifth edition of the Sustainability Open Innovation Challenge, organised by Enterprise Singapore, seeks innovative minds to devise sustainable solutions under key themes: Climate Change, Green Buildings, Sustainable Agriculture & Trade, Sustainable Materials, and an Open Category.
Successful innovators will gain a unique opportunity to engage in co-innovation with corporate partners. In addition, prizes include potential grant support, S$75,000 from Hexagon Group, as well as funding and real-world testing facilitated by industry pioneers. Learn more
The fashion industry has long been synonymous with change and innovation, yet with these advancements comes a controversial side – the problem of textile waste. Here are some practical ways to reduce textile waste and make a positive impact on the planet.
The fashion industry has long been synonymous with change and innovation, yet with these advancements comes a controversial side – the problem of textile waste. Textile waste is pollution caused by the production and disposal of textiles such as clothes, shoes, accessories, towels, sheets, curtains, mattresses and more. It has adverse impacts on the environment.
In production, various toxic chemicals, dyes, and heavy metals used in the making of textiles, when not properly managed, find their way into water systems through run-off, which can affect the water quality of water bodies like rivers and lakes and underground aquifers. Run-off contamination also poses health risks to local communities that consume or come into contact with contaminated water, poisons the soil, and disrupts the balance of aquatic ecosystems.
The fast-fashion industry contributes to textile waste in a significant way. In response to the demand for budget-friendly trendy clothing, companies produce products quickly with synthetic materials. Polyester, for example, is a type of plastic fabric that is made from petroleum-based substances. During its manufacturing process, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. Notably, the fashion industry produces 2-8% of global greenhouse gas emissions every year.
The combination of low prices, subpar quality, and fleeting trendy styles also perpetuates a cycle of disposable consumption, where items are bought and discarded shortly after.
When polyester textile ends up in a landfill, it does not break down. It only degrades over time into microplastics and further pollutes the land and water.
In Singapore, textile that does not get recycled gets incinerated along with the rest of our waste and further generates emissions and air pollutants. Particularly concerning is the incineration of garments crafted from synthetic fibres, as it may release microfibers into the atmosphere.
Fashion is a powerful form of storytelling through self-expression. When we don clothing, footwear, and accessories, it evokes a sense of self-confidence and positivity. We use it to communicate our identity, values and personal style. Fashion serves as a visual representation of who we are. Not to forget, fashion also serves a practical function, providing us with clothing suitable for different weather conditions or activities.
As individuals, we can make a difference by adopting sustainable practices in our fashion choices. Here are seven practical ways to reduce textile waste and make a positive impact on the planet.
Before making a new purchase, ask yourself if you need it. Consider the quality, versatility, and timelessness of the item. Choosing timeless pieces that can be styled in different ways extends the lifespan of your wardrobe.
Explore thrift stores, vintage shops, and second-hand online platforms. Buying pre-loved clothing not only gives garments a second life but also helps to reduce the demand for new production.
Host or participate in clothing swaps with friends, family, or colleagues. Clothing swaps are a fun and sustainable way to refresh your wardrobe without spending money or contributing to textile waste. Cloop, Swapaholic, and The Fashion Pulpit are a few local organisations to look out for. Connect with them to stay updated on their upcoming events.
Upcycle or Repair
Transform old or worn-out clothing into something new through upcycling. Turn old jeans into shorts, create a tote bag or a pouch from an old t-shirt, embroider designs or add patches to revive old garments.
Proper Clothing Care
Extend the life of your clothing by following proper care instructions. Wash clothes in cold water, air dry when possible, and avoid over-washing. Proper clothing care helps maintain the integrity of the fabric and prevents premature wear and tear, reducing your need to replace them.
Support Sustainable Brands
When purchasing new items, support brands that prioritise sustainability. Look for companies that use recycled materials, eco-friendly materials, have ethical manufacturing practices, and take-back programmes. By supporting these brands, you can contribute to a shift in the fashion industry towards more responsible and sustainable practices.
Donate or Recycle Responsibly
If you find yourself with clothing you no longer need, donate it to local charities or clothing banks. Ensure that the items are clean and in good condition. If the items are not fit for donations, explore recycling options. Cloop’s yellow bins, for example, accept items in any condition.
What are some practices you adopt to make less textile waste?
The Organic Composting for Gardening Programme discusses the importance of organic composting in gardening and its role in contributing to sustainability in Singapore. Key speaker Jayden Ong, co-founder of SoilSocial, will share about the practical aspects of organic composting at home and within community gardens.
What’s in my water? is a guided morning walk at Sungei Buloh that offers an opportunity to explore and familiarize yourself with the diverse land and coastal creatures and plants inhabiting the wetland reserve. Sungei Buloh comprises mangroves, mudflats, ponds, and forests, making it a tropical haven for a wide-ranging ecosystem that includes mudskippers, crabs, water snakes, monitor lizards, otters, and various other species.
The What’s in my water? tour is free. Limited to 12 participants on a first-come-first-serve basis. Registration opens at 8 a.m., 10th November. The walk will be cancelled if it rains.
3. East Coast Beach Plan Cleanups
Time: Friday, 10th November, Friday, 17th November, Friday, 24th November
Place: East Coast Park
The East Coast Beach Plan is a ground-up initiative for anyone interested to join or self-organise clean-ups to do their part to reduce plastic pollution from entering the ocean. Note that all sessions are ad-hoc and self-organised by interested individuals, nothing is really centrally organised. Do participate safely and at your own discretion and risk.
The Zero • Market is a sustainable lifestyle market, where fresh produce and sustainable goods are available! They are working towards Zero Waste, starting with Zero Meat and Zero Plastic (except for unavoidable plastic packaging). It takes place every 1st and 3rd Weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of the month unless otherwise stated. Visit the Zero • Market and don’t forget to bring your own bag!
Love Our Coast Beach Cleanup is an initiative led by georges to promote care and responsibility for the beaches and coastal ecosystems in Singapore. The cleanup process comprises an initial briefing, during which participants will receive cleaning equipment. Following the cleanup, they will be responsible for sorting the items collected from the beach.
Repair Kopitiam is an initiative designed to combat the disposable culture by offering a platform where individuals can mend their personal belongings with guidance and assistance from volunteer “Repair Coaches”. This do-it-yourself (DIY) repair event takes place on the final Sunday of each month at different locations throughout the country. To participate, attendees need to schedule a specific timeslot and are allowed to bring up to two items for repair during each session.
Booking opens on 10th November through 21st November. Read event house rules here.
7. Turning waste to energy: TuasOne Waste-To-Energy Plant Tour
Turning waste to energy: TuasOne Waste-To-Energy Plant Tour is a guided visit to Singapore’s sixth waste-to-energy plant. The plant can process about 35% of the garbage that Singapore generates daily, incinerating up to 3,600 tonnes of waste and generating up to 120 megawatts of electricity daily. Explore the facilities and learn about the technologies employed to turn waste materials into energy.
Edit: Wow! This tour is popular and completely booked out now. You can join the waitlist or organise your own group booking via the NEA Portal.
For the little ones:
8. Weird and Wonderful Plants
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Monday, 20th November
Place: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Centre for Education & Outreach
Organiser: National Parks
Weird and Wonderful Plants is a children’s workshop and guided tour through the Singapore Botanic Gardens to observe unique and strange plants in their natural habitat. Participants will discover plants with such as the Pitcher plant, Venus flytrap, Ant plant, and Air plant and learn about their important ecological roles, why plant life is crucial for the environment and why it’s essential to conserve biodiversity.
The Weird and Wonderful Plants workshop is $50 per child. Suitable for children in Primary 1 to 6.
Deep Field by Tin&Ed is an immersive art experience by Australian artists Tin Nguyen and Edward Cutting. The experience starts with a guided tour of the museum where participants will have a chance to design their own imaginary flora and fauna taking inspiration from the natural environment. Their creations will be added to a new ecosystem of plants revealed through the lens of Augmented Reality (AR). As participants immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the natural world, they are prompted to establish a deeper connection with and contemplate their relationship with our planet and nature.
The Deep Field by Tin&Ed workshop is free with registration. Click here for more information about Tin&Ed. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Book here to reserve a slot.
Starting from this year, 2023, major supermarkets in Singapore have started charging for disposable bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. Why is it important to get shoppers to switch from disposable bags to reusable bags?
Starting from this year, 2023, major supermarkets in Singapore have started charging for disposable bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. Since 3 July 2023, these larger supermarkets have been required to charge at least five cents for each disposable carrier bag regardless of the material––plastic, paper, biodegradable materials, and so on. Charging for disposable bags is an effort to get the nation-state on a journey towards zero waste.
Why is it important to get shoppers to switch from disposable bags to reusable bags?
Disposable products are often seen as counter to the principles of zero waste for several reasons. Disposables are designed to be used once and then discarded. They foster a culture of wastefulness and encourages the idea that resources can be used and discarded without considering their long-term environmental impact.
The production of disposable products depletes our natural resources, such as trees for paper products, oil for plastics, and water during the manufacturing process. On top of that, manufacturing, transportation, and the disposal of single-use products require energy, which often comes from non-renewable sources like fossil fuels. This energy use contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which drive climate change.
What’s more, once the product is used and disposed of, most of it ends up as landfill waste. Every year, around 200,000 metric tonnes of Singapore’s domestic waste are disposables. According to NEA, only 6% of the plastics that get tossed out in Singapore get recycled. Paper has a higher recycling rate of 37%. And biodegradable plastic bags don’t get recycled at all–– they are incinerated with the rest of our waste.
Funnily (or not), plastic bags were first invented in 1959 with the intention of saving trees. They were made as an alternative to paper bags, which were causing the destruction of forests. People were encouraged to switch to plastic bags. Sten Gustag Thulin, a Swedish engineer, who designed the plastic bag, would keep one folded in his back pocket to be re-used. By the end of the 90s, plastic bags almost entirely replaced paper bags around the world. They were seen as the cheaper alternative.
While disposables may seem cheaper upfront, they can be more expensive in the long run when we consider the environmental and societal costs.
Plastic disposables, for example, have been notorious for littering our landscapes, oceans, and waterways. They are lightweight and easily blown away by the wind. When plastic waste is mismanaged, they harm wildlife, disrupt ecosystems, and can persist in the environment for centuries.
By choosing disposables, we miss out on opportunities to promote recycling and reuse, which are key components of a zero-waste lifestyle. In contrast, the zero-waste movement encourages a shift away from disposable products and towards practices that reduce waste. Sten Gustag Thulin didn’t plan for the plastic bag to become a problem, but he did have the right idea––he carried a bag with him to be reused. So, next time you go shopping, remember to Refuse disposable bags, Reuse a bag you already have, and if you must, Recycle instead of throwing it in the trash.
In a world grappling with the repercussions of excessive plastic consumption, we, Singaporeans, are presented with an opportunity to lead the way in tackling plastic pollution.
This checklist focuses on reducing single-use plastics, a pressing concern in a densely populated urban environment like Singapore.
In a world grappling with the repercussions of excessive plastic consumption, we, Singaporeans, are presented with an opportunity to lead the way in tackling plastic pollution.
This checklist focuses on reducing single-use plastics, a pressing concern in a densely populated urban environment like Singapore. By minimizing plastic waste through reusable alternatives and fostering a culture of conscious consumption, we can help alleviate the burden on landfills and marine ecosystems, preserving Singapore’s natural beauty for generations to come.
A checklist to help you become more environmentally conscious and build good habits regarding single-use plastics:
Carry a reusable water bottle and coffee cup to reduce reliance on plastic bottles and cups.
Use a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing single-use plastic bottles.
Using a reusable water bottle and coffee cup reduces the need for single-use plastic containers, decreasing plastic waste in Singapore’s landfills and waterways.
Use reusable shopping bags or bring your own tote bag when shopping to avoid plastic bags.
Bring your own reusable shopping bag instead of taking a new plastic bag.
Reusable shopping bags reduce the demand for disposable plastic bags, which are a major source of litter and pollution and require resources to produce.
Decline plastic straws and utensils when dining out and choose venues that support this initiative.
Use metal or glass reusable straws instead of plastic straws. Or ditch straws altogether!
Plastic straws and utensils are often not recyclable and can harm wildlife when they enter ecosystems. It also reduces the carbon footprint associated with plastic production. Bring your own reusable straws if you prefer to enjoy your beverage with a straw.
Choose products with minimal plastic packaging or opt for items sold in bulk or with eco-friendly packaging.
Bulk food stores often provide ec0-friendly paper or glass packaging. You can also bring your own containers from home.
Choosing products with minimal plastic packaging lowers the demand for plastic production and reduces waste generation.
Encourage friends and family in Singapore to participate in plastic reduction efforts, such as BYO (Bring Your Own) campaigns.
Bring your own container when you purchase cut fruits from the fruit and juice stall.
Encouraging friends and family to participate in plastic reduction efforts spreads awareness and promotes a culture of sustainability in Singapore.
Image courtesy of BYO Singapore
Which eco-friendly habits are you adding to your everyday life, and which are you already doing?
This checklist promotes sustainable transportation alternatives, encouraging you to reduce your carbon footprint. By opting for public transit, carpooling, walking, or cycling, we can not only alleviate congestion but also contribute to cleaner air and a healthier urban environment in Singapore.
Singapore’s bustling urban landscape is characterised by its efficient transportation systems. However, this efficiency often comes at the cost of increased traffic congestion and air pollution. This checklist promotes sustainable transportation alternatives, encouraging you to reduce your carbon footprint. By opting for public transit, carpooling, walking, or cycling, we can not only alleviate congestion but also contribute to cleaner air and a healthier urban environment in Singapore.
Checklist to help you become more environmentally conscious and build good habits regarding transportation:
Use public transportation, such as buses and the MRT, for daily commutes and city travel.
Utilising public transportation reduces Singapore’s road congestion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions from personal vehicles.
Consider carpooling or ridesharing with neighbours or co-workers to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
Sharing rides reduces traffic congestion and lowers individual fuel consumption, decreasing Singapore’s air pollution levels.
Opt for walking or cycling for short trips and when possible.
Walking and cycling for short trips reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality in Singapore’s urban areas.
Explore Singapore’s extensive network of park connectors and bike paths for eco-friendly commuting and recreation.
The C2C Trail stretches 36 km, extending from Jurong Lake Gardens to Coney Island Park.
Using park connectors and bike paths promotes eco-friendly transportation and encourages outdoor activities.
Support initiatives like car-sharing services that promote shared vehicle use.
Car-sharing services reduce the number of vehicles on the road, decreasing air pollution and traffic congestion in Singapore.
Which eco-friendly habits are you adding to your everyday life, and which are you already doing? Comment below.