Get us in your inbox


Is Singapore finally embracing a sustainable way of life?

Sustainable living can become the new normal, but it’ll take more than swapping plastic straws for pretty metal ones

Delfina Utomo
Written by
Delfina Utomo

We aren't the only nation of offenders but in the blind pursuit of growth and development, there’s no denying we’ve been consuming and producing excessive waste. According to a research paper by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), our city of 5.5 million uses three billion plastic bags a year – that’s 545 bags per person, per year. This high usage isn’t just wasteful but leads to bigger problems like harming marine wildlife, affecting our landfill resources, adding stress to waste management issues, plus other environmental concerns.

Thankfully, over the last few months, sustainable living – in various forms – has been growing in Singapore. The very real realisation that our planet is getting overcrowded – we’re projected to grow from 7.2 billion to 9.6 billion in 2050 – over polluted and dying seems to have awakened sustainable movements across different avenues. From fashion and beauty to how we eat and drink, we question if a sustainable way of life is possible in Singapore.

The Good

The data says it all and people are finally aware that we can’t keep consuming the earth’s resources at our current pace. Cue the buzzwords: sustainable seafood, farm-to table, urban farming, eco-friendly, plastic-free, zero-waste, and more.

From standalone cafes like Plain Vanilla and Nylon Coffee Roasters to big players like KFC ceasing the use of plastic straws; green energy providers like Sunseap and ES Power opening up shop; the fashion scene switching it up with clothes-swapping becoming more of a thing and eco-friendly brands like Matter and Source Collections creating a buzz, sustainable efforts are becoming more apparent in Singapore.

While the major grocery stores still freely dole out plastic bags – we highly recommend bringing your own reusable bags – there have been more packaging-free and bulk store alternatives popping up around the city like Unpackt at OUE Downtown and Jalan Kuras in Ang Mo Kio. “It’s an interesting way to shop for sure, but it really puts things into perspective — the fact that you are buying only what you need,” says Nafeesa Saini, a recent convert to the zero waste grocery shopping movement.

Florence Tay, the store’s co-owner, finds it to be a more practical and frugal way of living life. “[There are] cost savings as shoppers do not need to pay for packaging,” she explains. Good for the environment and positive for our wallets, what’s not to love?

The Bad

Mukul Bhatia

That said, as a country of individuals who love a convenient lifestyle unfortunately, sustainability is not for all. Washing reusable straws and traveling across the island to hit up a bulk store, no matter its sustainable impact, or paying for eco-friendly clothing – Source Collections charges $35 for a plain tank top and a pair of pants can cost more than $129 at Matter – is simply out of the question for some. Plus the impact an individual can make can appear minuscule when big corporations are still polluting our air and oceans.

What we hope to see in 2019


While it’s great that there’s adequate education about the importance of living sustainably, it is equally important to reinforce the message that it’s a way of life that’s easy to adopt – and doesn’t have to cost a thing.

At its core, a sustainable lifestyle uses as few resources as possible and causes the least amount of environmental damage. And it’s not difficult as it sounds to get started. According to Florence, just follow a simple mantra, “Stop, think, then do. For example, before buying an item, consider how much you need it before charging it to your credit card. Stop and think before we throw, can we repair, reuse, repurpose or recycle before we end its life.”

    You may also like
    You may also like

    The best things in life are free.

    Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

    Loading animation
    Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

    🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

    Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!