In the last of this three-part series, travel host and ELLE Singapore cover girl Denise Keller shares her experiences as a green advocate, plus practical advice on what we can all do to stay sustainable.
I am privileged and honoured to have been able to visit many countries around the world to learn about their people, their culture, and their land. Being a travel and adventure host certainly does have its perks, and I constantly remind myself of just how lucky I am to be presented with these opportunities.
Some places have shown me great wonders and brought me immense joy but others have left me bewildered and angry, wondering why they are actively destroying their home.
Government agency marketing campaigns are great for creating awareness and letting all of us know about the problems we face when it comes to a sustainable future. However, everyday actions of you and I, and how we go about our daily lives, will lead the way in making a real, noticeable, difference.
So, while the “big picture” is important and we need NGOs to give us all the right guidance, we don’t have to physically see polar ice caps melting or rainforests being destroyed to understand the importance of protecting our planet. In the case of eco-living, looking at the “small picture” is just as vital.
It seems to be getting hotter and hotter in Singapore, and 34degC seems more like the norm than the exception. The haze is now an unwelcomed annual visitor at about this time every year. Prices for consumer goods have risen significantly over the years as well.
What’s more, have you noticed, with higher frequency now, that trash is strewn everywhere, used cooking oil is poured down the drain on the streets, water is left running, lights are not switched off when everyone has left the room, paper is not being recycled, unused food being thrown away because of over-buying?
Think about what is affecting you right now in your own home. Every decision we make can impact the stress levels on our planet. How we consume daily products and the choices we make does affect us now. In fact, don’t think we, THINK I. Here are 3 simple ways where you can start making a difference right now:
1. Bring your own bag for the next grocery shopping trip
The next time you head down to the supermarket, bring your own plastic bags from your previous shopping trip. Better yet, invest in a few eco-friendly bags and have those on you whenever you go out. When the cashier puts your purchase in a bag, you can say – “No thanks, I’ve brought my own”.
By doing this you will have avoided one plastic bag that would otherwise have taken thousands of years to disintegrate, or clog our waterways or get swallowed up by sea animals, if not disposed properly. If five million Singaporeans did just that, we would consume at least five million less plastic bags, and that is with just ONE shopping trip.
2. Get a lunch container
Another easy-peasy thing to do is to bring your own lunch container. I know only plus points for doing this. You know your container is clean. You are eating healthier, because hot food and plastic is just not good. You save 20 cents. And if your container is a thermos, your hot food stays hot. And once again, if five million of us did just that, we would have saved on five million plastic lunch boxes and cutlery, and that is with just ONE meal.
3. Be mindful of how you use paper
There are, however, some products that you cannot do away with. Paper is an example. While making sure we use both sides of the paper, and recycling them afterwards, making a conscious decision to purchase paper from sustainable sources is key to offer our contribution.
When I was given a tour of the Double A paper making process in Thailand a couple of months ago, I was delighted to learn of their innovative way to source the wood to make paper with, by planting fast growing trees on “KHAN-NA”, vacant spaces around rice fields. This brings out the best value of these empty spaces that would otherwise be unused. Double A goes by ‘No waste is wasted’, and I think we can learn a thing or two from that. I have been working with Double A on its 1Dream1Tree campaign that allows all of us to plant paper trees from KHAN-NA under our name, and to help continue their clever way to grow trees to make paper.
Through my personal experiences, I have witnessed some horrible things human beings are doing to the planet, and it drives me to campaign hard for a sustainable future for all of us. It really is down to each one of us, no matter who we are.
So, who really wins by being green? I think you know the answer to that.
For more on Living, head here. Or check out 7 Lessons I’ve Learnt From Sustainable Production and Everyone Needs To Read This Before They Carry On With Life.