In the second 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.
We are living far beyond the Earth’s capacity to support us as we are really consuming so much so quickly. So sustainability is really about meeting our present-day needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Each of us can find ways in our lives to conserve resources. And one of these is to vote with your consumer dollar, choosing products that are sustainably made.
I was invited by Khun Thirawit Leetavorn, senior executive vice-president of paper brand Double A, to Prachinburi in Thailand so I could see for myself how environmentally sustainable its manufacturing plant is.
I was especially eager to find out how the company grows trees using a method called “KHAN-NA”, which means utilising the vacant spaces around and in between farmers’ rice fields to plant trees. This draws the best value out of these spaces that would otherwise be unused, and gives local farmers additional income.
After spending two days in Prachinburi, here are a few things I learnt that everyone can practice:
#1 Consume sustainable products
You may not have noticed, but many products on the market do come from truly sustainable sources – including paper! Read the labels and learn their processes before you buy!
#2 Start with yourself
Do your bit to reduce your carbon footprint. Walk more. Cycle to work. Travel by bus or train more often. Drive less. I saw many Double A employees in Thailand riding their bicycles to work, and while it might not be feasible for us Singaporeans to do the same, we can certainly consider taking public transport.
#3 Sharing is caring
If you have any great sustainability tips, don’t keep them to yourself. Let others know about them so they can all contribute to eco-living.
#4 Sustainability has more than one dimension
I used to associate green efforts with purely environmental benefits, but the more I learned about them, the more I realised they can often also create a positive impact socially and economically.
#5 There are more ways than one to contribute
Sustainability efforts stretch way beyond recycling or donating cash to a worthwhile cause. You might think activities such as planting a tree are out of reach and too difficult to achieve for us who live in Singapore – but that’s not the case. Visit www.1dream1tree.com to see how you can get involved.
#6 Minimise wastage
Manufacturing companies look for ways to reduce costs by maximising the usage of the raw materials they obtain. We can do the same by making the effort to work out what we need versus what we might merely want.
An example would be the weekly groceries that we buy. Supermarkets and wet markets are everywhere, and we all lead hectic lives, so do we really need to have a full fridge at all times? If you have an unpredictable schedule, consider shopping for food on your way home from work. Or how about only buying what you need to cook that evening?
Over-buying and letting food rot impacts both your wallet and the environment – and just think about the number of people who go without food daily.
#7 One thing at a time
There are so many ways we can make a green difference and there are a lot of worthwhile initiatives out there that we can get involved with. Work out where your area of passion is and take your time to learn about how you can get involved and whom with.
We can all contribute to building a sustainable future for Singapore. I certainly learned a lot with Double A in Thailand, which gave me another perspective to eco-living. You too can do your bit to support sustainable production and consumption. Let’s join the farmers and eco-conscious companies around the globe in their commitment to sustainable production, and help build a better world for everyone.
For more posts from Denise, check out Everyone Needs To Read This Before They Carry On With Life. For more Living stories, head here.