The Future Is Green: Post-Challenge Thoughts From Our Eco-Ambassadors
What does it take to live sustainably everyday? We challenged our three Let's Get Down to Earth (#LGDTE) eco-ambassadors to go green, both within and outside of their homes, for three days.
Here’s how it went.
From left to right: Komal Lakhani, Bryan Zhao, and Mijin Lee
When it comes to being more environmentally-friendly, using reusable shopping bags and bringing our own lunchboxes out to dabao food are probably what most of us would be familiar and comfortable with. While these are good habits to start with, living a sustainable lifestyle is a lot more than that—it’s about changing our mindsets, stepping outside of our comfort zones, and constantly seeking new ways to go green. And this is exactly what we challenged our three eco-ambassadors to do.
Earlier in March, we sent out a call for members of our community of shoppers, retail and office tenants to sign up as our #LGDTE eco-ambassadors to each complete an eco-lifestyle challenge over the course of 3 days. After our selection process, we sent out daily challenges to our chosen ambassadors—Komal Lakhani, Bryan Zhao, and Mijin Lee—and had them pen down their reflections at the end of each day. Here, they share their honest thoughts about living sustainably.
The basic requirements we laid out for our eco-ambassadors over the course of the three-day challenge were:
• Carry your own eco-friendly bag whenever you head out.
• Only take public transport, or even better—travel by foot or bicycle.
• Unplug appliances when not in use (phantom power is real!), and shut down all computers when not in use.
Bonus: turn off your WiFi at the end of the day.
• Cut down on plastic usage as much as possible.
Apart from these, we also laid out specific challenges and unique tasks for our eco-ambassadors each day, so all of them could try out different things.
Day 1 — Challenge At Home
The main aim of the challenges at home that we set for our eco-ambassadors was to get them to rethink certain habits that they had in their daily lives, and to encourage them to get creative in the ways that they chose to go eco-friendly.
Challenge — Repurpose and reuse at least three household items, and start composting.
“I fashioned a storage box, makeup brush holder, and drawer organisers out of old boxes, including an empty Pringles tube. A lot of people think recycling means they've done their bit for the environment, but what most don't realise is that recycling requires a large amount of energy, and most of the things we think can be recycled actually can't, like many types of plastics. So instead of recycling, we should invest in good quality products that can last a long time, like metal and glass cutlery instead of plastic. Once it's no longer in good shape, we should try to reuse it for something else.
Apart from that, I repurposed some old glass bottles as vases for my plants, and even turned one into a lamp by filling it with fairy lights. I also composted a bunch of food waste I had, like banana and orange peels, tea bags, and eggshells.”
The possibilities are endless when repurposing old items—a Pringles tube can be an incense holder, and a glass bottle can be a bedside lamp. Images courtesy of Komal Lakhani.
Challenge — Create your own home recycling bins, and make your own all-purpose cleaning spray with household ingredients.
“For this challenge, I decided to use old shoe boxes in my storeroom to set up a mini recycling corner to collect used plastic and glass bottles in my household. Seeing the empty boxes being filled up with plastic really helped my family and me to be more conscious of the amount of plastic waste we generate.
Making the all-purpose cleaning spray with household ingredients was quite an interesting experience. I was surprised that I didn’t even have to purchase anything extra. I wanted to share this with my friends, so I also filmed a step-by-step tutorial on my TikTok account!”
Challenge — Grow your own produce at home and reuse one household item in the process, and find a way to save water to water your plants.
“I reused plastic jars and an empty glass bottle to propagate some plants. I enjoy crafts and have a lot of plants around the house, so this was an enjoyable activity for me. I’m currently regrowing some spring onions that would have otherwise been thrown away as kitchen scraps. I also reused the water from rinsing rice to water my plants. The challenge for Day 1 was straightforward because the activities are already a regular part of my weekly routine.”
Day 2 — Challenge Out Of Home
The challenges out of home that we laid out for our eco-ambassadors were designed to allow them to explore some of the more environmentally-friendly features and amenities that already exist in the spaces around them, from shops and eateries to public spaces around CapitaLand malls.
Challenge — Purchase at least three different types of local produce with the SG Fresh Produce badge, and drop off old or unused electronics at an e-waste collection point.
“Day 2’s challenges were tougher, because it was challenging to find plastic-free produce in the supermarket. Some have vegetables on display without plastic packaging, where you buy as much as you need, but that’s not the case with all vegetables. Most vegetables and leafy greens like carrots, beans, cabbage, mushrooms, spinach, and coriander are already pre-packed in plastic in most supermarkets. It was also frustrating to see other people pulling out plastic bag after plastic bag from the rolls in the fresh produce section. Do you really need to put two bananas in a bag? The other difficulty I faced was finding local produce—I visited three supermarkets, and not a single one had local produce.
On the other hand, the e-waste recycling bins were very useful. I think if we had these in more locations, more people would recycle their e-waste instead of just tossing it into the trash.”
“I went to the supermarket to purchase tissues for the house. I chose the one made from bamboo pulp instead of regular wood pulp, as I read that bamboo pulp is 100% biodegradable and decomposes much faster compared to wood pulp. I also purchased a refill pack for hand soap instead of purchasing a fresh bottle. The soap itself was also made with plant-based ingredients, and it was nice to see these fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies mentioning that on their product packaging.
Lastly, I headed to Plaza Singapura to find one of CapitaLand’s Reverse Vending Machines to recycle my plastic bottles. It’s great to know that for every 10 empty drink containers deposited, we get 10STAR$. I saw that someone before me had deposited 20 containers!”
Challenge — Have a vegan meal at any one of CapitaLand malls or workspace’s F&B outlets, and drop off at least three pre-loved items at a donation centre.
“I generally try to eat less meat , so this challenge was a lovely reminder for me to reduce my meat intake. I usually feel physically and mentally better after eating vegan/vegetarian food than when I have red meat anyway.
I also donated some of my pre-loved items for Day 2. I try to reuse or recycle everything I own, and there is almost always someone who will want or need what I'm planning on throwing away. I listed these items on the Olio app, where other users can collect these things for free, and someone picked up the items on the same day. It was nice to know that my clothes will have a second life with someone else.”
Day 3 — Community Initiative
The final part of our challenge for our eco-ambassadors was to spread the word and do something good for the environment in the wider community.
For Day 3, all three of our eco-ambassadors were posed the same challenges — spend at least 30 minutes doing a neighbourhood clean-up with a plus-one, participate in one of CapitaLand’s eco-friendly workshops, post about their workshop and/or clean-up experience on their social media accounts with the hashtag #LGDTE, and pass this challenge on to at least one other person.
“I did my clean-up at Fort Canning Park, and it was disappointing to see just how much trash people leave behind. For a city that prides itself on being one with nature, many people were treating our green spaces as an open dustbin. Cigarette boxes, plastic straw wrappers, masks, and plastic candy wrappers were some of the most common things we found disposed all over Fort Canning Park. Additionally, we also found drink cans, used tissues, and empty bottles just left on the lawn. There are many dustbins around but sadly, people chose not to clean up after themselves.
The workshop on the other hand was a lot of fun and hard work. The best part was that everything was made from reusable, environmentally-friendly materials, and we didn’t waste anything. Even the dried-up paint mixture was spread out on a reusable silicone mat, and then broken up into chips to be used in the next project. And that is the true definition of sustainability—use every part and create zero waste, be it your kitchen, crafts space, or even your office.”
Workshop — What’s Good is Green: Broken Made Whole Collection Coaster Workshop with CHOKMAH
Workshop — From Bread to Beer – A Sustainable CRUST Beer Tasting
“I did my neighbourhood clean-up around my estate at Tanjong Pagar, and used a bio-based bag that I got from a recent purchase of clothes. I went around picking up trash like empty plastic cups and bottles, straws, clothes pegs, cigarette packs, face masks, and food packaging. I noticed that the majority of trash I found were made of plastic, which has become so ingrained in our lifestyles that we don’t even realise the amount of damage we’re inflicting on the environment.
In the beer tasting workshop, we got the chance to taste beer made from unused and unsold bread from supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants, and evaluated them based on sight (appearance and colour), smell (aroma), taste (flavour and finish) and touch (mouthfeel and body). We tried six different beers, and had to give each beer a score. My favourite was the ale that was infused with a herb locally grown in Gardens By The Bay. Every participant in the workshop had a different favourite, and it was interesting to see how beer tasting can be something so personal!
It was also super eye-opening to hear Travin, the co-founder and CEO of CRUST, talk about his mission to reduce global food waste by 1% by 2030. By partnering with brands like Tiong Bahru Bakery, they help these companies turn their surplus bread into beer, which they also sell in-store, essentially prolonging their product’s life cycle.”
Workshop — Maze and Free-Motion Pocket Tote by BERNINA
“I work part-time at a non-profit where volunteers pick up litter in the community almost every day, so I try to do this at least twice a week. The experience is always rewarding, but it’s a jarring reality to see how much trash there is to clear every day.
The workshop was initially out of my comfort zone because it’s been 20 years since I used a sewing machine, but the staff were amazing and made the experience a lot of fun. I love my reusable tote bag and I ended up having a wonderful time!”
While all three of our eco-ambassadors already had green habits of their own, they all agreed that this 3-day challenge really pushed them to try out different ways to be even more environmentally-conscious in their everyday lives, and to encourage the people around them to embark on their own journeys towards sustainability. They share some parting words of advice:
Komal: “For a start, carry your own shopping bag and water bottle. Walk or take public transport as much as possible, and upcycle things before throwing them out. Once you get the hang of these, you can slowly start making more sustainable switches. Soon enough, living sustainably will become a way of life, and you’ll be wondering why haven’t you been doing your part all along and persuading your family and friends to join the green side.”
Bryan: “One tip I would give everyone else is to go about your day-to-day activities and identify areas of wastage, whether it be that straw you ask for when buying a drink, or using a plastic bag when you don’t really need it. We should see where we can cut down on things that are one-time use in nature. Always start small, as little actions go a long way.”
Mijin: “Anyone can start living sustainably! We just need to start being conscious of our consumption, whether it’s food, water, fuel, and so on, and hopefully that will be accompanied by small everyday changes.”
This challenge was held for Let’s Get Down To Earth, CapitaLand's sustainability festival for shoppers, retail and workspace tenants, which ran from 16 March to 1 May 2022. From eco challenges to upcycling workshops, the festival welcomed the community to embrace a sustainable lifestyle, adopt green habits, and do our part to make a positive impact on our environment.
Though the festival might be over, we hope to see more members of our community continue do their part for the Earth that we call home—you could even try out the challenges that our eco-ambassadors took on! Like Bryan said, a little goes a long way.