Using Less For More.

I was not much of an eco-friendly person. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, there was little talk about our global environmental situation, and all we ever learned about was the generic terms and causes of air, land and sea pollution, global warming, greenhouse gases etc. With little information and poor connectivity, we tend to look the other way. Fast forward, 20 years later, and not till recently, being cooped up at home due to the Covid-19 situation, with more time to reflect, I found myself surrounded by single-use plastics and paper, while handling kitchen and bathroom household duties. Working in a 12 hour, 6-day a week job, whilst running an online retail business trying to make ends meet with the least involvement in household chores, that's how oblivious one can become.

Faced with the horrors of a plastic overdose and mounting cost of paper usage that's taken root in every aspect of our lives can be mind boggling, not to mention the average carbon emissions per capita in Singapore is already about 8 tons per person. There are plastics from grocery bags, food packaging, e-waste, daily use products, apparels, office supplies, online, and offline retail packaging and the list goes on. With such common use in plastics, comes the ubiquitous plastic waste that is causing the world’s ocean plastic crisis. It is estimated that by the middle of this century, the world would have accumulated about 12 billion metric tons (approximately 1,674 times the weight of the Pyramid of Giza) of plastic in all our landfills, overflowing into our oceans destroying marine life and natural habitats. Truth be told, we certainly have more plastic bottles than aquatic mammals in our oceans.

Then there's paper wastage; soiled paper towels, tissues and wet wipes cannot be recycled, and are therefore categorized under general waste within NEA (National Environment Agency) Recycling Guidelines. As of 2020, Singapore generates 1.14 million tons of paper waste, and only 38% gets recycled. This is also the highest number of waste material by type on NEA's 2020 Waste Statistics and Overall Recycling table. Have you ever wondered how many trees are we growing to replace that 62% of paper waste that goes to the incinerator? While there are many uncertainties abound through this pandemic, single-use paper consumption will hardly change due to pure convenience and our focus on the global plastic crisis.

I do feel like "David" with the odds stacking up like "Goliath", just trying to make any sense out of it already makes it a futile endeavor. So, I decided to start this project “Neuhabitat” with my family at home, by swopping out single-use items wherever is possible with reusable ones. And by sharing, I hope that others may learn to adopt and adapt to new habits that will have some significance to the crisis we are dealing with.

Basically, Neuhabitat hopes that by taking action, we can see through the development of a circular economy involving issues of plastic use, sustainable packaging and waste management. As an online retailer, I believe that I am in a better position to bring about a change that’s much faster than any other actor along the e-commerce supply chain primarily through aligning my brand with appropriate initiatives and consequently influencing the consumers’ behavior.

So why do I want to do this and what am I hoping to achieve? To put it simply, let’s just say it’s the decent thing to do, where some of our good deeds for our children can be paid forward through metric tons, where plastic and paper wastes will hopefully not be in that picture.

Sources:
https://www.worldometers.info/
https://www.nationalgeographic.org/
https://www.forbes.com/
https://www.nea.gov.sg/

Photo by Akil Mazumder from Pexels

 

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