Being eco-friendly doesn’t stop at using your own shopping bag and recycling where you can. Environmental activist Olivia Choong, co-founder of Green Drinks Singapore, a non-profit environment-focused society, shares other ways you can exert your consumer power to make meaningful change for the planet.
Q: Countless tonnes of food, clothes and other items are thrown out every year. How does this waste impact our ecosystem?
Olivia: Waste has serious consequences. Worldwide, one third of food produced is wasted, resulting in huge carbon emissions and accounting for 8% of global emissions. Vast areas of land are also deforested for farms to grow the food we need.
Then there’s textile waste – the clothes we throw away sit in landfill sites and take a long time to degrade. Natural fabrics will break down but synthetic ones take at least 200 years to degrade. Similarly, we need to consider the amount of water and energy required to make these clothes in the first place. When we donate clothing, only a small percentage is sent overseas, some become industrial rags, and the rest are thrown out. In Singapore, everything is incinerated. Burning these clothes creates a carbon footprint; the ashes are then shipped out to Pulau Semakau and sit in the landfill there. We only have till 2035 before we run out of space at Pulau Semakau.