Environmental Responsibility: 4 Myths About Consumption Debunked!

At the end of August we celebrated the official launch of our The Green Tingkat ecommerce platform; for those of you who managed to catch it, we were so happy you could join us! (And if you missed our Digital Launch event, fret not! We have all our sessions recorded and uploaded on our Youtube channel and Instagram.) Our guest speakers educated us in our #KampungChats sessions, and some of our partner brands shared their stories in our Caught Green Handed IG Live segments. We have summarised parts of the event into 4 digestible points for you: Here are 4 myths about consumption, debunked!

 

MYTH #1: Recycling Saves the Environment

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Shocked? We, too, were quite. Recycling, though part of the famous trio known as the 3Rs (that’s been ingrained in our minds since a young age), is only a measure to help slow down the impact consumption has on our environment -- but does not actually help to ‘save’ the environment. Instead, we should strive to live by the mantra of one of our panelists, Minister of Parliament, Louis Ng, to “limit instead of replace” our consumption with more environmentally-friendly products. 

After all, when we recycle, at the very best we reduce the damage being done to our environment. But it does not solve the root cause: we still consume! It is only when we limit our consumption that we can successfully and sustainably minimize the damage we have been dealing (and will continue to deal) to our environment.

So it is important for us to choose wisely, how and what we consume! A good way to reduce consumption’s negative climate and environmental impact, is by choosing to spend only on essentials (needs) and cutting back on non-essentials (wants).

 

MYTH #2: There Is Nothing Much I Can Do As A Consumer

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Most of us know that this is untrue; yet unfortunately many people still continue holding on to such a mindset. As a consumer, we wield immense power. Every single decision we make has a much larger impact than we imagine. Have you ever thought about it? If everyone thinks that there is nothing much he/she can do as a consumer, nobody will break the vicious cycle of excessive consumption -- and nothing will change at the end of the day. Environmental sustainability is a combined collective effort!

In one of the #KampungChats sessions, our The Green Collective co-founder Mayur Singh shares golden nuggets of wisdom to help us kickstart our journey to going green:

  1. Limit your consumption This is the BEST way to save the environment. However, we also understand that this is the utopia we are all striving to work towards. Regardless, there are questions we can ask ourselves to help us make more informed decisions, such that we can progress towards this utopia as a society.

  2. ASK: What is the material made of? Is it biodegradable? Can it be reused multiple times?

  3. ASK: Where is it from? Besides knowing the material the product is made of, you might want to go a step further to find out the carbon footprint generated by the product -- from its production to your very hands.

 

Asking these simple but pertinent questions before every purchase, helps us as consumers to reason out the true sustainability of the product in question. This will also prevent us from falling into the trap of getting “greenwashed” by companies.

 

MYTH #3: If I Cannot Finish My Food, The Only Solution Is To Throw the Leftovers Away

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Did you know, studies have shown that approximately half of household waste is actually food waste? If we could reduce the amount of food waste that we throw away, we can effectively cut down our individual household waste by 50%! 

During our digital launch, Christopher Tan (from the Waste & Resource Management department in NEA) had some practical tips to offer us on what we can actually do with leftover food, apart from throwing them away:

  1. Store leftovers properly So that they can be eaten again! Just as how leftover rice can be used to make fried rice, we can engineer new recipes to whip up using leftovers - all we need is a little creativity!

  2. Buy what you need Don’t buy more than what you need. Think about it: If we buy just what we need, we will use just what we have. This can well alleviate the issue of overestimating what we need.

These are practical steps we can gradually include into our lives with simple lifestyle changes, and extra thoughts before we purchase. Remember, every single decision you make leads to a huge difference - especially in the long term. Check out our earlier post on 5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste



MYTH #4: Vegan Is the Only Way to Go

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Surrounding the topic of sustainability when it comes to food, veganism seems to be the only option - but it need not be. We are all on a journey, and there are small steps of informed changes we can make in our lives as consumers to benefit not just the earth, but also our health. 

Karin Reiter (of Nutritious N Delicious) brought up a term most of us would be familiar with: plant-based diet. Defining plant-based diet to be 80% plant and 20% good quality (sustainable) protein, Karin distinguished plant-based diet from vegan diet (total abstinence from animal products, including honey). 

So while it might be tough to turn vegan overnight, we can definitely consider tweaking our diets from an animal-based to a plant-based diet. In Karin’s terms, it’s as simple as switching from having your steak as the main and your salad as the side, to having your salad as the main and your steak as the side. 

The sheer accumulation of little tweaks in our lives may not seem much -- but if we do our part, we will notice the vast changes we are impacting, with the little adjustments we make. What steps have you been making? Let us know.