There is a much better understanding of sustainability issues today, whether it’s relating to climate change, growing waste problems or the destruction of natural habitats. Considering the environmental impact of everyday actions is much more common now thanks to better connectivity and education. But there is still much more to be done.
Ground-level initiatives and the government will need to work together to target different audiences and galvanise the community. Singapore has groups such as Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) that runs Kampung Kampus, conscious clothing brand Dorsu and eco-friendly stores such as UnPackt and The Social Space.
30%: Increase in local food waste over the past 10 years, according to the National Environmental Agency
We started The Green Collective as a three-month pop-up, and now carry 45 brands within a 232m² space in the Civic District. All this happened within a year, with the support of a community keen on green alternatives to their everyday products.
Having a greener lifestyle is actually easy when you think of it as taking small, simple steps. There are many ways a consumer can be more conscious. For instance, one can take some time to be curious and find out more about the products. Do they support local businesses? How does the brand give back to their artisans and workers?
I myself really got to thinking about the people making my possessions after reading about the Rana Plaza incident in Bangladesh. The disaster, which claimed the lives of 1,134 workers and injured more than 2,500, showed people how dire the manufacturing industry actually is. Many are caught in poor labour conditions and often go unpaid.
The recent report in the Guardian on the mistreatment of workers making lululemon clothes is another wake-up call for those unaware of what is really going on behind the scenes.
“Having a greener lifestyle is actually easy when you think of it as taking small, simple steps”
It makes me gravitate towards brands that work closely with their communities to ensure safe working conditions and also give the artisans the chance to lift themselves out of poverty through their handiwork. Some brands are also creating amazing products out of what others deem as waste – think old tyres crafted into footwear by Indosole or even statement bags made from can tabs by Escama Studio.
Fashion aside, it is exciting to see how initiatives championing sustainability are popping up and working together – for example, our first climate rally on 21 September brought together people from all over to share their voices on what we can do. This, I believe, will be what we need moving forward, whether in Singapore or even worldwide.
Illustrations by Michael Driver
This article was originally published in the December 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine