Thursday, 29 October 2015

Sustainable living in a different perspective

Before starting this blog, my idea of sustainability and more specific, sustainable living was the kind of lifestyle we are living.

However, looking back at this journey and how far I had come, I realised that my view on sustainable living was myopic. I learnt so much while maintaining this blog and writing about my thoughts and views as I come across videos and journal articles about issues of sustainability.
This has been a great opportunity to learn more and widen my perspective of things.
While embarking on my journey with a group of awesome peers for a project on the self-sustainability of autistic adults, it has increased my understanding of  the term sustainability. At the same time, it had got me more confused on this big term too. Sounds confusing isn't it? Well, I guess this is the process of learning. As we learn more, we realise how much little did we know. Not sure if that's the case for others but that's just how I feel.

Lastly, just to sidetrack a little, I recently came across this website which I found is so cool! It seems very apt for the theme of my blog and my interest. I am going to sign up for it and for those who have the same interest as me, here is the link: Join me in it and who knows, our paths may cross and we can get to know each other there! (:

Potentially my last post, I wish all of you the best in living sustainably!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Updateee on my pledge!

For most of you who have been following my blog, this is an update on my sustainability pledge!! I started my pledge to reduce my bathing time by 5 minutes since September and I've been using this chart to track my progress! I took a screenshot of it to share with you all :D

Up till now, I feel that taking a pledge to change our living habits is quite a challenging task and it requires constant reminder and self-discipline to change habits that have been formed for a long period of time. Initially, this commitment that I have pledged would slip my mind once in a while and it takes constant effort to make the change. I am making progress little by little and I aim to make it into a new habit by the end of November! Please cheer me on!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Walkability and sustainable living... How are they related?

  • Have you ever thought if sustainability=sustainable living? Hang on to this thought while we discuss this issue in this post. 

  • In a journal article published by Cubukcu, it is mentioned that discussions on sustainability have always been revolving around environmental problems, which commonly includes ozone layer depletion, air and water pollution, alternative methods of energy consumption and recycling (Cubukcu, 2013). These issues have been discussed and written by the media as well as by community members, civic leaders, local governments and official policymakers (Cubukcu, 2013). Among those issues, however, “sustainable living” has received less attention. 

  • Sustainable living is defined by Cubukcu (2013) as a lifestyle that aims to reduce the use of natural resources. This includes practising a lifestyle that reduces wastage and encourages leaving enough natural resources for future generations. He also indicated that sustainable living itself in developed countries is an oxymoron, given that the modern lifestyle of humans in urban areas will lead to environmental destructions.One way to counteract the modern lifestyle of urban dwellers that lead to environmental destruction, would be walkability. Walkability refers to the measure of the ability of an area to be traveled, crossed or covered by foot. It is a good way to lead to sustainable living. 

The concept of walkability can be adapted to Singapore as Singapore being a small country, would be able to implement policies and encourage people to walk to their destinations due to the short distances between neighbourhoods and amenities. The Health Promotion Board (HPB) is trying out this programme in Tampines called Tampines Healthy Pathway and it seems to be quite a success till now. Many of my neighbours including aunties and uncles in Tampines are actively participating in this programme as it is a way for them to collect Healthpoints which can be exchanged for NTUC vouchers worth up to $60. HBP also encourages people to mall-walk as it is one of the safest forms of physical activity (HPB, n.d.) and at the same time easily accessible due to many shopping malls in Singapore. As HBP's main aim to promote healthy living among Singaporeans, it ties in nicely with sustainable living. In addition, when I was in primary school, schools have been promoting walking by introducing stepometer to encourage students to walk more by using a fun approach as it records the number of steps they had walked. Just as mentioned in the journal article that I was talking about in the previous paragraph, walkability is definitely encouraged in Asian cities like Singapore with the many benefits it brings.

  • References:

  • Cubukcu, E. (2013). Walking for sustainable living. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 85, 33-42. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.08.335
Health Promotion Board. (n.d.). Walk the Mall to Better Health. Retrieved from 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Taking baby steps

Today,  I would like to share about this website that I discovered recently. It covers a wide range of sustainability aspects from gardening to health to everyday living and this website is called Sustainable Baby Steps (SBS). It is managed by a lady named Tara together with her husband and they are based in Northwest Florida.

Out of the many articles, I have chosen one to share with all of you.The reason for choosing this particular article is due to this saying by Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), a Russian novelist, philosopher & educational reformer. He once said "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself". To change the world, we have to first change ourselves. It is not just a dream, but it is a goal that is achievable with everyone on board. 

This article, Going Green At Home talks about some tips that are simple, cost efficient and at the same time able to make our surroundings more natural and sustainable at the same time and it starts at home! Honestly, most of us do not spend most of our time at home isn't it? We, in fact, spend more time at work/school as compared to at home. In this competitive and fast-paced world, we spend long hours working or studying. Thus, these practices are not only applicable to our homes but also can be adapted in our workplaces or bring along with us. I would like to highlight some of the tips mentioned like using baking soda to remove odours, placing English Ivy (Scientific name: Hedera helix) indoors to clean the air and making natural household cleaning liquid using water and vinegar. 

Firstly, baking soda is a natural deodoriser which is able to absorb odours. It can be easily done by placing a bowl of it in the fridge to remove all the various smells from food, sprinkling it into your shoes or adding it into hot soapy water used for wiping your trash bin. 

Secondly, English Ivy is well-known for purifying air. It can remove benzene, a carcinogen found in detergents, pesticides, cigarette smoke and the off-gasing of other synthetic materials. It is very beneficial for people with allergies and asthma as the air will be cleaner. It is also able to filter out and remove formaldehye (can be found in some household cleaning products). Although English Ivy can be invasive, at the same time, it is ideal to be put in a pot and be placed indoors. In addition, English Ivy can be easily found in Singapore making it a feasible idea! However, be careful not to ingest this plant as it is poisonous!

English Ivy
Lastly, pour 9 parts of water together with 1 part of vinegar and mix well. You can add a few drops of dishwashing soap and essential oil if the vinegar smell is too strong. Your all purpose natural household cleaner is created!

One very interesting and creative idea in this website is the 7 Day Treehugger Kickstart where it provides a guide for 7 days that claims to make the "biggest, greenest, most affordable changes in the shortest amount of time" (SBS, n.d.). How true is it? Find out for yourself!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Microplastics Part 2 (In Singapore)

Continuing on the topic of microplastics from the previous post, this brings to my mind about a presentation by Hazimah, a student from NUS during one of the Environmental Engineering lectures weeks ago. She  researched and published a journal article, Microplastics in Singapore's Coastal Mangrove Ecosystems. It is about the distribution of microplastics in Singapore's coastal ecosystems. Her research showed that microplastics can be found in all seven intertidal mangroves habitat in Singapore namely Pasir Ris, Changi, Lim Chu Kang, Pulau Ubin, Pulau Semakau, Sungei Buloh and Berlayar Creek (Mohamed Nor & Obbard, 2014). From Hazimah's presentation, I learnt that the highest concentration of microplastics is found in Lim Chu Kang where fish farms are located. The concentrations of microplastics in these sites are reported to be much higher as compared to the previous study conducted in Singapore in 2004 and are reported to be up to 3 times higher than a study conducted UK (Mohamed Nor & Obbard, 2014). 

Many countries are starting to ban these harmful and damaging substances, but  microplastic is currently still not banned in Singapore. This means that products that contain these microbeads can still be found on the shelves.  As small organisms can ingest microplastic and bioaccumulate in their bodies, mangrove systems and fish resources from nearby fish farms in Singapore may be potentially harmed ((Mohamed Nor & Obbard, 2014). Looking forward, do you think this is sustainable? With the potential harm that it may bring to us in the long run and future generations, this is definitely not sustainable as marine life would be adversely affected together with our health. As this problem worsens, we should do something about it before it gets too late. Instead of just using words, let's act on it and support the banning of such products. A simple way to start would be looking out for these products and read carefully before purchasing them. Choose products that use natural ingredients for the production of the beads or select products that don't even contain these microbeads in the first place. I believe all of us will be able to do it! 


  • Mohamed Nor, N. H., & Obbard, J. P. (2014). Microplastics in singapore's coastal mangrove ecosystems. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 79(1-2), 278-283. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.11.025

Friday, 2 October 2015

What are microplastics?

Hey guys! I  chanced upon this video was surfing Youtube and I find it really interesting so I would like to share it with all of you! This video gives an introduction to microplastic and the impacts of it. You may ask what is microplastic? Check it out below!

This video is talking about the microbeads found in our toothpaste, facial cleansers and body wash that have exfoliating effects or deep cleansing effects. These products contain microbeads that are made of plastic as plastic is a cheaper material as compared to natural materials. Microplastic is defined by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection  (GESAMP) as "microparticulate size plastic of range 5mm in diameter of less". Due to these beads being extremely tiny, they are unable to be detected in purifying systems and thus, they would flow together with the treated water back into the seas and oceans. This is a serious problem as these microplastics are very absorbent of substances around them, thus, taking in all the pollutants around them. This means that the microbeads can be many times more polluted than the water around them. Just imagine marine organisms like fishes and sea turtles mistaking them for food and ingesting them... How dire the consequences will be!

Products containing microplastics

 A study published reported that about 90 percent of seabirds today have plastic in their bodies (Wilcox, Sebille & Hardesty, 2015) and it exponentially increased since the past few decades from 10 percent in the 1980s. It is expected to reach 99 percent by 2050 if plastic ingestion increases in seabirds (Wilcox et al., 2015). Similarly for other marine creatures like sea turtles and fishes, microplastics accumulates in their guts too and poison them. However, effective waste management can reduce this threat (Wilcox et al., 2015).

  • References:
Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection. (2015). Fate and Effects of Microplastics in the Marine Environment: A Global Assessment. GESAMP Reports and Studies, 90 (98). Retrieved from   

  • Wilcox, C., Sebille, E. V., & Hardesty, B. D. (2015). Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global, pervasive, and increasing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(38), 11899. doi:10.1073/pnas.1502108112