At Secondsguru, we aim to make green, sustainable lifestyles fun, practical and accessible for all. Preaching has never been our thing, instead, we equip you with information and tips – whether it is busting myths about recycling, telling you where to do package free shopping, sharing a zero waste toolkit guide, highlighting how to manage food waste or just anything eco. All this to give you – our reader – the option to adopt the choices that work for you; after all living green is a journey.
All was well, until the dreaded COVID-19 took the world by storm in the first quarter of 2020. Our unrelenting resolve to be environmentally responsible has been tested like never before. While on the one hand it appears that the world will be a tad bit more ‘trashy’ in the coming months, on the other, it seems like it will be made up of a closer-knit community of people for the long term.
Why we expect the world to be more ‘trash’y?
1. “Single use disposables” were falling out of favour, finally. Then came COVID-19.
In spite of the official directive from The World Health Organisation (WHO), to wear face masks only when needed, a large number of people have been wearing them when they step out. Due to an increase in the number of local transmission and rising number of undetected cases, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and the Government of Singapore have shifted their stance from ‘wear only if unwell’ to ‘wear a mask when you step out’. We are on board, but we are concerned, particularly when we witness images such as👇. Can people please start disposing of the single use face masks where they belong? In the TRASH bin! Better still make these DIY fabric masks or follow the step-by-step tutorial from home grown ground up initiative, Masks Sewn with Love using this sizing guide.
In the COVID-19 inflicted world we live in, most of the ‘disinfect your home’ guidelines by experts are accompanied by call-outs to use single use gloves. Honestly, cleaning the home (floors, windows, dishes, mopping and almost anything you can think of) can be done using chemical free solutions made at home or with off-the-shelf eco-friendly cleaning solutions such as bio-home and ETL No 9 with the aid of reusable gloves. So unless you have to use strong chemicals to disinfect your home due to a quarantine order or a family member testing positive for COVID-19, avoid the chemicals and give discarding the gloves a miss!
2. Panic buying and hoarding = more packaging waste
Whether it is panic buying of packaged food or toilet paper, there is just a lot more packaging waste around us.
Is it needed? Perhaps not. Are most of us guilty of it? To a large extent yes.
Many among us have stocked up on packaged food items like rice, noodles and pasta- carbs to the rescue if an apocalypse comes upon us! As for the unintended hoarding of packaging, can we please try to reuse these as bin liners (rice bags are great as bin liners) or repurpose where possible prior to sending them for recycling or to the bin? Not sure on what can and can’t be recycled in Singapore? Just refer to this mini handy guide. Missing some items? See this long list from the National Environment Agency(NEA). Here are some cool repurposing ideas in case you want to indulge in some DIY fun using the packaging waste
- Plastic bag to clutch step-by-step guide from our ‘creative’ founder, Anuja
- Tin cans to planters either stick (if you are creatively challenged like me) on or paint(if you are not)
- Pringles box makeover tips
3. With lockdowns and circuit breakers in place, there will be more takeaway and home delivery
Naturally this will result in more single use disposables in the system. Many restaurants and cafes that used to encourage users (some even offering $ discounts) to BYOC for drinks and BYOB for tapao/dabao (aka takeaway), are taking a break from allowing the use of reusables- the familiar names include Starbucks, Mcdonalds, Subway, the much-loved bubble tea drink chain KOI and many others. While we have to respect the decision, given the virulent nature of the COVID-19 virus, let’s try to act responsibly- by cleaning up that coffee cup and use it as a water holder for the next painting project or as a planter for seeds/succulents. This trend has started to reverse in Singapore with Trade and Industry Minister, Mr. Chan Chun Sing encouraging the take away diners to carry their own clean containers to be more environmentally sustainable in latest circuit breaker measures announced on April 3, 2020.
Why we think the world will become a closer-knit community of people?
1. Love in the time of COVID-19= Social capital
Have you, like us, witnessed a surge in unusual acts of kindness? We love it that friends and neighbors are offering to help those serving Stay at Home Notice (SHN), LOA (Leave of Absence), Quarantine Order (QO) and the elderly, by offering to carry out essential errands, grocery shopping on their behalf . Then there are those who cook a meal or order a meal and send it over. All this on a contactless basis of course- remember ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed!’
Don’t know someone who needs help? You can donate a meal via Secondmeal.io or offer to help people who are confined at home in your neighbourhood by joining the GoodHood.SG app. Just list the help you are offering. Once this pandemic tides over, in addition to economic, cultural and natural capital, a form of capital-coined in the late 1990’s and often overlooked- aptly called ‘social capital’ will take prominence as pointed out by Professor Tommy Koh, rector of Tembusu College, National University of Singapore.
2. Social distancing – more virtual connecting
We are seeing (and indulging in) a lot of people catch-up with lost connections virtually – whether it is with friends from school, or a cousin we were very close to at one time but have drifted apart from in the daily grind, or that favourite teacher who lives in a different city now. Let’s take a moment to bow down to technology, for being an enabler in widening our community and social circle. Zoom, Skype, Houseparty, Google Hangouts or WhatsApp Video call, the options are plenty!
3. Smiles – We see a lot of this contactless greeting nowadays
We’re in this together, and more and more people are craving connection with the outside world. The last few weeks have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of smiles, nods and polite waves from usually too-busy-to-look-you-in-the-eye neighbours, teens, kids and grown ups! Did you know that a smile will make you happier, more optimistic, and you just may live longer? (So suggests a 2019 Harvard Medical school publication based on a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.) With social distancing being the ‘new normal’, just smile that extra smile next time you see someone- even if through your mask.
4. Support local
When this is all over, we still want that hipster cafe, that cool zero waste store and that truly sustainable clothes brand to be around. A lot of people we know are voting with their wallet to support their favourite local brands. Do join the #supportlocal movement if you haven’t already.
If possible (and allowed), head over to the cafe in your neighbourhood that you love to takeaway food or your favourite drink or, just order in! Need to send a gift or buy something for yourself? Buy from a local business! If you live in Singapore, you can choose to purchase gift cards for future use at local businesses via ChopeAndSave– basically offer a small time loan of sorts to them. You can find BooksActually, CatSocrates,PSCafe, LoveBonito and many more brands on this platform. And finally, if you want to support the awesome hawkers in Singapore, join the FB group, Hawkers United-Dabao 2020. Here you can find offers and deals from your favourite hawkers as well as delivery options. Seafood and fruit sellers have listings on this group too.
5. Give generously – $ and time – and create a stronger, closer-knit community
Many of us are trying to be a part of the solution by donating time and if possible funds to various organisations and grass root level groups who have taken it upon themselves to combat fall out of the COVID-19 situation. The more the merrier. We have collated a list of some platforms that stand out in their efforts and reach. Do you know any groups that stand out to add to this list? Email us at email@example.com and we can add the initiative to our list after reviewing.
-World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund – Donate here to fund WHO’s efforts to track the virus, develop vaccines, tests and treatments in addition to ensuring the well-being of patients and to support the frontline staff.
-UNICEF’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Appeal – Donate here to help UNICEF support families and children as they fight through this trying time
– SGunited – A one stop platform that allows you to donate money, essential items, or volunteer your time. The Courage Fund under this platform accepts cash donations that will be channeled to support vulnerable families and frontline worker/volunteers who are affected by the COVID-19 situation. Those keen to volunteer time can look at options with Giving.sg
-The Food Bank Singapore- You can sponsor a meal for the needy with their initiative ‘Feed the City (Take-away Edition)’ and support local F&B outlets in the process.
6. A lot more ‘THANK YOU’s!
If you have not said it enough, say thanks to everyone you can, the healthcare staff, the person who works tirelessly to ensure your delivery reaches you on time, the taxi driver, the bus driver, the cleaning uncle, your parents, your kids, your house help. It’s a good time to be grateful, before life gets busy again! In case you missed this thank you dance performed by a group of Singaporean students studying at the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington for the crew of the last Singapore Airlines flight back home, take a look. We just loved it!
Coronatimes| All is not gloom and doom in this world grappling with COVID-19