Published 24 July 2019 ● Last Updated on 27 October 2020

2018 to 2019: Time for action to tackle the problem of waste in SingaporeTo SG… With Love, SG

To help Singapore achieve her goal in the ‘Year Towards Zero Waste’, we at Secondsguru launched our series of Zero Waste Bootcamps (ZWBs) in 2019. Aiming to encourage environmental stewardship, our bootcamps 18-30 year old youth in Singapore with knowledge and skills on ways to embrace zero waste lifestyles, so that they, in turn, become change makers and help their communities move towards a lower-waste lifestyle.

Secondsguru's first Zero Waste Bootcamp was graced by Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State at the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources
Secondsguru’s first Zero Waste Bootcamp was graced by Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State at the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources

As we gear up for our 3rd edition of Zero Waste Bootcamp (ZWB #3) on Saturday, August 31, 2019, (UPDATE! 5th edition details here and sign up here!) we’d like to share with you the story of Food Fighters SG – the group that won ZWB #1 and their ‘fight till the last bite’ to create awareness on food wastage and ways to reduce it. 

Introduction |Meeting someone with the same mindset as you is rare” – Unknown

Food Fighters SG is a team of four – Candice Goh, Haylee Han, Pauline Bureau and Steffie Ong  – that formulated for ZWB #1 and decided to tackle the issue of food waste in its bootcamp action plan. Their 8-week roll-out focused on education, featured food rescue visits in Singapore’s wet-markets, and even involved canvassing for a community fridge.  

Food Fighters SG group photo
The enterprising and hard working team Food Fighters- Steffie Ong, Pauline Bureau, Haylee Han, Candice Goh (From L to R)

Introducing the team members of Food Fighters:. 

Candice started her low waste journey in 2018, documenting simple zero waste hacks/ reviews on social media @little.ways. She spends her time at Swapaholic organizing fashion swap parties to encourage others to declutter and refresh their wardrobes, while being kind to our environment.

Haylee is a free spirit who’s deeply in love with art and ethical fashion. She’s a Psychology studies student by daytime and gallery assistant at night. 

Pauline is convinced that even the largest avalanche can be triggered by the smallest things. She travels across APAC to promote and encourage best practices in the shipping industry. 

Steffie believes that everyone can play their part in making small, incremental changes for a more sustainable environment. She looks after community partnerships and drives sustainable business practices at the transport company where she works.

Read on as team shares with us their experience on being a part of ZWB #1, their campaign against food wastage and future plans. 

Journey | “There is a miracle in every beginning” – Hermann Hesse

We decided to choose food wastage as our area of #zerowaste work because we come across it in almost every corner of Singapore. Every minute, 1.5 tonnes of food is being thrown away. Sadly, most of us are oblivious to it. We too are guilty as charged! After learning that food wastage is the 2nd highest category of waste in Singapore’s incinerator, we just could not  ignore the facts any more. It is a pressing issue that needed to be addressed. Also, as food is such a relatable topic, we felt that it would be one of the easiest ways to start conversations with others within the community.

We looked at various ideas for tackling the problem at hand and felt that a ‘community fridge’ would be something that could work. How did we arrive at the ‘community fridge’ idea? We love the idea of ground up initiatives that encourage the ‘kampung spirit’. Moreover, the idea of a community fridge goes beyond rescuing food. It allows meaningful conversations and stronger relationships forged amongst neighbours.

Food Fighters SG creating awareness
Food Fighters SG creating awareness regarding food wastage and the community fridge at a roadshow.

Challenges | “Choose the mountains you want to climb wisely” – Unknown

Challenges are a part of any new project – and we learnt how to deal with ours constructively. As much as we love our idea, some might not think it’s brilliant (and that’s perfectly alright). In order to get the point of view of the beneficiaries of the proposed fridge, we conducted on-site surveys during our road show and it was interesting to hear residents’ thoughts on community fridges. Some residents were very adamant that they do not generate food waste at home – their home-cooked meals are always well-planned and there is no excess produce that needs to be thrown away. While others commented that they do not like the idea of sharing food as there are hygiene concerns. We learnt a lot listening to the varied opinions; it helped us understand the level of receptivity and commitment needed to maintain a community fridge. 

One of the biggest challenges is finding a fridge donor, and linking them up with the community centre. At this point, we are close to finalising both – but there are so many moving parts to this collaboration! A community fridge project requires a high level of commitment – from stocking the fridge, to maintaining food items, to ensuring cleanliness… and all these responsibilities are volunteer-run. Although we might think it’s a meaningful movement—and we’re excited to implement it – we haven’t yet reached a conclusion on where the fridge will be finally located.  

The educational booth at the Jurong CC highlighted the Food wastage in Singapore and gave tips on how to reduce it. The group also gave away rescused veggie FREE
The educational booth at the Jurong CC highlighted the Food wastage in Singapore and gave tips on how to reduce it. The group also gave away rescued veggie FREE.

Future | “The future depends on what we do in the present” – Mahatma Gandhi

We hope to continue our ground up initiatives with more community centres around HDB estates [Housing Development Board]. Our future plans are nothing extravagant and remain focused within the heartlands. As winners of Secondsguru’s Zero Waste Bootcamp # 1, we were given a cash grant by Singapore-based social enterprise Seastainable . This allowed our group to get more opportunities to create interesting and interactive experiences (i.e. cooking demo) during community road shows to educate the public on food waste as well as the implementation of the community fridge project.

Food Fighters at a food rescue in little india singapore
Food Fighters along with community volunteers at a vegetable rescue in Little India singapore- ensuring that they do not end up in the bin!

Personal Impact | “Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life” – Naeem Callaway

On a personal front, the workshop helped us make a few lifestyle changes that were needed like when shopping for groceries, we now purchase only what we really need from a pre-planned list. We resist the temptation of bundle offers since all of us do not have a big household and most things will expire quickly. We are making the effort to visit bulk stores to purchase smaller quantities of ingredients too.

Zero Waste Bootcamp by Secondsguru| Why we recommend it?

Our top 3 takeaways from ZWB 1 were,

* Big dreams start from small. We all can be zero waste heroes. 

* This journey is a perfect opportunity to assess your personal sustainability commitment – you have to walk the talk.

* Do things with a purpose, not for the accolades.

We would recommend this 1-day boot camp where the participants learn about zero waste lifestyles and create community action plans, followed by the 8 week roll outs in a defined community. It provides the opportunity to look deeper into our local sustainability efforts and challenges us to be creative and resourceful in delivering our zero waste proposals. It is an invaluable life lesson with lots of practical training to kick start or improve your zero waste journeys. You have to try it to believe it!

Food Fighters SG

If you are all charged up and want to join the next Secondsguru Bootcamp on Saturday, 31 August 2019, then do indicate your interest now! Details below,

Zero Waste Bootcamp



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