Low-to-no effort lifestyle changes you can make to do your part for the climate

A little effort truly goes a long way.

Fiona Tan | July 12, 2021, 11:00 AM

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As I waited in line to dabao (take away) my food, my eyes drifted to the additional S$0.20 charge on the takeaway containers.

Curious about how the takeaway charges add up, I did some quick math.

Turns out, if you dabao two meals every day for a year, it will rack up close to S$150! Now I know why I still can’t afford my own Netflix subscription.

And that’s excluding the detrimental environmental costs from my using and disposing of at least 730 single-use containers in a year of my “dabao lifestyle”.

While I can’t avoid all disposables and their costs without a massive life overhaul, I was motivated to find simpler alternative ways to recover my losses and do my part to combat climate change.

Here are some low-to-no effort and pocket-friendly climate actions that I have tried and 10/10 would recommend:

No effort: Small home habits that add up

Starting in familiar territory: your home.

From the comforts of your home, there are many small, and consequently overlooked, ways to save money and be environmentally friendly.

For example, switching off electronic appliances when they are not in use, not leaving the tap running or using fans instead of air conditioners when possible.

You can even go a step further by using water-efficient and energy-efficient home appliances which save money in the long run and are more climate friendly.

Like the takeaway containers, these small habits matter.

No effort: Reducing avoidable food waste

Food waste is one of the key drivers of climate change and for a country that loves food, a shocking amount of it goes to waste.

One no-effort way to reduce food waste and save money is to buy food items on clearance at the supermarket during your next grocery run.

These items are usually nearing expiry or spot a little imperfection, but they are perfectly fit for consumption. FYI, they are way cheaper too.

They can easily be found If you keep your eyes peeled for the reduced-to-clear labels or sections.

Examples of reduced-to-clear labels on food products sold at local supermarkets.

How a reduced-to-clear section looks.

No effort: Support local farmers

While we’re on the topic of food, let’s talk about local produce.

When you buy local produce, you get fresher ingredients while supporting local farmers at the same time.

Food grown domestically travels a much shorter distance from local farms to you. Local produce therefore lowers our carbon footprint and reduces food waste from spoilage or damage while in transit.

Conveniently stocked at most major supermarkets, local produce have the distinct bright red “SG Fresh Produce” logo.

A wide variety of local produce ranging from vegetables to eggs and fish. Image from Singapore Food Agency/FB.

Image from Singapore Food Agency/FB.

No effort: Reusing plastic packaging creatively

Doing away with plastic packaging entirely is unlikely.

The very least that can be done is to avoid contributing to plastic waste unnecessarily.

This can be done with a bit of creativity. For instance, repurposing plastic packaging.

For example, reusing the instant noodles packaging to pack or hold a midday snack instead of a sandwich bag.

Some plastic packaging even has a zip and can be reused as Ziploc bags to store dried goods, or clothes after a workout.

Low effort: Fixing household appliances

Household appliances not working like they used to before? Consider getting them fixed by Repair Kopitiam before recycling or throwing them out.

Repair Kopitiam is a monthly initiative with a friendly community that repairs your home appliances and clothing for free, rescuing them from the fiery pits of incineration plants.

Friendly gurus, free repairs and waste reduction, need I say more?

Sessions take place on the last Sunday of every month at Tampines, Jurong East, Pasir Ris, and Choa Chu Kang. All you have to do is register for a slot before heading down.

The little effort required to travel to the location, appliance in tow, is definitely worth your while.

Image from Repair Kopitiam/FB.

Climate Action Week is here

You do not have to go to great lengths to do your part to combat climate change.

Like the above examples, a collective effort of small, albeit imperfect, actions will add up.

And it’s never too late to start.

Organised by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, the Climate Action Week is your chance to find out more about climate change and how you can do your part.

This year, Climate Action Week runs from July 12 to July 18, and involves over 60 partners organising more than 120 activities.

The public can look forward to a line-up of ground-up initiatives such as workshops, webinars, games, and activities. You can possibly discover more low to no effort climate actions from these initiatives!

Some examples are a game-based workshop on recycling by Eco-Statement and an opportunity to quiz climate scientists from the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

In addition, prizes can be won when you track your climate action with the susGain app. SusGain has also committed to planting a tree with each action tracked.

Find out more about the Climate Action Week here.

Top image and all images by Fiona Tan, unless stated otherwise. The writer of this article, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, regularly haunts the reduced-to-clear sections in supermarkets to search for bargains.