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Composting Bins, Herb Gardens, and More: 4 Singaporeans Show Us How They Go Green at Home

Mary Wu
Composting Bins, Herb Gardens, and More: 4 Singaporeans Show Us How They Go Green at Home
Nowadays, more Singaporeans are adopting sustainable habits in their everyday lives. Aside from jumping on the bandwagon of using reusables, green efforts at home come in the form of saving water and electricity, switching to cleaner sources of energy such as driving electric vehicles instead of petrol-powered ones, recycling, and more.
Even for those of us who aren’t exactly conscious environmentalists, being eco-friendly and reducing consumption can lower our costs of living. For example, homeowners can attest to how the electricity tariff has increased by over 50% in recent years. While some have switched electricity retailers and signed up for a better rate, others are taking the opportunity to consciously sign up for a green electricity plan.
That aside, let’s go beyond the usual ways to go green at home. We speak to four Singaporeans to find out how they’re going above and beyond for a more sustainable way of life.

1. Healthier Edibles Through Composting

Vermicomposting is the practice of breaking down food scraps with the help of worms. And it is not just limited to food, says Rachelle, who started this eco-friendly activity during the Circuit Breaker period in 2020.
The homemaker and artist, who is in her 30s, explained, “It all started with my newfound interest in gardening my own edibles during the pandemic. I had always been practising sustainability, especially with arts and crafts. Through gardening, I discovered other sustainability practices through composting and vermicomposting.
“Our fruit and vegetable scraps from food prep can be used for composting. Vermicomposting speeds up the process by making use of composting worms that feed on these scraps. An excess of scraps can be packed and stored in the freezer to feed the worms, or buried into potted soil for composting.”
“Even brown scraps, such as toilet rolls and cardboard (unbleached and non-glossy paper products) from crafting, can be composted as well!”
With the compost, Rachelle is able to improve the soil condition in her garden, and she is happy to report that since she began, her plants are now thriving.
“Don’t need to spend money on commercial compost, and this creates a sustainable cycle that is beneficial to the environment. It also shows that it is possible to live sustainably without excessive wastage,” she noted.
For her, living mindfully is a conscious choice that takes time and effort.
“It’s easier to throw waste into bins than create a sustainable system. However, I would encourage those who already keep plants at home to consider creating their own compost bin. It’s actually really simple with some brown and green scraps. Use a lidded bin with meshed holds to prevent pests from entering and fill it with fruit/veggie scraps (greens) and then bury this with shredded cardboard/toilet roll/newspaper (browns) with a sprinkle of compost to kick start the process.”
Food scraps are kept in the freezer.
She keeps her food scraps in the freezer. This not only ensures her compost worms have their “food”, but freezing the food scraps prior to composting also speeds up the process of the food breaking down.
Not only does this reduce food waste, but ensures that her family has big, tasty greens to feast on from her beautiful garden!

2. Herbs on Demand

Oftentimes, the herbs we purchase from the supermarket come in plastic packaging. They may also be too much for our recipe, and we may end up throwing the excess away later as the aromatic plants have wilted or dried out in the fridge.
For Kelly, an avid home cook, the perfect green solution came in the form of a gift.
The e-commerce specialist shared, “I was always interested in the Click & Grow Smart Indoor Herb and Plant Garden to grow my own herbs for cooking but I didn’t act on it until I was gifted the smart indoor garden system by a neighbour."
"My first plant showed promising results and the yield is great, so I gradually expanded my herb collection from there. I checked and the basic system is $140, while seed packs start from $4 and are sold in 3s or 9s.”
Although this may seem pricey, for the 34-year-old mother, it’s the perfect solution for her busy lifestyle.
“We now have fresh herbs when we need them. Fresh herbs are very expensive in the supermarket and their lifespan is short, so you end up wasting a lot. I trim my herb plants regularly and store these trimmings in the freezer for later use. The bonus is that they are grown at home so you know that they are truly free of nasties, pesticides, and more!”

3. Starting a Pail Habit

Many habits are formed over time, and in Tan’s case, the starting point of his green practice was purely intentional.
The 29-year-old, who works in marketing, recalled, “I got into collecting laundry water because I realised most of the laundry water that was gushing out of the washer’s pipes was actually pretty clean. So, I tried to collect the water once, twice, and then it became a habit.”
He used the water to flush the toilet, and as a result, he not only reduced his water consumption but also saved up to 40% on his water bills.
Tan shared, “I used to collect pails of water from the laundry to flush the toilet when I was using a top-load washer. Top-load washers tend to use lots of water, up to six pails per wash (about 30 to 42 litres of water).
“At that time, the water pipe wasn’t routed into the floor, so I could collect all the bubbly, dirty, and the final rounds of clean water. This green practice helped me save a lot on my water bills. The only downside was that my toilet was filled with pails of water, and I had little space to walk!”
Eventually, Tan switched from a top-load washer to a water-saving 6-litre front-load machine and dropped the practice. However, he still highly recommends it: “If you have a top-load washing machine, just route the water output pipe into your pails. You need six to eight pails at home and then place these pails next to your toilets for use after.”

4. Good Green Habits Like Recycling Begin at Home

For Drea, an account director in her 40s, inculcating her sons with good green habits starts from a young age. Her household practises recycling, refusing disposables and actively trying to reduce waste.
"Having seen how much waste we have, and having watched documentaries that show how our oceans and Mother Earth is affected, we decided that going green is an effort we can undertake with minimal effort. Every little bit helps, as long as we can contribute towards a sustainable environment for future generations,” she said
Her family started the practice over six years ago, and her sons are also well-informed on good green habits from school. They recycle newspapers and other paper products, including flattening empty boxes and paper packaging. Plastics and glass are cleaned, sorted and kept in a designated bag in the kitchen. These are properly recycled once the bags are full.
"The children learn that it is everyone’s job to do their part. Every effort, regardless of how insignificant it may seem, contributes towards a world that they are protecting. The boys learn the right way to recycle plastics and glass so recycling is done properly and meaningfully.”
“As a parent, I want a sustainable world for my children. It is only when we ourselves understand how green practices can help, and practice them together as a family, that having a sustainable world for our future generation can be a reality instead of just a wish,” she added.
“You can start small. For example, begin refusing single-use plastic cutlery when packing food at home. Every little effort makes a difference.”

Going Green at Home: One Step at a Time Goes a Long Way

Just like these Singaporeans’ efforts, every little contribution takes us closer to a more sustainable future and way of life. Saving money is another bonus that comes out of it.
Other ways to go green are to be selective of your air-conditioning usage, turning it on for just long enough to cool the room (about 30 minutes), while ensuring there’s little energy loss by sealing doors and closing their windows and using the fan to circulate the air.
Then there are other steps such as installing window film to minimise heat and glare from the sun so that the home remains cooler; utilising natural sunlight, taking advantage of natural ventilation and more.
You can go a step further and work on reducing food waste too. By planning your menu in advance, sharing your extra food with neighbours, and using residual oven heat after baking/roasting to warm food, are just some ways you can adopt eco-friendly practices in the kitchen.
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FAQs About Being Sustainable at Home

When a country and its people adopt sustainable practices, they help to maintain the health of the environment, which is the fabric that supports our own well-being, among other benefits.

The Singapore Green Plan 2030 is a whole-of-nation movement to advance our national agenda on sustainable development.

Yes, look for the PropertyGuru Green Score, an indicator to tell you how eco-friendly your present or new home is. Factors include proximity to public transport, sustainability awards won from ‘PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards’,green building rating assessment (i.e. BCA Green Mark certification).