As the habit of recycling at home steadily gained traction in Singapore, you might be familiar with the usual recyclable items around the house such as cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and aluminum cans, and how to go about recycling them. There is certainly more to the list and you might be surprised by some unexpected ones. Here are some additional items at home you never knew you could recycle as well.
Light bulbs are considered a form of e-waste and can be recycled. Due to the nature of the product, they cannot be deposited into the common recycling bins located within the residential areas. With most lamps and light bulbs being mostly made up of glass, metal and limited amounts of mercury, improper disposal could lead to contamination.
What to do: Check in with your neighbourhood community centres if they have a collection point for faulty light bulbs and lamps to be recycled by professionals.
Face mist, paint sprays, insecticides and hair sprays – these everyday household items can come in the form of aerosol cans. Aerosol containers or spray cans are pressurised products that can start a fire or cause injuries when you dispose them in the trash where they can be punctured and explode.
What to do: Empty the aerosol cans before recycling them in our common neighbourhood recycling bins. An empty spray can is safe for disposal if you no longer hear air being released from the container when the nozzle is pressed.
With our phones constantly by our side all the time, you can imagine how important it is for it to have sufficient battery life. As such, portable chargers and electrical cables have become almost indispensable in our everyday lives.
With daily use, wear and tear is expected much like any other household items. Consider if it is possible to have it repaired with your local repairman or to do an exchange with the manufacturer.
What to do: Should throwing out be the only available option, don’t be too quick to bin it as these items can be recycled as e-waste. Check out these locations where cables and portable chargers can be recycled!
According to the World Health Organisation, at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment or blindness, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented. By recycling your unused glasses, it is a great way to put your old glasses to good use while making a difference in enabling the vision of those in need.
What to do: Do a quick check for local optical shops which collect or trade in old spectacles. One such optical shop is Visio Optical, who runs an eyewear collection programme where everyone is encouraged to donate their old or new spectacles and sunglasses that are in usable conditions. The glasses will then be reworked and offered to people with financial difficulty unable to access or afford quality eye care, providing them with proper prescription glasses.
Being able to recycle these unexpected household items, it broadens the perspective of how we view recyclable items to not just be confined to the usual suspects. The next time before you bin something, do a quick check with this list if it can be recycled.
As sustainability becomes more of a necessity with the increasing urgency of climate change, it’s time we practice more mindful habits to leave the world in better hands for the generations after us.
Image Credits: Nylon Coffee Roasters
Source: The Sustainability Project
by Alvin Chong
We all have memories of our parents telling us not to waste food when we were younger. However, the issue of food waste in Singapore expands far beyond simply finishing food left on your plate. According to statistics provided by the National Environment Agency (NEA), Singaporeans disposed 744 million kilograms of food in 2019. Putting this into context, that’s about 2 bowls of rice per person wasted every day, or 51,000 double decker buses of wasted food generated every year!
Our nation’s trend on food waste is on a worrying rise, with the amount increasing by about 20% over the past 10 years. This figure is also expected to increase, alongside our nation’s growing population and economic activity.
To find out how we can address this unhealthy trend, an understanding of Singapore’s most typical avenues of food waste must first be reached.
With our nation’s love and passion for food, it is no surprise that Singapore’s food waste emerges from all avenues along its supply chain. From food distributors, to supermarkets, restaurants, and finally within our own households – most of us are part of this vicious cycle.
For instance, cosmetic filtering is a common phenomenon that happens with most food retailers. This practice is exactly what it sounds like, where foodstuffs are filtered and selected based on how edible or appealing, they look. Items that fail to meet the aesthetic standards of the chefs or retailers are discarded without reaching the shelves. A study revealed that stall owners at a wet market dispose of up to 30,000 kilograms of unwanted vegetables and fruits every day based on this very reason.
Another top avenue for food waste boils down to the improper inventory management of food stock by restaurants and chefs. This occurs most commonly when restaurants overorder more food than what is required, to avoid running out of food during service.
Finally, food waste is something that happens in our households as well. According to a study conducted by the NEA and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the top three reasons people at home threw food away was because “it had expired, gone mouldy, or that it looked, smelled or tasted bad”, which caused many Singaporeans to throw away food that may still be safe for consumption.
As more food is wasted each year, an increased amount will also have to be sourced to meet the growing and misrepresented demand for food within our nation. This directly places a greater amount of stress on Singapore’s food security goals, where local food producers such as our ChangeMakersSG Comcrop, are striving to meet 30% of the country’s nutritional needs by the year 2030.
Aside from having to meet a growing demand for food, Singapore is also being forced to step up its waste disposal systems to efficiently dispose and incinerate the large volumes of food wasted every day. The incinerated food is then added on to our landfills, which when buried and broken down, emits methane – a greenhouse gas known to contribute towards global warming.
Lastly, each step of the food supply chain involves a huge amount of resources and processes, such as food production, storage, and transportation, with each activity leaving its own carbon footprint on the planet. By consuming and wasting more food than we need, we are therefore heightening our planet’s crisis of climate change.
To better minimise food waste at home, you can begin by simply being careful to only purchase what your household needs. In doing so, you avoid having to throw away spoiled food, or grapple with whether a certain food item can still be eaten or not. On top of that, try exploring the option of using your leftovers to transform them into new dishes for the next meal, instead of being so quick to throw your excess dinner away.
Finally, in the event where you have excess food that you know you won’t be able to finish, you can donate them to the various charities and non-profit organisations that will put your food to better use. One of Geneco’s ChangeMakers The Food Bank Singapore, specialises in redistributing food that has been rejected by food retailers and manufacturers due to cosmetic reasons, giving them instead to the less privileged communities in Singapore who grapple with food insecurity every day.
While Singapore’s food waste issue is not one to be taken lightly, there are plenty of efforts, initiatives, and resources around for us to educate ourselves about regarding this issue. However, more than just looking at the solutions we have, the key to a long-term solution lies in adopting a different, better mindset on how food can be consumed, and conserved.
Everyone has a part to play, and with food being an integral part of each of our lives, the change can always be started within ourselves.
a month against regulated tariff