[Mitigation] Pollution from Food Consumption: Local Produce

Having seen the amount of pollution caused by our food consumption, you may be wondering what you can do to reduce pollution! While it may be difficult for us to address the root cause of food pollution that mostly occur during the production process, we can, as consumers, help to mitigate the pollution issue by consuming local produce.


Consuming local produce reduces our ‘food miles’ as goods are not transported miles from elsewhere (Athompson, 2017). By cutting our food miles, the environmental impact of our food consumption is reduced as local produce do not create large carbon footprints that are often generated by long-distance transport of food imports. Indeed, the consumption of local food can help to reduce our carbon footprint by up to 7% (The footprint blog, n.d.)! Cutting carbon footprint will also help with alleviating air pollution as greenhouse gas emissions are lessened.

AND… More than just reducing carbon footprint and alleviating pollution, consuming local produce have other benefits too!

  • Without the need to transport across space, local produce tends to be fresher (Athompson, 2017) than imported products as they are often put on sale right after harvests – ensuring the freshness of the product purchased!
  • Local products are often more nutritious (Athompson, 2017) than mass-produced products as local producers tend to do away with pesticides, keeping their products organic and chemical-free. Not only is this beneficial to the health of consumers, but it is also beneficial to the environment as harmful toxins like pesticides are kept away from the environment.
  • Away from the individual level, supporting local produce also helps with supporting local farmers as our consumption will generate demand and keep local businesses alive (Athompson, 2017).

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s support local produce now!

To identify local produce in Singapore, consumers can look out for the ‘SG Fresh Produce (SGFP) Logo’ on food packaging and marketing collaterals:

Local produce such as locally farmed eggs, vegetables and fish can be found in (SFA, 2020):

  • Local supermarkets;
  • SG farmers’ market located at various community spaces; and
  • Online via Lazada Redmart

Let’s support local!


Athompson. (2017, September 7). The environmental benefits of buying locally.  http://www.gogreen.org/blog/the-environmental-benefits-of-buying-locally#:~:text=Local%20food%20doesn’t%20create,facilities%2C%20packing%20facilities%20or%20refrigeration.&text=Local%20businesses%20are%20able%20to%20operate%20in%20their%20local%20communities.

The footprint blog. (n.d.) https://www.terrapass.com/eat-your-way-to-a-smaller-carbon-footprint

Singapore Food Agency. (2020, July 27). Our Singapore food story: Supporting local produce. https://www.sfa.gov.sg/food-farming/sgfoodstory/supporting-local-produce

Pollution from Food Consumption : Seafood

Familiar with these marine creatures shown above? I believe you are! More than just marine animals, these creatures often end up as delicacies on our dining plates.

Our love for seafood

Much loved by most people, Hirschmann (2020) founds that Singaporeans consumes around 21 kilograms of seafood per person per year in 2019. A trend that has been relatively constant over the past decade.

In global terms, the average per capita seafood consumption is at 19 kilograms in 2017 according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a trend which has been rising since 1961 as seen in figure 1 below.

Figure 1

BUT, have you ever wonder the environmental impacts our love for seafood may have caused?

Love for seafood turns harmful

Yes, the consumption of seafood has an impact on our environment. Most notably, plastic pollution – a pressing and prevalent issue that arise from our heavy consumption of seafood.

The bulk of plastic pollution occurs during the catch process. A study by Lebreton et al. (2018) found that the 1.6 million km2 Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) between California and Hawaii consists of:

Plastic size type Volume (metric tons) Examples
Megaplastics 42,000 Fishing nets
Macroplastics 20,000 Crates, eel trap cones, bottles
Mesoplastics 10,000 Bottle caps, oyster spacers
Microplastics 6,400 Fragments of rigid plastic objects, ropes and fishing nets

Of the massive amount of plastics found, a huge bulk of it (emphasized in bold) comes from the seafood catch process. Of noteworthy are the fishing nets (in megaplastic form) as that alone makes up 46% of the total plastic found in the GPGP.

Indeed, as articulated by Torrella (2018), “nearly half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the result of our eating [of] fish, the same fish we pledge to protect by ditching plastic straws.”

Plastic pollution in the marine environment is pressing. Marine animals can be injured as they find themselves being entangled in plastic objects – especially fishing nets or strings, or when they mistakenly ingest plastic wastes as food. These plastics, when ingested by marine animals, may end up in the food chain through bioaccumulation and biomagnification and ultimately, reaching onto our dining plates.

Moreover, it is estimated that there might be more plastic wastes than fishes in the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes by 2050 if plastic pollution is not rectified or mitigated (Awuchi & Awuchi, 2019). Together with Greenpeace International (2018) findings that over 400,000 aquatic mammals perish annually as a result of plastic pollution in our water bodies, this puts the sustainability of the seafood industry at substantial risk.

As such, there is an urgent need for the catch process to be more sustainable. Proper disposal of catch equipment should be undertaken to minimise and prevent the exacerbation of the plastic pollution issue in our waters. On the everyday level, consumers should consider turning to pseudo-seafood choices such as plant-based shrimp, crab cakes or tuna made from tomatoes (Torrella, 2018) to reduce our demand for live catch seafood and hence, alleviating the associated plastic pollution contributed by the catch process, as well as ocean depletion to maintain the sustainability of our marine ecosystem.



Awuchi, C., & Awuchi, C. (2019). Impacts of Plastic Pollution on the Sustainability of Seafood Value Chain and Human Health. International Journal of Advanced Academic Research, 5(11), 46-138. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337312788_Impacts_of_Plastic_Pollution_on_the_Sustainability_of_Seafood_Value_Chain_and_Human_Health

Greenpeace International. (2018). “Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans”. Greenpeace

International. Retrieved September 18, 2020.

Hirschmann, R. (2020, July 14). Singapore: Seafood consumption per capita 2019. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1038132/per-capita-seafood-consumption-singapore/

Lebreton, L., Slat, B., Ferrari, F., Sainte-Rose, B., Aitken, J., Marthouse, R., . . . Reisser, J. (2018). Evidence that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic. Scientific Reports, 8(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-018-22939-w

Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. (2019, September 13). Seafood Production. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://ourworldindata.org/seafood-production

Torrella, K. (2018, December 26). How the Seafood Industry is Polluting the Ocean and Killing Off Marine Life. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-the-seafood-industry-is-polluting-the-ocean

Pollution from Food Consumption : Poultry

4Fingers, Wingstop, Korean fried chicken, Har Cheong Gai, BBQ Chicken Wings, Nene Chicken and Jollibee…what do they have in common?

Pollution…and yes, chicken wings.

Table from : Singapore Food Agency (2019)

The chicken wing industry or more appropriately known as the poultry industry is a fairly pollutive industry. In Singapore, we consume approximately 190 thousand tonnes of chicken every year – that’s around 34kg chicken per capita per year (from the table above)! This is an ongoing increase from 2017 to 2018 and then to 2019. With this increasing demand for chicken considered economical and healthy in Singapore and the rest of the world, chicken farming has expanded. With the expansion of chicken farms, this means that there are a large concentration of chickens being cooped up in a small area, thus an increase as well in faeces and manure production. Interestingly, chicken manure the improper disposal of chicken manure actually causes environmental pollution (Blue, 2017).

Chicken manure contains nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen. With excess nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen in the rivers, this leads to algae bloom. Algae bloom reduces sunlight penetration in water, thus cutting the oxygen supply to underwater plants, also known as eutrophication. This essentially leads  to toxic algal or cyanobacterial blooms, thus oxygen depletion of surface waters, release of toxins, massive fish-kills and harm to the aquatic ecosystem. Chicken manure also contains a large amount of heavy metals. Thus chicken manure runoff to rivers would mean the leakage of heavy metals into freshwater streams. The aquatic life in the river would have excess heavy metals in their body, thus leading to bioaccumulation and biomagnification of heavy metals in the food chain. This might lead to us humans consuming fish or with high levels of heavy metals, which will then be detrimental to our body (UPC, 2009).

Chicken manure also produces nitrogen oxides, a component of smog. Smog is a photochemical haze (smoke and fog) caused by the reaction of ultraviolet radiation on atmospheric pollutants with hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen. To reduce the nitrogen emissions from chicken manure, countries have been considering adding digestion-boosting enzymes to chicken feed. According to Casey et al (2006), poultry production operations are a source of numerous airborne contaminants including gases, odour, dust, and microorganisms. Gases and odours are generated from livestock and poultry manure decomposition shortly after it is produced, during storage and treatment, and during land application. Particulate matter and dust are primarily composed of feed and animal matter including hair, feathers, and feces. Microorganisms that populate the gastro-intestinal systems of animals are present in freshly excreted manure. Livestock and poultry buildings may contain concentrations of contaminants that negatively affect human and animal health. Most of these health concerns are associated with chronic or long-term exposure to gases, dust, or microorganisms.

For more information on a case study involving the consequences of pollution in the poultry industry, watch this :

Chicken Waste and Water Pollution

This video, the FRONTLINE: “Poisoned Waters”, highlights the problem of water pollution in the poultry industry, in the context of Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore. They have large-scale chicken farms that dominate the landscape, producing low-cost chicken. However, this means that there is also an excess of chicken manure as a result of this. From the above, this had led to runoff from these farms to rivers and shores like Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore, which are largely unregulated, leading to massive environmental pollution.


Singapore Food Agency, 2019. Consumption of Food per Capita. Available at: https://www.sfa.gov.sg/docs/default-source/tools-and-resources/yearly-statistics/per-capita-consumption.pdf [Accessed 2020].

Blue, M.-L., 2017. Ecological Impact of Chicken Farming. Sciencing. Available at: https://sciencing.com/examples-secondary-pollutants-5314906.html [Accessed September 16, 2020].

United Poultry Concerns, 2009. Intensive Poultry Production: Fouling The Environment. United Poultry Concerns. Available at: https://www.upc-online.org/fouling.html [Accessed 2020].

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Casey, Kenneth & Bicudo, José & Schmidt, David & Anshu, Singh & Gay, Susan & Gates, Richard & Jacobson, Larry & Hoff, Steven. (2006). Air quality and emissions from livestock and poultry production/waste management systems.

Pollution from Food Consumption : Fast-food

Do these brands and logos look familiar to you? I bet they are! These brands are commonly referred to as fast-food chains which serve mass-produced food with great emphasis on their speed of service.

Once created as a commercial strategy to appeal to busy commuters and workers, where the speed of service was prioritised, fast-food has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry with revenues of over $570 billion each year globally (Sena, n.d.).

Indeed, fast-food has unknowingly become apart of our lives. In Singapore, the introduction of fast-food chain A&W Family Restaurant in 1968 has paved the way for other fast-food restaurants to venture into the Singapore market from the 1970s, including Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s and more (Omar, 2019). At present, the fast-food industry in Singapore is worth over a billion with SingStat figures showing that it generated a total of $1.1 billion in operating receipts in 2016 (Lim & Neo, 2019).

More than the favourable economic impacts (as articulated above, due to the high demand for fast-food both globally and in Singapore), it is worth noting that the fast-food industry has a relatively huge impact on the environment as well.

Before consumption, the production of meat and dairy farming alone contributes to environmental issues such as atmospheric pollution.

First, deforestation may occur to clear forested lands to make way for animal farming. The process of deforestation contributes to an increased amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere through the dual-process of removing carbon sinks and emissions from land clearance through burning.

Next, the farming process further exacerbates the pollution situation through the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). From McGrath (2019), agricultural emissions, particularly those from meat and dairy, contribute 70% of the total allowable GHG emissions. Here, the production of meat and dairy to cater to the ever-expanding fast-food industry clearly have polluting effects on the environment.

But, pollution does not end at the production phase.

Upon consumption, plastic waste from the packaging and storing of fast-food is generated. These plastic wastes contribute to a variety of pollution forms – from land pollution via litters, to aquatic pollution via the transportation of litters, and to atmospheric pollution when plastics are being incinerated or left to degrade in the environment. To obtain more detailed information on the effects of plastics from food packaging, read here.

All in all, this blog post seeks to raise awareness on the pollution effects of our consumption of fast-food. While fast-food is a highly desirable food option given its delightful taste, the convenience of purchase and affordable prices, it is important for us, as consumers, to be aware of the environmental impacts our consumption so as to make a more conscious and informed decision.

Stay tuned for our next post!



Lim, J., & Neo, R. (2019, June 08). The Big Read in short: S’poreans’ love for fast food. Retrieved September 13, 2020, from https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/big-read-short-sporeans-love-fast-food

McGrath, M. (2019, January 29). Fast food giants under fire on climate and water usage. Retrieved September 13, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47029485

Omar, M. (2019, May). Fast-food chains. Retrieved September 13, 2020, from https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_1037_2008-12-03.html

Sena, M. (n.d.). Fast Food Industry Analysis 2020 – Cost & Trends. Retrieved September 13, 2020, from https://www.franchisehelp.com/industry-reports/fast-food-industry-analysis-2020-cost-trends/

Pollution from Food Consumption : Metal Straws – Good or Bad?

With the emergence of various new bubble tea establishments in Singapore and the popularity of coffeehouses like Starbucks and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, it is not a shock that there is a large number of single-use plastic straws being disposed (not even recycled) in Singapore. These establishments provide plastic straws for their drinks in a ‘take as you go’ manner, where there is no limit of straws you can take per purchase. Because of this, many plastic straws are wasted and disposed unnecessarily.

In Singapore, there are

Are you aware of the incident that started the popularisation of the massive ban of plastic straws?

Plastic straws are but one of the many types of plastic wastes that end up in the oceans. Some of these plastic wastes like straws, from the Turtle Incident above, end up physically harming marine life. Though this incident did spark off a massive movement of the banning of straws, this is just an isolated incident. There could be thousands more of marine life being subjected to such harsh situations because of the amount of plastics, especially plastics straws we consume.

As such, corporations like Starbucks and Burger King begin to listen to the plight of the masses (see document by Jacksonville (2018) below) to gradually reduce and eliminate the use of plastic straws by providing more sustainable options like paper straws. In a more relatable context, The drink stall in The Deck at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in NUS have also stopped providing plastic straws and instead, gives out paper straws instead for the fruit juices. UTOWN is also a plastic-straw free area where FoodClique and FineFood in UTOWN do not give out plastic straws to consumers (with the exception of GongCha, an outside corporation who has a franchise in UTOWN).

Alternatives of plastic straws have also been made available and popular in the recent years ever since the movement to reduce plastic straws began. Alternatives like bamboo straws, paper straws as mentioned from above and especially metal straws has become popular to the masses.

What are their advantages? For example, bamboo straws and paper straws are compostable unlike plastic straws, and thus at the end of its life cycle, a bulk of bamboo and paper straws would not pollute the earth. Metal straws are eco-friendly in such a way that unlike plastic straws, they are durable and thus can be reused a lot more than once. However, there are also disadvantages.

Pollution from metal straw production is a growing issue that needs to be focused on. Compared to a plastic straw with 1.46g of carbon dioxide emissions, producing one metal straw could release about 217g of carbon dioxide emissions (Woo, 2019). Metal straws are actually unsustainable. Not for its material, but for how it was made – its production stage. Metal straws are made out of nickel that are actually mined, more often than not, unsustainably. One example would be in Palawan, Philippines which was reduced to a wasteland for nickel mining (Freeman, 2019).

Click here for an in-depth list on alternative straws and their advantages and disadvantages.

So…are they good or bad? Well, let’s look at the graphic table below.


All straws have their advantages and disadvantages. The above graphic shows that though the movement to ban plastic straws are done in the best interest for the Earth and its continuity, there is a certain group in the community that’s going to be affected by this. The plastic ban would greatly hurt disabled people and those in hospitals recovering after a surgery. Plastic straws, like its cost and production, is very accessible and easy to use. It is positionable, bendy and not a choking hazard. So though it is important for us to reduce the use of plastic straws, it is also important to still produce them for vulnerable groups in the community.

Here’s another blog post that talks more in depth about the issue on the disabled community and plastic straws.


Plastic Pollution Coalition. (2015, November 11). The Turtle That Became the Anti-Plastic Straw Poster Child. Retrieved from https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/pft/2015/10/27/the-turtle-that-became-the-anti-plastic-straw-poster-child

Starbucks to Eliminate Plastic Straws Globally by 2020 2018, , Jacksonville.

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Woo, A., 2020. How eco-friendly is a reusable straw? The Straits Times. Available at: https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/how-eco-friendly-is-a-reusable-straw [Accessed September 15, 2020].

Freeman, K., 2019. Metal straws are unsustainable. The Silhouette. Available at: https://www.thesil.ca/metal-straws-are-unsustainable [Accessed September 15, 2020].



Pollution from Food Packaging : Diving deeper into Plastics


Plastics, a material that is widely used by all of us. Look around you right now, I am sure you will definitely be able to spot something ‘plasticky’ in your surroundings!

Plastics are just everywhere thanks to their strength, resistance, durability, and ease to manufacture. An added bonus? They are lightweight and cost-friendly to produce too! With such characteristics, it is no surprise that plastics are the go-to for producers and consumers alike.

In the food industry, plastics have no doubt been widely used to store or package food products. Enter the supermarket and you will be surrounded by a variety of food carefully cocooned in plastic to keep it fresh, bacteria-free and protecting it from damage. The usefulness of plastic, therefore, explains the rapid growth of plastic food packaging – which is expected to become a $370 billion market in 2020.

Well, plastics are amazing but our daily use of plastics, especially single-use plastics that are often associated with food packaging, is posing a very real threat to our environment! So much so that the United Nations has declared the situation of marine pollution by plastic “a planetary crisis”.

Indeed, as seen from Ocean Conservancy’s 2018 beach cleanup, 9 out its top 10 most retrieved item are related to food and drink packaging. If this does not serve as a sign and evidence to this ‘plastic crisis’ that we are in and garner a change in lifestyle behaviours, we will soon be snorkelling with plastics rather than the vibrant marine life.

Read on to find out more about the negative impacts these transparent material are inflicting on our environment…

The Woes of Plastic Packaging

Before plastics are used, the process of producing these very pollutants is itself polluting the environment. One of the factor inputs of plastics is fossil fuels – oil and natural gas. During the process of fossil fuel extraction,  toxic gases such as sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, and etc. are emitted. These toxic emissions contribute to atmospheric pollution.

After production and use, the (im)proper disposal of plastics contribute to water and land pollution.

When buried and disposed at landfills, the non-biodegradable nature of plastics renders its persistence in our environment. More than land pollution by its physical form (ie: by just existing), water pollution can occur when chemicals from these plastics leach into the groundwater and soil, contaminating aquifers and the water bodies along its path.

Even when plastics are ‘properly’ disposed of through incineration, the burning of plastic releases harmful substances such as heavy metals, toxic chemicals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution.

If improperly disposed of, such as plastic litters, these plastics first pollute the land, then the aquatic environment as they get washed into water bodies. In particular, our ocean is increasingly being polluted by plastics. Out of all the trash that can be found floating around the gyres in our blue waters, plastic is believed to constitute 90% of it. The actual amount of plastic in surface waters is not very well known, but estimates range from 10,000s to 100,000s tonnes. Plastic waters rather than blue waters?

Clearly, the convenience of plastic packaging in our foods have come at a price to our environment. To find out more about plastic pollution as a whole, check out this paper by:

Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. (2018, September). Plastic Pollution. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution

At last, we hope that this blog post has made you more aware of the woes of plastic and that the next time you head to the supermarket, you will skip the extra plastic bag to put your apples in, and bring your own grocery bag. Or you could even visit a zero-waste grocery store to avoid all the pesky plastics and go plastic-free!

Some zero-waste grocery stores in Singapore to start your plastic-free journey include:

The Source Bulk Foods

Scoop Wholefoods



The Social Space

The Zero Ways



Foodprint. (2020, March 30). The Environmental Impact of Food Packaging. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from https://foodprint.org/issues/the-environmental-impact-of-food-packaging/

Fortuna, A. (2019, May 5). How Does Plastic Cause Air Pollution?: RePurpose Global Blog. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from https://repurpose.global/letstalktrash/how-does-plastic-cause-air-pollution/

Parker, L. (2019, September 03). Plastic food packaging was most common beach trash in 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/09/plastic-food-packaging-top-trash-global-beach-cleanup-2018/

Types of Plastic Food Packaging and Safety: A Close-Up Look. (2019, May 07). Retrieved September 10, 2020, from https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/types-plastic-food-packaging-safety-close-look/



Pollution from Food Consumption : The Big Picture

The global food system, which encompasses the production, manufacture and distribution of food, is a highly inefficient, fragmented and corrupted industry riddled with imbalances stemming from social disparities. While more than 820 million people went hungry in 2017, in that same year, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food, which is one third of all food produced in the world, were either lost or wasted. An incredibly regrettable and unfortunate event, considering how much the environment is at stake when it comes to food production.

In fact, food production and agriculture is constantly named as one of the most contributing factors to habitat loss and deforestation. The mass destruction of forests in the name of harvesting cost us nearly 32 million acres of forests every year, and despite the many promises of corporations to cut down this number, the rate has been steady from years 2001 to 2015. Forest conversions has had other massive consequences; habitat loss of local fauna and flora, loss of biodiversity, climate disturbances and soil erosion are a few on the long list of environmental degradation caused by forest degradation on a massive scale. The price the environment has to pay is phenomenally high considering the fact that a large amount of the food produced does not reach the nearly 1 billion mouths of the under privileged that go hungry every year, and the lucky majority that does have access to the commodity waste it excessively. Not to mention, food waste accounts for 21 percent of the waste stream as they end up mostly in landfills, producing enormous amounts of methane.

In fact, the entire food system is responsible for about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, which makes this commodity-driven industry highly detrimental to the environment. What can be done to make this system more sustainable and eco-friendly? Several actions can be taken to reduce the destruction of our forests; the rainforest alliance proposes sustainable forestry which recognises that while curbing forest conversion in its entirety may be unrealistic, finding the balance between deforestation and forest growth may control the damage being done. Individuals should make conscious decisions to reduce food wastage, but on a bigger government scale, ethical regulations and laws should be infused into the food system. In 2016, France became the first country to ban supermarket wastage, and many countries followed in their footsteps, and in 2018, the UK government devised a governmental scheme in conjunction with businesses and charities for proper food disposal to curb food wastage.

There are many ways in which the consumption of food and its roots contribute to environmental pollution. This section of the blog will explore areas from the production to the consumer – topics like food packaging single plastic wastes and carbon footprint.

Find out more about this topic here:

  1. About deforestation and agriculture.
    • Infographic: http://www.fao.org/resources/infographics/infographics-details/en/c/425852/
  2. Food waste and the footprint it leaves behind.
  3. The future of food and agriculture.
    • Infographic: http://www.fao.org/resources/infographics/infographics-details/en/c/471471/

Pollution from Food Consumption : Saturated Market in the Sustainable Eco-Market

Hey guys!

This blog post will talk about the Sustainable Eco-Market in depth and how it is increasingly getting saturated.

The Sustainable Eco-Market refers to the market in which products promote ‘sustainability’ and eco friendliness. Such items include often easily disposable items like reusable straws, reusable containers, tumblers (in replacement for those disposable coffee cups you buy in Starbucks daily! UK disposes 2.5 Billion coffee cups a year! Imagine where all that rubbish can go to…) , reusable grocery bags in replacement of plastic bags and even reusable coffee filters. This post will focus on products related to the food.

For example in Singapore, because of the fast-paced life where many are too busy at work and in school to conjure up a meal from scratch, there is a prevalence of a ‘takeaway culture’. Many would opt for the convenience of ordering from Food Delivery platforms like GrabFood, Food Panda and Deliveroo or takeaway (or ‘Dabao’) from hawker centres and other food establishments instead. More often than not, the food packaging is of disposal plastic containers and utensils. A 6-month Singapore Environment Council Survey (SEC) found that Singapore used 467 million polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles a year and 473 million plastic disposable items like takeaway containers where only less than 20 per cent of these items were recycled.

In 2018, 1.6 million tonnes of domestic waste was disposed, and a third of it is made up of packaging. Of the third, more than half of it were plastic disposables. However, out of all these, only 4% is recycled. More can be done to reduce the dependency on disposable food packaging as well as increasing our recycling rates.

Hence, many initiatives sprung up in the recent years in light of this problem. One of which is Zero Waste SG in 2017, where they started the Bring Your Own (BYO) Singapore movement. BYO movement partnered with 430 retail outlets and offered incentives to customers who bring their own reusable bags, bottles or containers. This reduced approximately 2.5 million plastic disposables. This inspired many individuals to start bringing their own containers (BYO) to hawker centres and other food establishments to reduce food packaging wastes. Interestingly, this also inspired the start-up of many small business owners to start selling reusable lunchboxes and reusable food packaging to promote a ‘sustainable lifestyle’.

However, in Singapore and evidently in the whole world, the market for sustainable and eco-friendly products is increasingly getting saturated. This is where we draw the line between being eco friendly and sustainable to being pollutive and wasteful. There is a growing number of small business jumping on the bandwagon of selling reusable straws, tumblers, lunchboxes and many more to promote a sustainable, eco-friendly and reduced pollutive lifestyle. However, though we do agree that the foundation of this venture is noble as it does promote and advocate for a sustainable shift in lifestyle, the saturation of the market only means that more products are being produced and will end up being wasted and improperly disposed.

What then, can people do?

Shifting to a ‘sustainable lifestyle’ seems like jumping on a trendy bandwagon. Instead of buying a new lunchbox or reusable utensils set, one can just seek what they already have at home. One does not need to purchase a brand new set of ‘reusable’ items when there’s a 99% chance an unused set of lunchbox and utensils is left unused tucked away at the back of the kitchen cabinet.

That is one thing we can do to be a more mindful consumer to reduce unnecessary pollution. Comment down below if you have any more ideas!



Fearnley-Whittingstall, H., 2016. Viewpoint: The waste mountain of coffee cups. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36882799 [Accessed September 10, 2020].

Hong, J., 2018. Singapore goes through 1.76 billion plastic items a year, recycles less than 20%. The Straits Times. Available at: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-goes-through-167-billion-plastic-items-a-year-recycles-less-than-20-per-cent-of [Accessed September 10, 2020].

Towards Zero Waste Singapore, Packaging Waste. Towards Zero Waste Singapore. Available at: https://www.towardszerowaste.gov.sg/waste-streams/packaging-waste/ [Accessed September 10, 2020].