Are you #Down4Earth? This World Environment Day, ZERRIN spotlight’s Singapore-based sustainability advocates and their tips for living greener.
It’s no secret that climate change is the battle of our times. From the devastating impact of single-use plastics, to the contamination of rivers caused by chemicals used to dye our clothes, years of poor practices and ‘turning a blind eye’ have led to where we are today: a warming earth, more extreme weather patterns, ecosystem disruption, landfills full to bursting and accelerating sea levels.
But while we (and that’s a very nuanced ‘we’, as big industry bears a huge amount of responsibility!) may have caused these issues, everyone can be part of the solution. And what better day to pledge that than World Environment Day? Celebrated on June 5th, the global event by the United Nations encourages greater public awareness and action to protect and regenerate our planet.
Throughout this week, thousands of global citizens and organisations are raising their voice to join #GenerationRestoration, sharing how they’re greening up cities, changing diets or cleaning up rivers and landfills. And that got team ZERRIN thinking, why not spotlight the inspiring work of sustainability advocates in Singapore we know and admire?
That’s how the idea for #Down4Earth came about; a localised campaign spotlighting 13 individuals who’ve found their own ways to champion our environment. From fighting fast fashion waste to removing plastic from our oceans, they walk the walk and empower others to do the same.
Ultimately, we don’t need a handful of people being perfectly sustainable, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly! We know these incredible humans will inspire you to find your own ways to take action, whether it’s attending a beach clean up, starting your urban garden or reducing your meat intake. Read on to learn how they’re #Down4Earth and their thoughts on how other individuals, brands and industries can take action too.
Raye Padit, founder of clothes swapping destination The Fashion Pulpit
“I’d love to see more of us practicing the 3 simple R’s: To reduce and think before you buy your next garment, to reuse existing pieces in our wardrobes and to rethink our purchasing choices; we vote with our wallets for the future we want to see for the fashion industry. Through swapping, you can extend the lifespan of your clothes and reduce your textile waste, water usage, carbon emission and land use by up to 20%!”
Yumika Hoskin, founder of Pecobag
“When you start a business, profit is always a huge factor. But I think pride in your product, connection to your customers and being true to your mission is the most important thing. So for brands, I believe whether they’re a sustainable business or not, there’s always ways they can offset their carbon footprint or give back to projects, like planting trees and donating to charities. I’m #Down4Earth by prioritising giving back to save our environment.”
Mathilda D’Silva, Founder of Ocean Purpose Project
“Sustainability as we know it needs to be disrupted. It’s not just the domain of tree-huggers or corporates trying to make themselves look good on the ESG spreadsheet. It’s about creating a ‘blue ocean’ of possibility and rewriting what business as usual is all about. Ocean Purpose Project’s goal is to bring about disruptive change in the way we manage the problems of marine pollution through test-bedding innovative projects.
For individuals, don’t be afraid to just go out and try ideas: organise your own beach clean-up, do the research, start your own movement. Everyone can find their own ways to connect with the environment, whether you’re a musician, a diver or an engineer. I’m proof that you don’t need an Environmental Science degree or years of experience in sustainability to change the way we live! Now is the time to be #Down4Earth: let’s start today to save tomorrow. When people come together, great things can happen.”
Estella Ho, founding member of SG Climate Rally
“I’m committed to contributing to a just transition to a net-zero economy, and resisting business as usual, be it in my capacity as an activist, through my corporate job or as an ordinary citizen. I hope to see more people engaging in collective action, be it calling for change in the workplace, or at a municipal or national level. There’s strength in numbers; I certainly couldn’t have done half the things that the SG Climate Rally movement has achieved over the last two years by myself.
Caring about an issue as complex and systemic as the climate crisis can be overwhelming and isolating at times, so it helps to have a community to offer much needed emotional support. I’ve learnt so much through my fellow SG Climate Rally members, not only about activism but also about how to better care for each other, and my life is definitely the better for it.”
Mahima Gujral, founder of slow fashion label Sui
“This World Environment Day and beyond, we can all be #Down4Earth and give our planet a chance by believing in the connection that we all hold with nature and manifesting it in our daily routines. I know it sounds cheesy, but I truly believe that working towards understanding that connection will show us the way.
As individuals we never stop learning, so continue to educate yourself about sustainability in your day-to-day habits, and also within the work you do. Find and connect with others who are passionate about the same thing. Having those conversations and striving to build a support system goes a long way. Most importantly, everyone’s journey is different. Don’t get overwhelmed if you see someone else on a different path. The most important thing is that you, as an individual or as a brand, take steps to do better than before.”
Nadia Kishlan, Producer at Rooted
“As individuals, the most important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself and take it one step at a time. Don’t judge yourself and don’t judge others. It’s ok to not know how to do something, the great thing is there are lots of resources out there to help you!
I find that it also helps to join communities so that you can learn from others, while not feeling so alone in your sustainability journey. It’s totally possible to change our habits so that we can be better caretakers of Mother Earth.”
Olivia Choong, urban gardener at The Tender Gardener
“I believe in owning less (this is difficult when it comes to gardening!) and instead buying better quality so that it can last for a long time. I compost and harvest rainwater and try to create as little waste as possible, and reuse what I have on hand and recirculate what I no longer need. To be #Down4Earth this World Environment Day, everyone can try to be minimalist in at least one area of their lives!”
Kate Yeo, founder of BYO Bottle SG
“One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is that individually, it’s not our job to carry the burden of ‘saving the world’; no one has the power to do that alone. But we have a responsibility to do what we can, within healthy boundaries for ourselves, and that is enough. The solutions are already out there. Now, it’s just about really getting down to it and making sustainability a priority in each of our lives!”
Charlotte Mei, host, presenter & accredited nutritionist
“Big corporations and individuals all have a part to play to work towards a more sustainable future. As individuals it’s important for us to be mindful and see everything we do as a vote for the future we want to see. For example, if we shop at the wet market, we’re voting to see wet markets continuing to exist. Don’t forget that as a consumer, your voice holds weight in affecting how businesses operate and drives demand for what you want to see more of.
Look at what parts of your everyday life have the most impact on the environment and start making changes there; those would be your lowest hanging fruits! If you purchase takeaway coffee or tea everyday from the coffee shop, start by bringing your own cup (many places offer discounts now!); in case you eat out often, bring your own cutlery to use if only disposable cutlery is provided; if you know you will be ordering food to-go, bring your own food container. Anyone can try to build a new habit to reduce your carbon footprint through these small actions.”
Audrey Yang, brand designer and social media activist
“I’m #Down4Earth in several ways, from changing to a lower impact lifestyle to my advocacy work. What keeps me grounded is the belief that what I practice is meaningful. The impact might be small today, but we don’t know about tomorrow.
As individuals, it’s common to feel powerless, or like any action is pointless because after all “I’m just one person”. But what if 1 billion individuals changed their mindset? You get a cultural shift. While a top-down approach is seen to be more powerful and can create significant impact, oftentimes those setting policies need to be ‘convinced’ that ‘society is ready for it’. Change is only meaningful if there’s genuine buy-in, so you can see how individual action can really drive systemic change. The two have to work in tandem and it is not about choosing to place responsibility in one or the other.
For brands, the perspective has to be cast wider; is what you’re creating environmentally-friendly, animal-friendly or people-friendly? The challenge is to start, so just pick one. It’s the same with businesses and individuals; there needs to be an entry point before anything more significant can be done.”
Joanna Chuah, founder of Weird & Wonderful Edibles
“I’m #Down4Earth this World Environment Day because I grow enough vegetables to sustain myself for a year and support wildlife ecosystems whilst at it! Being #Down4Earth can come in many shapes and forms. Individuals and brands can be more mindful of the products they use or create, and look towards more recycling and repurposing of materials.”
Qiyun Woo, creator for climate action
“I’m #Down4Earth through my efforts to continue with communicating climate issues in new interesting and accessible ways; to live a more low-impact lifestyle and to constantly support and work collaboratively with other like-minded folks in this space to push for meaningful climate action.
For other individuals who care about the planet, let’s connect and get down to business to do things together! For brands that truly believe in the need for climate action (and not in greenwashing) I hope they can support small businesses and activists that are doing the good work.”
Jasmine Tuan, zero-waste evangelist and founder of Cloop
“Albert Einstein once said, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results’. I believe in the power of the ripple effect, and that we need more people doing zero waste with love to create a positive ripple effect. This World Environment Day, I’m hopeful that Singapore’s Green Plan 2030 will propel us towards truly being a zero waste nation. Since we’re such a tiny dot on the world map, its easier to adopt green habits collectively. We also need more good role models to encourage others to do the same. After all, we only have one planet that we call home.”
#Down4Earth is a social campaign by ZERRIN, released on World Environment Day 2021. All individuals featured wear a mix of ethical brands, secondhand or swapped clothing. Photography, styling and production by ZERRIN STUDIO.
Susannah is a fan of prints, sunshine and dogs. The founder of ZERRIN, she's passionate about making sustainable style accessible, inclusive and empowering for all.