Q&A with The Eco Expats
How has COVID-19 had an impact on your involvement in environmental initiatives?
It’s certainly had a big impact in terms of physically being with the conscious community here in Singapore, like attending events or volunteering at beach cleans, but we’ve tried to make a bigger effort in terms of the online community; promoting and supporting local businesses, making donations and generally trying to keep the spirits high with our audience. We have softened some of our usual dogma like ‘make sure you take your reusable coffee cup!’ because this is no longer an easy or accessible option as lots of coffee shops are no longer accepting reusables. Nor are we inclined to make people feel any kind of guilt for using a single-use protective face mask when they are obviously such a necessity and here it is the law that everyone must wear one.
It feels like there is just so much going on right now that is out of our control, so we’re trying to focus on the things we can control – and a big one of these is the food we are eating. We are both vegetarians but concentrating on learning a few more vegan recipes and going majority plant-based, is making us feel like we can still contribute positively whilst all of this is going on! Plus cooking and baking is fun and we’ve even been dropping some off with friends as a little pick me up.
Ultimately, we think it’s okay to give ourselves a little bit of slack right now; definitely we are encouraging people to try to be as sustainable as is within their means but right now we think it’s good enough to just take care of our mental and physical health, make sure we’re eating well, exercising, chatting to friends, eating some cake if we want it, and having that glass of wine on a Monday if you feel like it. What even are days anyway at this point?
Do you think COVID-19 will be a catalyst for environmental change or do you think it will hinder brands’ sustainability commitments?
We are at a crucial moment in history whereby businesses, big corporations and individuals are suddenly forced to pause for a second and we are finally seeing the, though minor, positive changes that so far this pandemic is having on the planet. Whole populations are realising what life is like without being able to buy anything anytime; or are seeing that there are real joys to be found in staying at home with family rather than jetting off around the world at every chance they get; even in Singapore you must take tupperware to the hawker centres if you want to buy food there – this was a pretty rare sight before all of this. If we can keep these behaviours throughout Covid19 and way beyond into the future, then we will see the demand rise for businesses to be acting more consciously and consumer goods moving more circularly – so we are very hopeful that we’ll be seeing some great changes in the years to come.
What is your favourite example of a brand doing amazing things for the environment and why?
Scoop Wholefoods and other bulk grocery stores are incredible – you come out of the store with no packaging, with only the amount that you need and from an organic source that you know you can trust. Shopping zero waste is something we have been doing for almost a year now, and it has completely changed our buying habits and how we think about how we shop.
What criteria do you apply when choosing your commercial partner?
Given the nature of our page, we appreciate it when brands are super transparent with us in terms of their ethos, where their products come from, how they are made, their factories and everything in between so that we can make a decision as to whether we think they align well with our own values.
How has COVID-19 prompted you to get creative and think outside the box?
Well! We have started to create some video-podcast type formats with some incredible eco-entrepreneurs as a way to keep the community feeling connected and to, ultimately, keep going with our mission statement which is to always be learning how to not be such arseholes to the planet! We are still very much on our journey and have so much to learn, so being able to connect with some truly talented, smart people is incredible.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do once the lockdown is over?
Hug each of our friends for a minimum of 10 minutes each (or until it gets weird) and just tell everyone how much they mean to us. And book flights home to the UK. At a time like this, it’s really made us realise how important family is, and how far away we are.