Living sustainably: Sacrifices, extra costs, and other truths about being an eco-warrior today

Living sustainably: Sacrifices, extra costs, and other truths about being an eco-warrior today

Tree hugger

Text: Janice Sim

Like it or not, we're living on the cusp of change. The time where people make the switch from dairy to nut milk, meat to soy, and plastic to metal. On the news and headlines, groundbreaking testimonies of new-gen activists and start-ups with a passion worth fighting for pour through on a daily basis. It's a precarious time where our consciences are tested and social pressures are heightened. Even if you didn't care about the future of what our world would be like, you might be guilt-tripped into declining a straw just because all your friends are doing so. Of course, it also helps that wearing sustainable from head to toe ups your cool factor in today's day and age.

But let's just say it takes more than lugging around a reusable coffee mug to declare yourself fully sustainable. Standing with the notion is easy, it's remaining consistent that's tricky. To test the waters, I made the effort to live sustainably for a week and here are my findings.

There will be extra costs at the very beginning

Everyone needs a sustainable starter pack: A set of reusable food carriers, a classic mug, a sleeve of metal straws, chopsticks, utensils, and last but not least, tote bags to lug around your groceries. That could set you back to about an amount shy of $100 — that is if you're particular about which brands on the market are trending at the moment or rather how the products look. The thing is, sticking to the routine of actually using these tools might be easier once you've actually spent the money. I found it more effective than conveniently forgetting that I had a set of wooden utensils gifted to me a while ago. And as expected, that was stashed somewhere in a dusty drawer.

Top picks:

Sttoke coffee cup
Porter bowls (available at The Paper Bunny)
Your Sustainable Store travel bamboo cutlery pouch
Unpackt metal straws

Sttoke coffee

You might require a lunch bag

Going out with these additional items can be a handful. Especially when you're intending to make a quick run to the neighborhood eatery for a lunch takeaway. So yes, a lightweight over-the-shoulder tote might be in order. One that you can store your food and look discernibly cute enough, rather than a tacky cushioned pouch from Naraya. It takes that extra bit of determination and willingness to do all that.

Baggu eco-friendly

You'll find yourself washing — all the time.

I preferred browsing metal straws online better than this. This was definitely the part where most people falter and call it a day on their short-lived plan for sustainability. It will test your limits to how far you will go with this noble routine. You need to wash all the tools, preferably as soon as you finish your meal, including the straw, which should come with its own brush. All in all, about five to ten minutes to fork out at the sink.

Somehow you will also find yourself spending less, or not.

At the end of the day, your shopping purchases are implicated as well. That means, making conscious decisions on what's in your shopping cart. Which can mean wiping out almost 95% of the fast-fashion brands that you usually shop at. That includes your outfits and your beauty products. Safe to say, I didn't shop in a week. But if I had to, these are the brands that are on my shortlist.

Tove and Libra
Esse the Label
Dr. Roebucks

To answer that question: Yes anything sustainably made will be more expensive than its equivalent. Precisely why fast-fashion is still a booming business.

Tove and Libra

You will be favoured and judged at the same time

In line with all that, you basically decline any option of single-use plastic thrown at you with every purchase. You'll also realise how readily these things are offered whether it be at convenience stores or hawker centers, so much so that you feel that they are actually shoving plastic down your throats. But once you refuse those things, you see a glimmer of surprise in their eyes, followed by a slight nod and smile. The reactions certainly make the journey worth it, but even if there's a lack of it, walk away knowing that you have done well, and perhaps have demonstrated the act to someone who's witnessing the exchange. Having said that, on the other side of the coin, you might get teased a lot for it with your friends who believe in the philosophy of YOLO, not so much making a difference. Just saying because that definitely happened at my expense.

For more tips on how to go plastic-free, click here.