Opinion

3 Ways Singapore is Surprisingly Becoming Greener, and How This is Helping People Save Money

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Joanne Poh

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Singapore is the last country on earth where you would expect anyone to care about the environment. People obsessively replace their phones, their cars and their wardrobes, luxury condos leave their lights on and fancy water features pumping all night long, and nobody knows how or can be bothered to use those recycling bins you occasionally see in public places.

But now that the government is trying to turn Singapore into a cycling-friendly city, we’ve noticed that this place is, whether intentionally or not, becoming greener in some ways. And one great thing about this, even to the most hardened heart, is that being greener often means spending less, at least for individuals who adopt practices that are better for the environment (most local companies, on the other hand, still don’t give a toss). Here are some ways this is happening in Singapore right now.

 

Cycling is becoming a legit mode of transport

Personally, I cannot wait for the day when the entire island is connected by cycling paths, hot weather notwithstanding.

For those who can’t afford cars, it’s nice to know there are alternatives, especially when cycling at least part of the way can seriously reduce your overall travelling time (hands up all of those long-suffering people who need to rely on feeder buses to get to the MRT station).

Best of all, cycling is free after you make the initial bicycle purchase and keeps you fit too, so you can get rid of that gym membership you never had the time to use anyway. And assuming you don’t get crushed to death under some reckless driver’s vehicle, the exercise might be able to improve your health (no more doctors’ visits!) and all that good stuff.

The government has been trying improve the bike-friendliness of the city, and there’s been a cycling boom in the country of late. If you’re one of those who’s been smart and plucky enough to make cycling a part of your daily commute, we’re sure you have a great tan.

 

There’s increased interest in growing your own food

While Singapore is the last place you’d think of gardening in, the activity has surprisingly taken off in recent years. Vertical urban gardening is becoming a viable solution for those who want to buy organic or homegrown vegetables.

But even more evident is the surge in interest amongst citizens in replacing some of their supermarket-bought vegetable consumption with greens and herbs grown in their HDB flats.

There have been numerous news reports about people growing vegetables on their balconies and flats. More and more new condo developments feature community gardens where people can exercise their green thumbs.

And more and more resources (like this!) and workshops catered to HDB gardeners are popping up all over the island.

If you actually manage to raise your plants without them dying on you, you’ll have a food source than can help you save on your grocery bill or keep your family alive in a zombie apocalypse.

 

More people prefer to shop online than offline

It’s official—nobody likes Orchard Road anymore. But that’s not because Singaporeans have given up shopping, oh no. It’s just that they’re now doing most of their shopping online.

And while the mall landlords might be crying themselves to sleep at night at the thought of all those empty units, there are some upsides to people doing more of their shopping online.

Okay, we’re sure most online shoppers care less about the environment than where to find that Zalora promo code. But studies have shown that in many circumstances, buying stuff online instead of patronising brick-and-mortar stores can lighten your carbon footprint.

From a cost point of view, when you buy online, you get to comparison shop like crazy since checking how much another shop is charging doesn’t involve swimming through a sea of aggressive taitais in the Wisma-Ngee Ann City tunnel. The prices of the exact same goods online are usually lower than what they cost in the stores, since in buying the latter you’re paying your share of the ridiculous rents landlords charge retailers.

You also don’t have to deal with the cost of transport, parking and an emergency meal because your shopping kaki is getting hangry.

Do you do any of the above? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.