The reason the Great Singapore Workout never got taken seriously, other than the fact it looks ridiculous, is that Singapore already has a national sport—shopping. Think running a marathon is hard? Try walking through 42km worth of shopping mall floors or staying up to cart out your favourite item during some online flash sale.
But even as Singaporeans spend their money with gleeful abandon, few stop to think about the larger impact of their actions on the world at large. To most, your money just goes to some corporation that gets a bit richer. Fewer people worry about the effect of rabid consumerism on the environment and on the underprivileged communities in which these products are often produced.
The next time you’re looking for a gift for a friend’s birthday, a treat for your kids or a little something for yourself, instead of hitting up the usual big chain stores, take a peek at these four retailers in Singapore, where you can be sure your money is going to a good cause.
Cat Mama Shop by the Cat Welfare Society
Do you often catch yourself ogling at cat adoption pages or going down an endless rabbit hole of cat videos on YouTube?
We have no idea where they’re sourcing for their products, but they sure are adorable. From animal-themed apparel and homeware to toys for your own furry companion, just about every product on the site is positively aww-eliciting.
These products make great gifts for anyone in your life who likes cute stuff, and best of all when you spend your money on the site you know that you’re helping the Cat Welfare Society continue to save feline lives.
Online shop: catwelfare.store
Here’s another cute social enterprise that supports an animal cause. BellyFlop is a project started out by Dayre personality Esther. You can buy cute embroidered T-shirts and the profits will be donated to dog shelters to help rescue animals in Singapore.
The designs are a tribute to her dogs and you will find that each illustration has unique features of each dog.
Online shop: bellyflopdogs.com
Constantly scouting out good deals from online book shops? Actually, one good place to get books and do good at the same time is Dignity Mama. The project receives donations of books, which are then resold at 4 stalls at different hospitals. Their stalls are staffed with people with special needs.
Each book at the store costs between 50 cents and $20 depending on the condition of the book. Not only are you promoting the circular economy by not buying, you can also help support the business.
If you have any books that you don’t need, you can also donate to them. Do call ahead before you go to the stalls to drop the books off.
Address: National University Hospital, 1 Lower Kent Ridge Road #01-39 One @ Kent Ridge Singapore 119082
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 11am to 7pm
Address: Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, 90 Yishun Central Singapore 768828
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to 1.30pm
New2U Thrift Shop
Think digging through piles of pre-loved clothes in search of that one elusive vintage gem is more exciting than buying an off-the-rack item at a chain store that’s probably been made in some sweatshop in Bangladesh?
Then welcome to the New2U Thrift Shop, where you can pick up pre-loved clothing items for a few bucks apiece. They’re run by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations and entirely staffed by volunteers. The shop is open from 10:30am to 2:30pm on Mondays to Fridays, and 11am to 2pm on the last Sunday of the month (or the Sunday before that if it’s a public holiday).
By shopping at New2U, you’re helping to support Star Shelter, which serves as a refuge for women and children who are victims of family violence, as well as the SCWO’s other initiatives. Buying and wearing second hand clothing also cuts down on the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills.
Address: 96 Waterloo Street
Singapore is shedding its stodgy, uptight image with hip reinterpretations of local symbols, thanks to local designers and labels such as those featured on Naiise.
But unbeknownst to many, our local National Heritage Board-run museums are great places to pick up unique and, yes, chic gifts, while also helping to support the NHB and its heritage-related initiatives.
The NHB now has their very own brand, called Museum Label, whose products are available at the gifts shops at the National Museum of Singapore, Asian Civilisations Museum, Malay Heritage Centre and Indian Heritage Centre.
Some of their offerings include quirky hipster key rings featuring local staples like nasi lemak and chicken rice and that famous kancheong spider watch you might have spotted on someone’s wrist.
When you buy these products, you’re contributing to the coffers of the National Heritage Board, which is a stat board that tries to develop the culture and heritage of Singapore. Shopping at their stores is probably better than handing your money over to H&M or Uniqlo.
Do good while you shop at Minds Shop. ‘Minds’ stand for Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore and these shops are where the organisation provide pre-vocational retail and customer service training. The store is neatly organised into different sections: fashion, accessories, home decor items, large furniture and so on. Minds also accept donate from the public.
Address: 71 Redhill Road #01-29 Singapore 150071
Opening hours: Tues to Sunday, 9am to 6pm
This is for the Bohemian gypsies out there. This shop retails woven yoga fitness belts, sack bag, laptop sleeves and tote and backpacks, as well as bangles created by up-cycled tyres.
They have collections that support different international causes too, such as giving jobs to women in Nepal and funding children’s education in Indonesia, Thailand and Nepal.
Online shop: shoppurnama.com
Do you know of any other organisations running retail stores for a good cause? Share them in the comments!
Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash