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Meet The 5 Women In Singapore Championing Sustainability Through Music, Films and Festivals

They’re cool, creative, fashionable – and are making a statement about sustainable living in their own way.

The fashion insider-turned-zero waste champ: Jasmine Tuan

Who she is: Fashion and events folks here will have no problem ID-ing this 39-year-old – former designer, progressive proponent of independent designers with her now-defunct concept store Blackmarket, and It girl in the local clubbing scene during the late aughts. A brand consultant these days, she’s still involved in high-profile events like the Singapore edition of the annual Diner en Blanc, but she’s equally — if not more committed to — being a vocal force for #zerowaste.

Green efforts: Think of the growing movement as the next step up from recycling, with advocates taking a pre-emptive, preventive approach to waste management, generating as little trash as possible, and making sure that every purchase — if any — counts. Tuan says that she’s stopped shopping for new fashion items — her goal is to be able to fit her wardrobe in a 7kg duffel bag. She refuses all forms of plastic packaging (that also means saying no to plastic bottled water) and brings her own reusables — containers, cutlery, straws — wherever she goes. Last December, she helped organise the first Zero Waste festival in Kuala Lumpur, where she’s been based since 2015.

Her take on sustainability: Tuan says that every individual can do his or her part: “I know my power as a consumer, so I only support businesses that are good for us and the planet. After all, there isn’t a planet B for us to turn to.”


The voice for fighting climate change: Inch Chua

Who she is: Not so fun fact: If all the ice in Antarctica alone were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by reportedly more than a metre — and Singapore (being a low-lying island) is squarely in the crosshairs. Trump might not buy it, but this petite indie-pop singer-songwriter certainly does.

Green efforts: In February, she made headlines by travelling to the icy continent as part of an expedition with 2041, an NGO that aims to find solutions to protect the land and renew the Antarctic Treaty, which will be up for review in said year. Since returning in March, the 29-year-old has distilled her singular experience there into an intimate, one-night-only show — appropriately titled No Man’s Land — at Theatreworks in May. The hour-long set of new tunes inspired by the trip is her way of engaging what she says is a largely disenchanted crowd on environmental issues. Beyond its debut staging, No Man’s Land is in fact a collaborative work-in-progress with the veteran theatre company, and a full show (Chua bills it as an “anti-musical”) will be executed next May — also when her next album will drop.

Her take on sustainability: “New policies, scientific discoveries for green technologies, or the everyday fight (to be eco-minded, despite perceived inconveniences) cannot come to be if people lose hope in the ability to change our future. That’s where the arts can come in.”


The model rebel with a cause: Liv Lo

Who she is: TV presenter, fitness model, yoga instructor. Now add eco-advocate to the 32-year-old’s list of titles, in part thanks to Before The Flood (2016), the Leonardo DiCaprio-backed documentary on climate change. Watching the moving film was a turning point for her, she says, and she became an ambassador for Green Is The New Black, Singapore’s first Conscious Festival, that same year.

Green efforts: This June, she went a step further and started a petition urging Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, to reconsider her stance on implementing a small levy on plastic bag usage. (Khor had announced in her ministry’s budget in March that “imposing a charge or ban on disposable plastic bags and substituting them with other types of disposable bags is unlikely to improve environmental outcomes”.) The number of signatories Lo got: 13,000. (Plastic bag levies have in fact proven to be effective in countries as diverse as Ireland, Denmark, Britain and closer to home, Hong Kong and Taiwan, with usage dropping by more than 85 per cent in Britain with a five pence – or S$0.09 – levy.)

Her take on sustainability: “Simply hold on to your trash for one day instead of throwing it out. You’d be amazed by how much trash one person generates — and that’s just over the course of a day. People have this out of sight, out of mind mentality. They assume once it’s down the chute, it automatically disappears.” Dr Khor? Your move.

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