Celebrating Earth Hour: The Little Things
If you haven’t heard, Earth Hour’s this coming Saturday 28 March from 8.30pm to 9.30pm (and Earth Day’s approaching on 22 April!). Every year during this time, people gather together to make a stand for the environment by switching their lights off for one hour. Just last year, Singapore hosted Earth Hour Lights Off with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, a good example to show that while climate change is a sombre topic, we can still have fun while doing our part!
To bring eco-consciousness into the limelight, we’ll be sharing information that you’ll be sure to find useful, be it small ways to be greener in your everyday life, or in support of larger social movements that do so.
For Cleaner Air
“The most important things for human beings are clean air and clean water.”
– Akira Kurosawa, Yume
The air we breathe in contains harmful air pollutants which can lead to health complications such as damage to the immune system, reproductive problems and even cancer. The risks are equally present indoors, which is why many use air purifiers at home. One thing that tends to be neglected though, is the kind of paint we use in our homes.
Harmful substances called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are released as paint dries, which then continue to emit low-level toxic emissions over the years. Imagine breathing all that stuff in as you dine, relax and sleep. And if you have a kid with asthma at home, you certainly won’t be glad to learn that paint fumes can trigger and worsen asthma attacks.
Luckily, there are eco-friendly paints on the market, such as Dulux PureAir, a low-VOC paint which neutralises VOCs during painting and continues to work in the background to absorb VOCs after it is applied. If you can’t stand the unpleasant smell of fresh paint, you’ll be pleased to know that this Singapore Green Label certified paint is also voted ‘most odourless’ by respondents in a Nielsen survey. With the ability to absorb and limit the amount of VOCs being released into the environment, that’s definitely something to consider when selecting paints for your home.
Image from Dulux
Nature Knows Best
And for families with the habit of burning candles, don’t add to the pollution by burning candles that aren’t environmentally friendly. There are a lot of eco-friendly alternatives that are better for both your health and the environment!
Try organic wax or beeswax, which have much smaller carbon footprints than the commonly used paraffin candles. Here’s a quick comparison table:
|Beeswax||Organic wax such as soy and palm wax||Paraffin wax|
Natural wax found in honeybee hives
Soy wax: Vegetable oil of soybeans
By-product of crude oil
When burnt, it…
Not only doesn’t pollute, it emits negative ions which help to cleanse the air of dust, odours and toxins in the air
Produces little to no soot
Produces cancer-causing toxins and chemical residue
Since beeswax candles are made from natural wax and even reduce air pollution indoors, the carbon footprint is close to nil—as long as the beeswax is ethically harvested. We sure wouldn’t want any bees to be harmed in the process!
Organic candles are more environmentally-friendly as they’re made from natural and renewable resources. However, some processing is involved to convert soy and palm oils into candle wax. It’s still a better option than paraffin though!
Paraffin wax has to be deodorized and chemically bleached when made into candles. And given that they emit carcinogens when lit, that’s a big no-no.
Image from Mount Sapola
And if you prefer that smell-good factor of scented candles, Mt Sapola beeswax candles are scented with 100% premium essential oils. We chatted with Mt Sapola and Barn & Potter founder, Ms Cheryl Gan, on doing our part for the environment.
“I believe in making our resources go the extra mile through reusing and recycling,” shares Cheryl.
“Apart from bringing my own shopping bags for grocery shopping, I make it a point to collect recyclable items at home. From glass bottles, plastic containers, to old newspapers and magazines, we will drop them off at recycling bins regularly. I am considering to implement a recycling initiative for Mt Sapola stores too, to likewise encourage our customers to adopt this habit.”
Making A Difference
What sort of light do you use at home? If you answered LED light, good on you! Currently the most energy-efficient light, LED lights consume 25-80% less electricity than fluorescent lights and last 20 times longer too.
We may not realise this, but many people in developing nations do not have access to the amenities we enjoy on a daily basis. IKEA supports sustainable energy use for everyone through its Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign. Held every year during February and March, the campaign aims to bring sustainable lighting and energy to families and children in refugee camps.
For every LED light bulb IKEA sells during the period of the campaign, the IKEA Foundation will donate €1 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to power refugee camps. The 2015 Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign is currently ongoing from Feb 1 to Mar 28.
Image from IKEA Foundation
We can make a positive change just by switching to environmentally-friendly alternatives. If we each do our part, imagine the snowball effect it can have for the planet. Remember, it’s the little things that count!