Challenge, Creation Care, Issue 38

Take The 3 ‘R’s Challenge

Take The 3 ‘R’s Challenge

CHALLENGE RULES

For 3 weeks, practice the 3Rs intentionally. These are your guidelines:

Reduce: Reduce consumption of resources by not shopping for 3 weeks for non-essential items.

Reuse: Eliminate single-use plastics by using reusable items. Find a way to reuse any waste before deciding to throw or recycle them.

Recycle: Recycle every piece of waste accumulated by you in these 3 weeks.

Challenger: SECK LI-LYN, 20

3 Fun Facts:

1. I am 1.74m tall
2. I cannot speak Chinese
3. I love coffee

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Nonchalance is the biggest factor that prevents me from being eco-friendly. Usually, I don’t care about practicing the 3Rs in my daily life, so I think this challenge would make me more aware of my carbon footprint. I currently stay on campus in University and it is easier to choose convenience. I wonder whether this will prove to be a deterrence in this challenge. We’ll see!

THE CHALLENGE

Week 1

8 Jan: The challenge starts today! I think I’ve prepared myself quite well — I’ve got my reusable bags, reusable cutlery, and tumblers. I decided to dine in today instead of taking out. I realised that just this decision alone saved me so much trash — the plastic bag, the plastic box, and the plastic cup.

11 Jan: I went to Kinokuniya today. When I was at the cashier, I declined a plastic bag and placed the book into my tote bag instead. However, I realised that the book was wrapped in a thin layer of plastic for protection so I guess some plastic waste is inevitable. I decided to get okonomiyaki for lunch but realised too late that it was encased in a styrofoam box. Oh well, I will make a mental note for future purchases.

12 Jan: My weekend tradition with my sister is buying bubble tea. It is only today that I realised that we have been mindlessly drinking out of a plastic cup with a plastic straw. I love bubble tea so much that it will be hard to stop drinking it suddenly. The other option would be to use my tumbler. However, I am quite shy by nature. I am afraid my request will cause inconvenience if there is a long queue behind me. I wish that bringing one’s tumbler was more of a norm, so I wouldn’t have to feel shy about this.

13 Jan: Today I managed to recycle 3 plastic bottles, 4 takeaway boxes, and 2 glass bottles from my hostel room. The process of cleaning my room definitely opened my eyes to the extra effort needed to live a sustainable lifestyle. I went shopping today because I figured cooking will help me to save trash as compared to buying take-out meals. I was wrong. Every grocery item I bought was all covered in plastic! If I focus on the amount of waste generated in the production line-up of many everyday items, it amounts to a lot of hidden waste (used by separate items in the production chain). This after-thought made me feel quite dejected; my actions seemed insignificant in comparison to the large amount of waste unknowingly produced daily. But I shall just do what I can!

Week 2

15 Jan:
I used my tumbler when I purchased iced milo today. I confess: I dislike washing my tumbler when I am comfortable in bed and have to make a trip to the kitchen. Tossing away a plastic cup will be much more convenient. However, I know that convenience comes at a cost.

16 Jan: I have some friends coming over to my dorm room tonight which means I will be switching on the aircon today. In my attempt to be eco-friendly, I set it to 25 degree Celcius, which is the optimal temperature for being sustainable!

19 Jan: After drinking out of some glass bottles, I decided to upcycle them into flower jars to decorate my room. I bought some dried lilacs for the glass bottles to match with the overall purple aesthetic of my room.

21 Jan: Today was spent rushing to prepare for a school event the next day. All of my friends were using Grabfood delivery to save time. At first, I was hesitant, but I caved in. While the amount of waste was minimal on my end (my meal set had minimal packaging), the peer pressure and the need to maximise time really got to me!

Week 3

22 Jan: The school event was today. Being on the organising team, I wanted to reduce waste but it was pretty impossible. When I saw the massive amount of waste at the end of the day from the food stalls present, I was in shock! Before this challenge, I wouldn’t have thought twice about how much waste such events produce. But being more eco-friendly intentionally has certainly made me more aware of waste accumulation.

25 Jan: I lost my tumbler! It was devastating. I had become attached to it over the course of this challenge. How was I going to get my much-needed coffee in the morning? I decided to buy fewer drinks during the day, and drink from my water bottle instead. I typically don’t like drinking water but this alternative was surprisingly easier than I thought!

26 Jan: This challenge has honestly not been easy. I dislike washing every container that I have used. I dislike having to save my trash till I see the nearest recycling bin. Today, after training, my teammates and I wanted to eat at one of the canteens in the University hall. However, the cold drinks sold were already pre-packaged, so I could not use my new tumbler. In the end, I bought a hot tea to takeaway in my tumbler instead. I would have preferred a cold drink after a gruelling training session but there was no other option available. Sigh.

27 Jan: My impulse online shopping spree on Shopee has come back to bite me. I forgot that items get delivered in multiple layers of plastic. When I was making my online purchases, I was attracted by the flashing signs of “SHOPEE CNY MASSIVE SALE”, “10% CASHBACK” and “FREE SHIPPING”. Honestly, I confess that I cared more about the amount of money I could save from the sale rather than the plastic that came along with my purchases.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It was easy to maintain a sustainable lifestyle over the first few days but proved a challenge when I needed to do it over a prolonged period of time. I felt that there were 2 main problems that hindered me from reducing my carbon footprint:

Convenience: I realised how much I relied on take-outs. In University, I often feel like I am in a rush. Taking time to wash, dry, and pack utensils daily slowly became a tiring chore since time is precious.

Peer pressure: I found it difficult to be eco-friendly when my friends are not. I felt bad whenever I needed to wash my utensils while all my friends waited for me.

In spite of these, cultivating a sustainable lifestyle is not entirely impossible. There were some daily choices that were manageable such as bringing my tumbler when I purchased drinks and bringing a tote bag wherever I go as a substitute for plastic bags. I hope that I can continue these new habits even though the challenge has ended and still do my small part to care for creation.

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