What does it take to live more sustainably at home? Homeowners Lingyi and Marvin tell us all about their personal journey and share easy tips we can try.
17 May 2021
Interview by Janice Seow
Images courtesy of @ourseaofgreen
Lingyi and Marvin, who work in advertising, started their Instagram account @ourseaofgreen in 2019 to document the renovation and design of their Telok Blangah flat. Since then, the account has morphed into a visual log of their journey to live more sustainably, with inspirational tips and ideas that are practical as they are easy to try at home.
We chat with them to find out just what it’s really like to live green, every day.
We started our Instagram account shortly after we moved in. In the beginning, it was just a creative outlet for us to share more about the aesthetic decisions we made for our home. However, as we went along, we realised that there were not many local sources promoting greener ways of home living. It was something that we had always been doing and thinking about, thus we decided to share our thought process and hopefully inspire others with our choices. It also forced us to be more accountable for the decisions that we make.
We had no expectations when we began documenting this journey but along the way, it has given us many opportunities to meet like-minded peers and brands that inspire us!
Our brief was quite detailed. We had references for every room – colour preferences and materials that we liked. We were also quite clear about wanting a mid-century theme from the start, as we are fans of vintage interiors in ‘60s films and TV shows like Mad Men. What Mikael helped us with was the space planning. We sourced for all of the furniture as we had a good sense of what we liked.
#1 We love sourcing for second hand pieces of furniture on Carousell, since they are usually more unique. It was an interesting experience buying from Carousell sellers as it gave us a chance to glimpse into other homes when we pick up the pieces, and speak to sellers about what the pieces meant to them. For example, we picked up a coffee table from a seller who collected vintage memorabilia, and he showed us some pieces from his vintage ad poster collection after we mentioned that we worked in advertising.
#2 As much as possible, we try to replace frequently used items in our household with more sustainable options. This means opting for a wooden brush rather than a sponge for our dishes, or bar soaps instead of new bottles of hand wash. We are recently experimenting with buying things in bulk, such as a big bottle of dishwashing liquid, so we don’t have to replace the product as frequently.
#3 When grocery shopping, it’s not always easy to make sustainable choices since many items in the store are already prepacked in plastic. We try to make a conscious choice to buy less plastic, so this means choosing eggs packed in a paper container or oil in a glass bottle rather than their plastic counterparts.
#4 Composting has become a staple part of our household, since it helps us cut down on our waste contribution and gives our plants a boost. Whenever we cook, we make it a point to store all the veggie scraps in the freezer, which we throw into the compost bin when we start a new batch of compost. It takes some effort and sometimes doesn’t smell that great for sure, but it’s the least we can do in this race against climate change.
#5 Buying locally also contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s been heartening to see that there are more local brands and makers popping up in the local interior scene, giving us more options to choose from. We’re not just avoiding the environment footprint of individual international delivery, but also supporting a local ecosystem that encourages creativity and business savvy.
It’s not easy to be conscious all the time, and we admit we’ve had our fair share of lapses when convenience was the priority. It’s important not to beat yourself up over being an imperfect environmentalist (thanks @theweirdandwild for the term!) as a little effort goes further than you may think. For example, I make the effort to bring containers to the office for my dapao (takeaway) lunch, and starting conversations with my colleagues about my choices has slowly also encouraged them to start thinking about their choices as well.
Buying sustainably (and locally) is definitely much better than buying disposable items, but it doesn’t mean that one should buy such items excessively as well. The most effective way to be sustainable is to refrain from buying and making your existing items last as long as possible.
Being sustainable doesn’t mean you have to be vegan and anti-capitalist. Start small by making conscious choices that fit your lifestyle and needs.
We love the greenery surrounding our home – it is a privilege to live next to a forest in the middle of a city state like Singapore, and it has inspired us immensely. Clearly, we’ve been inspired to bring more of that green into our home, even though we haven’t had our own plants before this. We also take more nature walks since there are so many parks and trails within walking distance from our home.
Want other ideas to live more sustainably? Follow Lingyi and Marvin’s journey on @ourseaofgreen
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