Seeing Green in Singapore – A Guide to Eco-Living in the City State

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These solar “supertrees” are part of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay

Editors Note:  The following is a guest post from Ruth Harrison-Roberts.

If you’re someone who prefers to live life in an eco-friendly way, you may be wondering how exactly you’ll manage it in Singapore. The city-state is, after all, a very built-up place, with a dense population, busy roads and high-rise buildings dominating the skyline.

However, it was in fact designed as a garden city! You would never consider grouping it in with Letchworth and Welwyn in the UK, but the premise remains the same: soften the urban sprawl by planting trees along the highways and byways and creating parklands. And, this is one of the first things that people tend to notice when they visit Singapore – just how green it looks.

Being eco-friendly in Singapore is not actually as hard as you may think, though. This guide shows you how to live sustainably in the Lion City, focusing on everyday aspects of life such as accommodation, eating, shopping and more.

Accommodation

Sustainable living just got easier with the development of the Punggol Eco Village. At first glance, it’s a fairly uninspiring looking public housing block, but it has been carefully planned, with every detail being assessed on its environmental impact. This includes positioning the development away from the sun so it doesn’t heat up too much, and placing a garden on the roof to lower the temperature of the building. With these eco-friendly measures in place, all you need to worry about is putting your recycling in the correct bin.

Singapore's Park Royal on Pickering, photo by WOHA21

Singapore’s Park Royal on Pickering, photo by WOHA21

Shopping and Eating Out

Make sure you head for a quick bite to eat at the City Square Mall at the junction of Serangoon and Kitchener Road. This is the only eco-friendly mall in Singapore, which is doing as much as it can to utilise sustainable energy and reduce waste. Fair Price opened up its first eco-friendly supermarket here, and works on the ethics of “reduce, reuse, and recycle”. Provisions such as a dedicated checkout for those who bring their own shopping bags, 100% biodegradable plastic bags, and a reverse vending machine for bottles and cans, are all in place.

Sightseeing

Eco tourist attractions such as the Supertrees are an incredible sight to behold, especially when they are lit up at night. This may not seem particularly environmentally friendly, but it does have its merits. The outside of the poles are actually a “living skin” comprising over 162,900 live plants of more than 200 species and varieties, while the poles themselves also contain photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy.

You can also take a tour around Sentosa Island on the eco-friendly Gogreen hybrid cycles (available in children’s sizes as well). There are also several nature reserves to visit, including the Botanic Gardens, Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve and Pulau Ubin.

Singapore's City Square mall

Getting Around

If you must travel around by car, there’s a way to do it without adding to the growing emissions in the air. The city has subsidies in place for those who use environmentally friendly cars in which to get around, and there are also Greenslots, a network of power stations for cars to plug into and recharge.

Public transport is also changing. There are hybrid buses that run on a combination of diesel and battery power, while Woodlands MRT station is the first eco-friendly train stop, utilizing energy-efficient escalators and lifts, and even sustainable water management in its bathroom facilities.

However, what better way is there to take in the sights than by bike? Bike thefts are pretty much unheard of and as it’s such an easy and cost-effective way to reach your destination, cycling is not only convenient but also an easy way to keep fit.

Visiting

Visitors wishing to travel sustainably should check into the Park Royal on Pickering or the Siloso Beach Resort, both of which have impressive green credentials and a strong focus on water conservation and energy efficiency. A number of airlines also offer reduced carbon emissions; for example, Singapore Airlines has signed up to the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, and is implementing a number of green initiatives in its policies.

Overall, despite many people’s preconceptions of Singapore as a dense urban sprawl and its history of rapid development, the city-state is actually setting an example as a leader in environmentally friendly living.

Ruth Harrison Roberts is a fashion and lifestyle writer in London.  She runs The Oxygen Thief – a blog supporting emerging fashion, design and musical talent.

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