Written by Diyana Jailani/ 7th January 2021
For the majority of us, a new year signals a new beginning. Almost as if one can sweep the slate clean and start afresh, clear of all the mistakes and fallbacks we’d had to suffer through prior. But from the get-go, I told myself to think no such thing. January 1st is the start of a new calendar year and quite obviously, holds no special meaning to me.
If you know me personally, you’d know that I have gone in and out of therapy and counselling for quite some time. Prior to working at Urban Salvation as a writer and content creator, I worked a 9-5 government job that was financially rewarding yet burdensome… to my spirit to say the least. I worked in an environment that encouraged mass consumption of online media, retail therapy and office politics. It was a high-stress environment that demanded one to flow with the status quo.
Soon enough, I developed ED (eating disorder) and became severely underweight.
I’ll spare you the gnarly details, but from a scale of 1 to 10, my health deteriorated to the point that I fainted at work. I’ve never had the flexibility of turning over a new leaf on new years’ day, so to speak. Nonetheless, I told myself whatever major change I had to make to develop a happier, healthier lifestyle, I’d do it. No matter whether it meant working out in the kitchen past midnight or timing my meals with an alarm clock. I was determined to do right by me.
Urban Salvation has played a significant role in my life; my work allows me to learn and accumulate knowledge and experiences every day, and meet people I would have otherwise never crossed paths with. Take for example, the interviews I did in 2021. I had the chance to speak to U.S’s only female woodworker in its long 7 year history, and met the lovely couple at Ceramic House who are quite literally a treasure trove of wonderful experiences throughout their pottery-making journey.
I’ve learnt the importance of prioritizing my own moral compass in the career path I choose for myself.
A sustainable life is definitely the life I choose for me.
It is not a matter of being frugal or wanting to become more environmentally cautious for the sake of it. It genuinely sparks joy in me when I am able to explain the nature of reclaimed teak that Urban Salvation uses in our furniture.
Adopting a sustainable lifestyle also means to be considerate of the life cycle of everything around us. Reclaimed wood in this context is material that has been taken down from old floorboards and refurbished to make, for instance our statement dining tables.
Being sustainable is opting to make my own meals and pack them for lunch instead of dining out, reducing possible food wastage and of course, using up all the groceries that I have in the fridge. It means travelling less by taxi and taking public transport. It means showing customers my personal wooden teak coasters that I very much love and adore. It means indulging in retail therapy less, and considering vintage fashion a try. Yet, more often than not I feel that I am stuck in an echo-chamber, preaching to the choir. And I know that I am not alone in feeling this way.
I’ve read through multiple personal accounts of local Singaporean activists who now experience such a thing as eco-guilt.
These are described as moments when they forgot their reusable bottles or purchase fast-food meals in plastic wrap at a convenience store. They fail to inspire their peers in building sustainable habits, deemed as being ‘woke’ and naggy. And to that, I say, it still is not difficult to switch to a sustainable lifestyle.
Your encounters with plastic packaging in an ART test kit are inevitable. They are as inevitable as disposable masks littered in the streets dried with mud. As inevitable as a meal you can’t quite finish because there was too much salt. The need to buy new shoes at the closest retail store because your heels snapped into two.
Living a sustainable life does not mean purchasing $30 socks made with hemp fiber and , with a big red label “Sustainable materials-approved” across its paper packaging. At the bottom of it all, it boils down to the choices you make when the circumstances allow for you to.