You might know by now that Tortoise the Label is all about reducing waste through circular design and recycling. This does not only apply to fashion! Sustainable and zero-waste living extends to all other products as well. We believe that it is always a good choice to reuse, repurpose or recycle the resources that we already own. There are certainly many things that can be given a second life and there are more ways to do so in Singapore than we thought.
Undoubtedly, many of us are familiar with the blue recycling bins near our homes, and e-waste bins we often see at shopping malls or public spaces. As part of the National Recycling Programme by the National Environment Agency (NEA), the blue bins collect most papers, glass, metals, and plastics. The e-waste bins, on the other hand, are a part of the Singapore E-Waste Collection & Recycling Program by ALBA E-waste. This programme allows you to recycle your mobile and electronic waste such as household appliances and batteries safely. Both are great ways to responsibly return your unwanted products back to the circular economy.
Blue Recycling Bins in Singapore. Image Credits: NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT AGENCY, SINGAPORE
Nevertheless, there are many other ways we can give our unwanted items a second life. Like Tortoise, other Singaporean brands have been doing their part to facilitate a circular economy. From recycling plastics to your clothes, there are actually numerous simple and innovative ways to recycle common household items in Singapore conveniently. Like Tortoise, many conscious businesses in Singapore are also offering recycling programmes to extend the life of the items you have!
Here are 10 less known and surprising ways that you can recycle the items you're likely to have at home -- all whilst supporting local businesses! #SupportLocal
As books are certainly made of paper, they are generally recyclable via the blue recycling bins. However, it is always better to reuse than recycle. After all, it's likely your books are still in a read-worthy condition, right? If they are indeed, consider rehoming them instead! A Million Books is a volunteer-run company that aims to close the loop by encouraging the adoption of used books. Simply donate 5 books at their showroom in person and get any 1 book of your choice for free!
Alternatively, Thryft sells donated books at low prices and 1% their profits are given to initiatives to support efforts in tackling urgent environmental issues. You can exchange your books for Thryft credits, so that you can make room for books that you have not read! They allow you to schedule a doorstep pick-up of your books at your convenience or self-drop-off at their book drop locations.
Many of us throw out plastics after use, such as shampoo bottles, old kitchenware, and disposable cups. However, some of these are recyclable! Have a closer look at your plastic products to find a triangular shaped recycling symbol with a number from 1 to 7. Plastic types 1, 2, 4 and 5 are curb side recyclable! That means they can be put into the blue bins for chemical recycling. If you're looking for a more fun way to recycle plastics though, bring plastic types 2 and 5 to The Plastic Project at 91 Lor Chencharu! They hold workshops to recycle plastic waste into reusable goods, whilst advocating for a progressive circular economy in Singapore. You'll get turn your plastic waste into usable products!
Alternatively, you can simply bring these plastic types 2 and 5 to their 24/7 collection point instead. They will use your waste to make products for sale. Do remember to remove any labels or sticker on the bottles before you drop them off!
Plastic Contact Lens Blisters
Apart from the common plastic recyclables, did you know that you can also recycle your contact lens containers? For something as small as contact lens blisters, it is common for us to overlook the compounding effects of not recycling such items. Fortunately, Two of A Kind’s Project 2x2 collects your used contact lens blisters to manufacture new products such as clothing fibres and food containers! This interesting project is the first of its kind in Singapore. Simply mail it to them or drop them off at various advocate locations here.
If you shop online at all, you'll be familiar with the common ecommerce packaging that most businesses use. From polymailers, to bubble wrap and carton boxes, these are all commonly used packaging items to protect your orders during transit. According to NEA, packaging makes up one-third of Singapore's domestic waste! While Tortoise has created our own reusable dual-purpose packaging, not all businesses have had the opportunity to change up their packaging yet. Fortunately, Package Pals is a circular packaging initiative that provides second-hand packaging to local businesses. They aim to reduce the usage of brand-new packaging and promote zero waste by collecting second-hand packaging across the country. Simply drop off your used packaging at Our Tampines Hub or arrange for a meet up or drop-off point at different locations by filling up their form here. Your efforts to reduce packaging waste has the potential to go a long way!
If you happen to be one that'll lose track of one earring and not know what to do with the other side, or simply have some jewellery that you no longer use, here's a suggestion! ThreeOneTwoFive is a local jewellery store that runs a jewellery recycling programme. For this ongoing initiative, they adopt stainless steel and sterling silver jewellery to be dismantled and sorted into their respective materials for reuse. You can simply drop off your used jewellery at their store or mail it to them.
Although this does not directly support a local business, we just had to include Old Shoe New Future in this list because it directly benefits our local communities! Old Shoe New Future This programme is a circular economy project by MyActiveSG which recycles used sports shoes into materials that can be used for jogging tracks, fitness corners and playgrounds! These used sports shoes are turned into rubber granules to create sports surfaces. This initiative is now a permanent collect-for-waste stream in Singapore, aiming to divert at least 170,000 pairs of sports shoes and school shoes away from our landfill per annum. All rubberised shoes without metal parts are accepted! Simply drop them off at their various collection points.
Used candle jars are one of the few things we can tend to quickly accumulate. It always seems like a pity to toss them out; and recycling them in the blue recycling bins often don't seem like a plausible option because there's still wax in the jars.
Though it might not seem easy, there are simple ways to remove wax from the candle jars! Hush Candle is created infographics to help you out with that. On top of that, they run a Refill & Recycle Programme where you can opt to upcycle any empty jar / vessel by having them refill it as a candle for you. They'll only charge you for the candle based on the volume capacity of your jar. (If you don't have any used candle jars to upcycle but really want a new candle, this is also an option for you!
When it comes to household materials, a type of material that we often overlook in terms of recycling is the light bulb. While not all bulbs can be recycled, fluorescent bulbs can be! In fact, it is important to recycle or dispose of your fluorescent lamps carefully as it contains mercury which could cause health risks when it is exposed. PNH Recycle Pte Ltd is the only Singaporean company that runs a Fluorescent Lights Recycling Plant. They can recycle almost 80% of the materials from your fluorescent lights! These bulbs are crushed carefully and separated into different materials - glass, aluminium caps, steel bits and a mercury mixture. The mercury mixture will then be further distilled to be sold to manufacturers safely, so you can do your part to prevent mercury poisoning in our environment.
Furniture & Other Bulky Items
Hock Siong & Co is a family business that specialises in restoring old furniture and homeware. If you have old furniture that are in good condition, simply give them call! Their team can modify and repurpose second hand furniture, so that wastage will be minimised. They like to buy furniture in bulk, so this is the perfect service if you’re moving houses or upgrading your dining room.
If you know your furnitures are not fit for refurbishment, consider engaging Earth Recycling Services for responsible disposal services instead of leaving them beside the trash bins. In fact, Earth Recycling Services provides disposal services for more than home or office furnitures and applicances. They take e-waste, paper and documents, plants, and much more — perfect if you're doing a huge clean out of your space.
While they do charge for their disposal services, you get the assurance that most recyclable materials in your pile of trash will be given a second life. The company is focused on reducing waste, so all items collected are thoroughly sorted at their facility, and most recyclable materials will be salvaged for recycling, even if they have to be dismantled.
For the clothes you no longer wear but are still in a good condition, consider swapping them! Great local initiatives like Swapaholic and Cloop close the fashion loop by keeping our clothes circulating within the community. This diverts apparel-waste from the landfills and gives us the opportunity to shop second-hand too!
We're aware that some clothes are not so easy to find second-hand though. If you're one that wears basics repeatedly, Tortoise's Carrot Credits Recycling System is one way to keep your wardrobes waste-free too. All you must do is return your well-loved Tortoise pieces to us, and we'll upcycle or recycle them. Furthermore, you get rewarded with some Carrot Credits to use on your replacement purchases. Currently, our Carrot Credit Returns are only applicable for Tortoise’s products, we're working on accepting used clothes from all other brands soon! Sign up for our newsletter below to be notified when we do.
Adopting new habits to save our earth may be challenging, but every step counts! We hope that these suggestions above will inspire you to take little steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle. Just as Tortoise is working toward our goal of reducing waste in the long run, you can too!
If you have any suggestions of other local recycling initiatives to include in this list, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.