#CurbYourConsumption: A Lazy Person's Guide to Moderation

By Ng Weng Lin


A few months ago, my friend Andreia was featured a Straits Times article highlighting the changing relationships people are having with food. With heightened awareness around sustainability, more young Singaporeans such as Andreia are rethinking their diets, food sources and purchasing patterns. “Many of my friends are also cutting down on meat simply because it is easier to cook vegetables at home,” she was quoted saying. I found out later that she was actually referring to me, though I had never intentionally decided to go “meat-lite.” 

Looking at examples on social media and in the news, it is easy to assume that we have to go to great lengths to further a social cause. However, becoming an environmental campaigner, going completely vegan, or eliminating plastic entirely are not attainable goals for many, least of all me. I prefer to embrace the attitude that it’s better to do something tiny than nothing at all.

And so, in spirit of “doing something tiny”, I experimented with making several do-able, non-disruptive adjustments to compile my Lazy-Person's Guide to Moderation.

#1. Use metal straws whenever you remember


Using a metal straw once every whenever-you-remember is better than never! Pro-tip: give it a rinse after each use and store it in a case so you don’t have to worry about dirtying your bag. 💪 Do-ability level: 5/5

#2. Forgo the extra serving of meat


Nobody's actually asking you to become a vegetarian, but on an ordinary day, it isn't difficult to go without that extra serving of meat. Starting the habit to eat less meat during everyday meals will make it a lot easier to take smaller portions during festive feasts. 💪 Do-ability level: 3.5/5

#3. Recycle the packaging from your packages


Being an avid online shopper means I receive my share of parcels, which usually come in boxes filled with stuffing and bubble wrap. Despite my best intentions, I have found that I'll forget to take the packaging for recycling unless I take the immediate act of doing so the minute after I unbox. So don't wait, just do it right away. 💪 Do-ability level: 3/5

#4. Set a timer to your air conditioning unit


Can't sleep without air conditioning? Consider setting a timer to power down the AC a few hours after you go to sleep. Leave your fan on so your bedroom remains cool. I often do this on cold and rainy nights. 💪 Do-ability level: 4/5

#5. Sing one less song in the shower


If you shaved five minutes off a shower every day for a week, you would save over half an hour of water. Without a bathroom clock, it is easy to lose track of time in the shower, so maybe sing your last song after you dry up. 💪 Do-ability level: 4.5/5

#6. Use one square less of toilet paper


One square less isn't a big ask, especially if you're the sort that tends to grab and pull as if toilet paper would never run out. Spare a thought for the next user and the planet: you need only so much (or little) to get the job done. 💪 Do-ability level: 5/5

#7. Have a clean plastic bag on hand

plastic bag

Fun fact: Plastic bags don't get a lot of love from eco-conscious folks, but did you know they were designed to be reusable? A plastic bag weighs almost nothing, is easy to clean and more convenient to carry around than most reusable carriers or totes. I always have a plastic bag on hand as I never know when I'd need one, and I wash and reuse it whenever necessary. 💪 Do-ability level: 4.5/5

#8. Make slow decisions when it comes to fast fashion


Here's some advice from a former fast-fashion junkie: if an item looks like it might rip after 10 washes, or its distinctive design reflects a passing trend, exercise caution before buying. My personal hope is that repeating our outfits becomes more normalised and accepted: after all, we invented washing machines for a reason! 💪 Do-ability level: 3.5/5

#9. Skip the sales to enjoy 100% savings


Have you ever received a notification that your parcel was arriving, and had to struggle to remember what you ordered? I certainly have, and that was a wake-up call that I was making online purchases so frequently I had forgotten what I'd bought. More often than not, my shopping was less about needing the items and more about wanting to enjoy a good discount. So if you're eyeing something for the sake of a holiday sale, ask yourself if you'd still be using it six months from now. 💪 Do-ability level: 4/5

#10. Switch off the tree lights before you go to bed


As the holiday season approaches, families who celebrate will be decorating their trees and homes. But why keep the fairy lights on after you've drifted off to dreamland? Believe me: all your neighbours will be asleep too, so the only impact you're making is on next month's electricity bill. Save the lights for when you're awake to enjoy the ambience. 💪 Do-ability level: 5/5

Having test-driven these lifestyle tweaks, I have found these small adjustments to be a lot easier than imagined. And while it may seem like my metal straws alone can't save the world, I hope this checklist inspires more people to get on-board with making tiny changes so we can together make collective impact.




Ng Weng Lin is a research executive at the Lien Centre for Social Innovation. She comes with a background in psychology and experience in youth mental health research and in early intervention for children with special needs. Her interests include mental well-being, education and internet doxing behaviours. As an individual in a larger movement of social innovation, she is hopeful for the future and strives for continual, positive change. Reach out to Weng Lin at wenglinng@smu.edu.sg