Given the increasing threat of climate change over the past few decades, many businesses have started to pay closer attention to encouraging environmental sustainability. These include social enterprises that use innovative ways to meet the dual objectives of staying financially sustainable and being socially responsible. ARTHUR ADIMOELJA susses out five such businesses that have taken an environmentally friendly approach in their operations.
Started in 2016, Rehyphen repurposes discarded cassette tapes into pieces of cloths, labelled MusicCloths®, which then are made into various products such as EZ-link card backings, tote bags and scarves. It also organises “Ready, Cassette, Go” workshops on AirBnB Experiences, where participants are taught to weave the cassette tapes into MusicCloths® and use them to make their own desired objects. The company’s initiatives have earned them some plaudits, with luxury watch brand Corum naming Rehyphen’s founder Jessica Chuan as a Friend of the Brand, and Red Dot 21’s World of Design featuring some of their works.
The fashion industry is notorious for being one of the most environmentally damaging industries, with the growth in fast fashion contributing to over-production of fashion-related products that cause increased waste and pollution. Swapaholic’s solution to this issue is to encourage people to exchange their unused items in their closets instead of purchasing new ones. Indeed, “one person’s unloved items could be another’s treasure”—to date, the social enterprise claims to have saved 50,000 fashion items, 135,000,000 litres of water in the production process of fashion items, and about 88,000 kilograms of CO2 emissions through their efforts.
Singapore is home to a diverse marine ecosystem of coral reefs, coastal forests and mangroves, which are becoming increasingly threatened by the rise in ocean waste and pollution. In order to conserve this fragile ecosystem, Seastainable seeks to encourage a more sustainable lifestyle through the sale of zero-plastic, zero-waste products on their site, and by offering educational marine conservation. Recently, the company has expanded their operations to other Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Malaysia, and launched their own Seastainable grant which supports the initiatives from grassroots and non-governmental organisations.
Flowers are often viewed as symbols of love and joy, making them popular gifts for loved ones. Building on the “power of flowers”, Bloomback specialises in making long-lasting preserved florals that are eco-friendly, and repurposes event flowers as presents for patients at hospitals, hospices and nursing homes. They additionally employ and provide skills training to persons from marginalised communities.
#5 Sonder Social
Sonder Social aims to bridge the gap between social enterprises and potential customers through a subscription box service comprising carefully curated items by themes (Kindness, Courage, Intelligence, Elan, Vulnerability, Verve). Their boxes are also recyclable and carry biodegradable filters, making them easier to be repurposed. Embracing their #SeriouslyConscious motto, Sonder Social ensures that every purchase of their subscription box goes towards supporting environmental sustainability efforts and marginalised communities in the Asia-Pacific region.