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Sustainability Guide: Charlotte Mei's Tips to Live and Travel Green

Making the switch to a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t always require big changes to your way of life. Here's how you can live and travel green. 

Sustainability Guide: Charlotte Mei's Tips to Live and Travel Green

Making the switch to a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t always require big changes to your way of life. We speak to Charlotte Mei, sustainability advocate, multi-talented television presenter and nutritionist, about how small steps towards a greener lifestyle, starting from daily routines at home, can make a great impact to the environment.

What was the major turning point that made you decide to champion sustainable living?

There wasn’t really a turning point for me, as sustainable living was always part of my way of life when I was growing up. It was never highlighted as "sustainable living" though… they were simply taught to me as good habits to have.

When I moved back to Singapore, after living abroad for eight years in countries where eco-consciousness was more normalised and the environment supported it, it struck me that we were steps behind. That was when I decided to be more vocal about it and share my personal practices and experiences on my platform.

What are some guidelines you follow to ensure that you live a sustainable lifestyle?

I try my best to be mindful about my everyday decisions—what I do, what I buy, where I spend my dollar—and to use things to their fullest potential. The goal is to reduce the need to buy new items, so it's important to buy things of quality that will last long, and to stretch their lifespan as much as I can!

Today’s travellers are becoming increasingly mindful about their environmental impact. How do you think we, as consumers, can make an impact through the choices we make as we travel? 

Love this question! I feel that everyone has a part to play when it comes to travelling—both the service providers, as well as the travellers themselves. Here are a few tips: 

1. Do your research before travelling:
- Research about the hotels you stay at: is sustainability part of their DNA? What is their relationship with the environment they’re in? How do they manage their waste? Do they support the local community?
- Research about the destination: how can you best spend your travel dollar to support the local community? Does the city have good public transport? Do they support renewable energy?

2. Be conscious about how you spend your travel dollar. Buy and eat local, pick activities carefully (be mindful of wildlife tours, for example), and try to take part in local activities to help the community.

My mum lives in Costa Rica and when I'm visiting, I would take walks on the beach in the evenings and do a beach clean-up while walking. It's quite therapeutic! And sometimes I'd see some people doing the same too, which is really nice.

What are some steps you take to lower your environmental footprint when you travel?

I BYO (Bring Your Own) and use these items from the moment I start my travel. For example, I use my own reusable cup for any drinks I order on a flight. Sometimes I pack my own snacks, too. I also bring my own toiletries so that I won't have to use disposable hotel amenities like toothbrushes or miniature soap bottles.

Some basic BYO staples I always have in my bag: a cup, bottle, cutlery set (go bamboo if you’re travelling by air! I got my stainless steel ones confiscated at security!), a handkerchief and a foldable bag.

Thankfully, most of these items are light, as I also keep in mind to pack light. I choose to bring clothing that is versatile and that can be dressed in different ways— this saves having to plan a daily wardrobe too!

With everyone having to adapt to a more home-bound lifestyle in recent times, what are 3 easy ways we can reduce our food waste while at home?

Store your food properly. A lot of food is thrown out because they go bad due to improper storage. For example, store rinsed salad leaves in a salad spinner—this keeps them fresher for longer. Store coriander (with root intact) in a glass of water with a bag over it, and in the fridge.

Use your freezer to increase the lifespan of foods you may not be able to finish up before they go bad. This works great for fruits like bananas, mango, berries, kiwis, grapes, pineapple (make sure to peel and chop them up before doing so); bread; stews and curries; and herbs.

Start a compost bin at home! There are several ways to do this, but I find the Bokashi method the most approachable for city-living. I have all the information on that pinned onto my Instagram highlights under ‘Composting’! :)

What is a common misconception that people have about leading a sustainable lifestyle that you would like to dispel?

That it is expensive! True sustainable living is in fact the complete opposite! If you think about it, it ought to be a more affordable lifestyle.

Firstly, because you buy less. And when you do buy, you look for something that is of good quality so it lasts you a longer period of time (such as clothes made from sturdy material and good stitching), or you look for something which is reusable instead of single-use which you have to keep buying—like a silicone storage bag or a handkerchief.

Visit @thecharlottemei for more tips how you can reduce your carbon footprint.

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Sustainability is a way of life at The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts. At The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, food digesters are used to reduce food waste and convert waste into useful products. Learn more about our other green initiatives, from reducing plastic waste to introducing plant-based menus, here.