YUMIKA HOSKIN: REDUCING SINGLE-USE PLASTIC, ONE STEP AT A TIME
A skilled fashion stylist, model, television show host, actress and founder of reusable bag brand Peco Bags—Singapore-based Yumika Hoskin is an eco-activist who’s doing her part to create a greener world without single-use plastic.
What sparked your passion for eco-conscious living?
My diligence in switching most products in my household to eco-friendly items definitely accelerated when I started developing the Peco Bag brand. I love punching the term “eco-friendly products” into the trusty old Google search bar to find new items on the market, so looking for items that have sustainability practices incorporated from pre-production all the way to the end of their shelf lives was a good start to my education.
It’s fascinating to use an item that is made from natural resources and is not harmful to the environment, and it’s also fun to share about their origins! I have dental floss made from corn and beeswax, and I have natural crystal deodorant made from t potassium aluminium sulfate, a mineral salt.
Apart from using products made from natural ingredients, I also adopt the practice of not buying “new” items unnecessarily and that is also satisfying. My dishwashing liquids, washing powder and hand soap are all refilled into the same bottles at local refillable stores. I make sure I say no to bottled water from the store and I always have my reusable coffee cup, water bottle and cutlery with me.
As an influencer, I was receiving gifted items in excess and sometimes I am introduced to products with natural ingredients. As more and more skincare brands create formulas with “no silicone” or “no parabens”, it made me wonder, why should we be using items with chemicals in them at all? Isn’t it better to be 100% natural?
While my exploration of beauty and skincare is still in early stages, I am certainly focused on not looking at reviews, or what is popular, or getting the must-have item of the season. Instead, I go straight into exploring the brand's methods. Is the plastic they use for their casing recycled plastic? If not, why?
My sustainability journey first started with me asking “why?”, and then, “what?”. Once you’ve started on that journey, living green is a really satisfying and fulfilling lifestyle.
Aside from being an eco-activist, you also wear the hats of an entrepreneur, TV host and actress. How has sustainability played a part in each of these roles?
Working in the entertainment industry, I sometimes feel that I lack purpose and passion. As much as I enjoy my career, speaking or advocating for an interest that is close to my heart is more fulfilling and comes naturally to me.
Recently, I hosted a virtual launch of the new Porsche Taycan in Singapore, which is the first all-electric Porsche sports car, bringing the brand into a new era of electric auto mobility. I also co-hosted The Virtual Conscious Festival by Green Is The New Black in June 2020, and it was a huge honour to introduce speakers from all over the world who come from sustainability background.
Standing out and being “different” in my field is definitely important, so it is always really humbling every time I get an email from a client who recognises me for being an advocate for sustainability.
What inspired Peco Bag? How has upcycling helped to accelerate the green movement in Singapore and around the world?
The idea came from my frustration at supermarkets—watching how groceries were packed in plastic bags and the excess of waste that came from a single-use plastic item. Once, I was so overwhelmed with guilt for using a plastic bag when I forgot to bring my reusable tote bag.
I had always wanted to start my own business one day, and the big idea finally came to me one night. A few months earlier, my friend had told me about rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) fabric, which is created from recycled plastic bottles, and I found that fascinating.
With a degree in Fashion Design, never did I think that I was going to be the founder of a bag label! But it was really all about creating a brand with the mission of providing a solution, rather than about chasing trend and popularity.
Since I started Peco Bags in January 2018, it has been incredible to see more upcycled materials being produced by other brands! There is nylon, made from recycled fishing nets recovered from the oceans, which has been popular with activewear and swimwear labels.
More natural and biodegradable materials are also being produced. For example, we have leather materials made from cactus and grape skin, and more sustainably-grown materials such as hemp or bamboo fibres which are used instead of cotton. There are even biodegradable or compostable options to replace plastic, such as corn starch or rice husk.
You've also produced your own digital travel series, "Where We Wander", which focuses on ecotourism. What was one thing that impacted or inspired you the most while filming the series?
The biggest takeaway for me was that hotels are some of the most impactful organisations when it comes to co-creating a circular economy. What I loved about staying at these sustainable hotels was the fact that waste systems were implemented from start to finish.
There is something special about walking into a hotel bathroom and seeing toilet paper made from husk, organic cotton buds made from bamboo and water refills that are bottled daily from filtered water systems. These are now key considerations for me when I stay at any hotel.
Ecotourism is really about coexisting, co-creating and collaborating with a community that lives off the land. At the hotels I have stayed at, food was sourced from local nearby farmers, and many of the hotels have their own herb gardens. My favourite was a hotel which was built within nature, which reminded me of how Singapore’s landscape has been built.
You spent the majority of your life in Australia before coming to Singapore. How did being exposed to different cultures and environments help shape your ideas about what "sustainability" is?
My mother is Japanese and my father is Australian. I grew up in an Australian environment with Japanese cultural influences at home, like having our lunchboxes wrapped in fabric and carrying reusable water bottles. My mum always brought reusable bags out, which she packed in the boot of the car to use at the supermarkets. Who knew that my eco-friendly mindset had actually been shaped by my mum so long ago!
Australia has incredibly diverse nature and animals that are so unique to our landscape. The conservation efforts to protect our wild animals and the environment has been ingrained in children from a young age. Nature was a huge reason I fell in love with Singapore and chose to make it my new home.
I love that Singapore is a city within a garden—a young country that pays homage to protecting the environment and recognises local brands that are creating innovative ways and products to encourage circular systems. To me, that is what sustainability is about. It is about blending traditional concepts with slow, conscious living.
What are some small changes that people can incorporate into their daily routines to lead a more sustainable lifestyle?
Firstly, get comfortable with saying “no” to single-use plastics. Bring your own reusable items, like a foldable bag, coffee cup or water bottle for a start. There are so many options out there, including reusable containers that are collapsible so that they are convenient to carry.
Secondly, visit plastic-free bulk food stores, like Scoop Wholefoods and The Source, where you can cut down on the packaging and store what you need in your own reusable containers.
My third tip is to go refillable whenever possible. I go to The Social Space to refill my shampoos, conditioners and washing soaps. Bring your own jars and bottles instead of using single-use plastics. Even refilling your water bottle instead of buying bottled water from the convenience store can make an impact.
What is one change that you really hope to see in Singapore?
I truly hope to see Singapore become a nation that bans single-use plastic items altogether, and one that really educates Singaporeans about the how-tos of recycling, starting from their households. It’s the simple things that can make a big difference, like washing your plastic food containers before putting them in the recycling bin so that they are not “contaminated”, or using biodegradable bags instead of plastic ones as bin liners.
Small steps can create a huge impact towards a greener future, and Singapore has the potential and the power to be a leader of this movement.
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REDUCING THE USE OF SINGLE-USE PLASTICS
At The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts, we are committed to creating a better tomorrow through our sustainability practices. Together with the World Wildlife Fund, we have signed a Plastic ACTion commitment (PACT) agreement to reduce the use of single-use plastics by 2030.
At The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore, we have replaced all plastic takeaway packaging, cutlery and single-use plastic straws and stirrers with plant-based alternatives; single-use plastic bags with reusable non-woven bags; and plastic bottles with glass bottles.
Learn more about our sustainability journey here.