One Green Step At A Time

One Green Step At A Time

Olivia Choong’s love for the environment inspired her to embark on a sustainable lifestyle while sharing her knowledge with the world

Written and photographed by Joyce Seah 

Olivia Choong’s love for the environment inspired her to embark on a sustainable lifestyle while sharing her knowledge with the world

We met with Olivia Choong, 39, writer, environmental activist, and founder of non-profit environmental movement Green Drinks (Singapore), at her home and had a chat in her garden.

In her work, Olivia focuses on reconnecting people with nature, as she believes the disconnection from nature and self is a huge issue.

“We need to be connected to ourselves first to have self-awareness and to empathise with other people. It’s because we don’t care, that’s why we have so many problems in the world today.”

For Olivia, she connects with nature in her garden with over 300 plants. She enjoys slow living and making her own things, taking various classes such as woodworking and natural home building.

She also rears three chickens and a rooster, two of which started laying eggs a few months back. “It’s not about buying and being a consumer, but being a producer,” she said.

“When I started on my journey, I realised there were a lot of changes and conveniences I would have to forgo, such as buying items with a lot of packaging, or using disposable cutlery,” she shared. “Certain things are not really a huge sacrifice after rationalising them. Rather than sacrifices, it was more about the planning.”

However, Olivia also understands the difficulty of eco-living in the city.

“It’s inevitable that we end up using plastics, even in my gardening work, seeds come in plastic packets,” she said with a sigh. “There are also times when we need to do not-so-eco things, such as buying bottled water in other countries for the sake of health and sanitation.”

“We just do our best we can living in the city,” Olivia said. “Every effort counts and we should continue to try everything we can, and choose changes that create more of an impact.”

To those who are considering transitioning into the eco-lifestyle, she recommended focusing on a thing at a time, like recycling, and to not to beat yourself up over certain choices that may not be as eco-friendly.

“I once went through a point in my life when I tried to do everything and felt guilty when I didn’t, but it’s silly,” she said.  “People told me that it’s a journey and you do things step by step. As with any habit, you can’t change it overnight.”

Olivia also suggested to go online and look for a community that focuses on topics, such as zero waste living and gardening.

“Some people get discouraged when starting out because it requires more effort, but being a part of a community would provide the support, and you can also learn tips and tricks,” she added.

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