Comment: Living in Singapore doesn’t have to be so expensive when you’re a freegan



Along with the growing popularity of freeganism, there are growing concerns about our carbon footprint and our waste. According to a study by the Institute of Policy Studies published in 2021, three out of five Singaporeans believe that protecting the environment should take priority over economic growth.

However, making more sustainable choices isn’t always cheap. Vegan and fair trade foods and clothing tend to be more expensive than their regular counterparts. The same goes for electric cars, even with incentives and discounts.

But the freegan lifestyle marries sustainable and frugal living with an emphasis on reducing consumption. Every item you buy comes from a long supply chain that uses resources and produces waste every step of the way, even if those products come from sustainable sources.

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Take for example an audio store owner I met recently. He must keep an excess stock of headphones to ensure the exchanges of customers claiming their warranty. After a few years of the warranty periods expiring, the remaining stock is discarded.

That’s how I ended up getting about a hundred boxes of brand new headphones. Multiply that by the number of businesses in Singapore, large and small, and it’s no wonder the country’s non-domestic sector generated 5.12 million tonnes of waste in 2021.

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But freegans don’t always strive to reduce waste out of a passion for the environment. Some have a much more pragmatic reason: to reduce their personal expenses.

I used to spend 2000 Singapore dollars a month in my pre-freegan days. Now my necessary monthly expenses have dropped to only S$350 including insurance. Since I mostly eat scavenged food, I have reduced my food costs from $500 per month to zero, not to mention the occasional birthday treat at a restaurant for a loved one. I am also much healthier than the variety of foods I eat has expanded.

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I can’t remember the last time I walked into a mall because I was able to get items on my wishlist for free. What I spend on entertainment has plummeted because all of my favorite leisure activities cost nothing: communing with nature, visiting our island’s many parks and beaches, volunteering for social causes, and enjoying food-based meals. picked up with friends.



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