Aparigraha and Sustainability

I just watched the TEDxTiESG #JOINTHECOUNTDOWN livestream talk and thought that it is very apt to share in this current climate situation. A brief background on the Countdown collaboration below. You may find out more on https://countdown.ted.com/

“Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action. The goal: To build a better future by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 in the race to a zero-carbon world – a world that is safer, cleaner and fairer for everyone.”


How is sustainability relevant to Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)? Without going into the history of consumerism and industrial revolution, I believe that most of us will agree that we are entrenched in a consumerism society. “If only you had________, you would be happier/more successful/respected/etc.” Additionally, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) does not help either.


Because of this assumption and fear, humankinds are destroying the habitats of many other living things, including our own. I believe that practising Aparigraha can and will contribute positively in our sustainability actions as we learn to discern between our needs and wants.


What can we do in our daily lives to practise Aparigraha?

  1. Practise Marie Kondo’s famous phrase – “Does it spark joy?”

One practice that I have been doing since my secondary school days is to clear out clothes, shoes, bags, books, etc. that I no longer need and donate them to the Salvation Army or people around me, at least once a year. Those items have served me well and are still in good condition to fulfil its purpose for someone else. Since they no longer spark joy in me, it is time to give them away.

  1. Shop consciously.

I don’t deny the need to shop. However, we can practise more awareness whenever we go on our shopping trips. It helps to reduce unnecessary purchases and if we do buy something, be mindful of the source, especially clothing.

Fast fashion is a problem. Their clothing is cheap but, the quality is typically compromised. This results in faster wear and tear, and in turn the need to buy again. The entire cycle encourages more production and more pollution and waste.

Personally, I like to shop at 2nd hand vintage clothing shops as I find their material quality way better (I can wear long sleeve silk dress in Singapore’s hot daytime weather, feel cool i.e. not warm and not perspire) and have more design elements as compared to today’s clothing styles. They are pricier but I know I am paying for quality and design. Let’s be honest, the price also helps to control my spending.

  1. Order and eat only what you can.

Food wastage is a major issue contributing to sustainability. More food is required to meet its demands when we waste food. More food means more production, processing, transportation and in turn, more greenhouse gas emissions.

You may read more about the problem and innovative initiatives employed in Singapore, and actions we can take at: https://www.towardszerowaste.gov.sg/foodwaste/


 Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The pursuit for more is endless and superfluous.