Superficial Sustainability in Singapore— why do we practice it?

Robin Low
5 min readMar 18, 2023

I started a brand in 2004 focusing on the most sustainable ways of manufacturing. The factories are located by a river, so we can use the flowing water to turn a waterwheel which in turn move the gears of the circular knitting machines. Our colored yarns are dyed in a closed loop machine where none of the dyes or waste leave the factory.

The factory is off the grid and powered only by solar energy, and we filter harvested water for cleaning and process the outputs for our hydroponic garden in the roof. The fabric is called Eco-fabric and it contains nano-particles of bamboo charcoal that makes the fabric deodorizing and antibacterial — all without the use of chemicals.

Sustainability was a topic that had great interest, but consumers still prefer fast fashion — big brands that talks about using “organic cotton” but manufactures in factories that bleaches the hell out of the fabric to make fluorescent colored t-shirts or pastel colored tank tops. Most of the dyes used are toxic and processed just enough to be considered safe to dump in the sewers.

When brands want to use my fabric, we went through a lot of testing to prove the effectiveness of the materials, only for the brands to use it on a small portion at the collar or the armpits for jackets, and claiming the product to be “sustainable”.

Greenwashing is by default, big brands would have a global supply chain just to find the cheapest place to manufacture the products and all the talk about carbon footprint of suppliers are never measured. These suppliers would find ways to cut cost and often, the environment and labor are sacrificed as the lowest cost mean cheapest labor and unethical processing methods.

Sometimes, these big brands are caught and all they do is pay the fines and consumers continue to buy because the marketing tells them so.

Most of the time, consumers do not really care about the environment, but they want to look like they are doing their part when being asked. In Singapore, many companies that claim to be sustainable still serve bottled water, even though all water from Singapore taps are safe to drink, and an installation of a simple filter would remove any possible smell or taste in the water. I was speaking at a…

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Robin Low

Author, Traveler, Innovator. Focuses on Social Impact and Innovation.