Alya Annabi
Digital Learning Manager - Timeo-Performance
Alya's introduction

I am a Digital Learning Manager who has a passion for the sustainability topic and how to live a more sustainable life in Singapore. I love sharing with my colleagues and friends about this topic, hoping to inspire more and more people to have a more conscious lifestyle.

Since last year, I have been learning a lot about how to create my own products in order to detoxify my environment from harsh chemicals. Since then, I have animated some webinars called "Green Yourself" to show to people how to make their own products using what they have in their kitchen.

When and how did you get interested in a more conscious living?

When I arrived in Singapore 2 years ago, I was shocked by the amount of single use plastic. I felt overwhelmed by all the packaging that came each time I purchased something. I decided to do some research online to see how I could change my habits and create less waste in my home and in the office. It was a long test & learn process, during which I made some mistakes (we don't change habits overnight!) and that is why I decided to share everything I found out, all the tips, good practices, etc. to my friends & colleagues. Fortunately, I discovered a lot of Facebook groups & information online to help me kickstart my sustainability journey in Singapore.

What triggered your decision to bring sustainability in the office?

After doing so much research online, I started sharing a lot with my colleague Carolin. Since we organised some "Lunch & Learn" in the office, we decided to take this opportunity to make a presentation about how to be more sustainable in Singapore. We shared about our own experiences, what we were doing already at home. That is how we initiated some greener initiatives in the office, such as composting our coffee grounds & tea bags, or reusing the plastic containers & metal cutlery for our lunch breaks

What are the different initiatives you implemented and how successful have they been?

With Carolin, we shared some of our best practices using the 5R (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Rot). 

To that extent, we implemented a composting system in the pantry, where the coffee grounds & tea bags would go directly in a container nearby the coffee machine. After a few weeks, we added a flyer to show to our colleagues what they could (or not) put in the container for the composting. 

Gradually, we saw not only coffee grounds & tea bags, also some egg shells, avocado, banana peels, etc. The container was taken everyday by Carolin to add the food scraps to the compost she had in her residence (community garden). 

Furthermore, we started washing the plastic containers that came with our take-away food. To that extent, most of the colleagues started re-using plastic containers and avoiding plastic cutlery (since we had metal cutlery in the pantry!). This way, we reduced our consumption of single-use plastic, and when we gathered over lunch time, some of us were bringing their own containers. Great team effort as everyone started to be conscious about not creating more waste when going out for lunch :-)

The COVID-19 situation made it harder to maintain certain actions, how did you manage to keep the momentum?

At first, it took us some time to adapt to this virtual environment. No more lunch breaks & physical office to meet made it, of course, hard to sustain what we started. I decided to make a virtual presentation about "green yourself" where I explained to my colleagues, how to make their own products at home using ingredients that they have in their kitchen. The topic is not related to the office since we don't have an office anymore! We are now using shared offices, which I hope will lower our carbon footprint, paper footprint, etc.

What are you most proud of?

To have initiated composting with my colleagues! It sounds so "unfamiliar" to most people, and I am proud to see that the habit picked up quickly by placing this container next to the coffee machine. Thanks to that, some colleagues were also taking home some of the coffee grounds to make body scrubs!

What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to The Matcha Initiative users?
  1. Raise awareness about the topic during lunch time to open the discussion
  2. Test & Learn: you never know if it will work until you try!
  3. Leave the choice to the people: I think the social proof helped in our case. When you see your peers do something, you tend to do the same!
How could you help The Matcha Initiative users?

I can do presentations about how to kick-start your sustainability journey in Singapore (using the 5R's).

Alya kindly accepts to answer your questions.

If you need additional insights, you can send her a message.