Alya Annabi
Green Lifestyle Enthusiast & Founder - GreenPush
Alya's introduction

Increasingly concerned about the environment, for the past few years, Alya has taken steps to live a more sustainable lifestyle, with the digital learning manager refilling goods at plastic-free stores, making her own skincare from scratch and composting her kitchen waste. Since she has embarked on her ‘green journey’, Alya has been taking actions to keep on raising awareness towards sustainability – from organising free workshops and holding talks, to creating a neighbourhood chat group to reduce waste & increase sharing amongst neighbours. In 2021, Alya has been featured on BBC News for tracking her carbon footprint using the Capture app.

In 2022, Alya has founded GreenPush, a knowledge + community platform to help eco-conscious individuals grow. 🌱

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

When I arrived in Singapore in 2018, I was shocked by the amount of single use plastic that was used on a daily basis. I felt overwhelmed by all the packaging that came each time I purchased something. So 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. Fortunately, I discovered a lot of Facebook groups & information online to help me kickstart my sustainability journey in Singapore.

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, during talks and events.

What triggered your decision to bring sustainability in the office?

After doing so much research online, I started sharing a lot about green practices & sustainability in general with my former colleague Carolin Barr (founder of susGain). 

In the previous company I worked for, we used to organised some "Lunch & Learn" talks in the office, to get to know our colleagues better. So we decided to take this opportunity to organise a presentation about how to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle in Singapore. With Carolin, we shared about our own experiences and what we were already doing at home. 

After the talks, we started initiating some ‘green initiatives’ in the office - such as adding a compost container next to the coffee machine to collect coffee grounds & tea bags, or nudging our colleagues in reusing plastic containers & metal cutlery when going outside for our lunch  breaks (to reduce our waste).

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

During the talks that we organised, we shared some of our best practices to reduce waste using the 5R (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Rot). 

To that extent, we implemented a composting container in the pantry, to collect used coffee grounds & tea bags. We explained to our colleagues that instead of throwing the coffee grounds & their tea bags in the regular bin, they could just do the same in the container next to the coffee machine. We made it easy & accessible for them to start doing it.

After a few weeks, we designed and added a flyer to show to our colleagues what they could (or not) put in the compost container. Gradually, not only we saw coffee grounds & tea bags being added regularly, we  also saw some crushed egg shells, avocado, banana peels… being added to the compost. To manage the compost system and keep it simple, Carolin was bringing home the full container on a daily basis and added the food scraps to her community garden’s compost.

Furthermore, we started washing the plastic containers that came with our take-away food and reuse it for the next meal. By seeing this, more and more colleagues followed that habit and 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 keep the momentum by making a virtual presentation about how to "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 directly related to office life since we did not have an office anymore after the pandemic hit. 

The company is now using shared offices, which I hope will lower their carbon footprint, paper footprint, etc.

You have decided to start your own company GreenPush. Can you tell us more about it?

Of course! When I embarked on my green journey, I learned a lot about sustainable living from various resources online and started sharing more and more about sustainability with my friends & colleagues during talks and events.

In 2020, I created a neighbourhood community group to nudge people into the habit of giving instead of throwing away and quickly realised the power of knowledge sharing, as neighbours got more and more interested in implementing some green habits into their lives. 

That’s how we ended up organising many knowledge-sharing sessions, from “Composting” workshops, Beach Clean-up events, “Tempe & Kombucha making” sessions, to “Climate Collage” workshops…and many more. 

So after 2+ years of animating talks & various green workshops and realising the power that communities can have to drive positive change, I decided to create GreenPush.

GreenPush is a knowledge + community platform to help eco-conscious individuals grow. 🌱

We are on a mission to share actionable green steps that you can implement as habits and continue your green journey with other like-minded individuals.

How? Through workshops, events, talks & more

GreenPush also offers corporate workshops & talks to any organization who wants to educate their employees in implementing new sustainable green habits, at home or in the office.

What are you most proud of?

In 2020, I changed neighbourhoods and realised how much people were throwing away valuable items, and thought “why don’t they donate?”. 🤷🏻‍♀️

I decided to act and created a neighbourhood community group to nudge people into the habit of giving instead of throwing away. It started with me knocking on people’s doors to introduce them to the group then the word of mouth did its work!

Little did I know that this community would grow so much, with 120+ participants and more than 2,900+ items that have been shared, donated, rescued or borrowed (and eventually saved from landfill). 🥳

What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to The Matcha Initiative users?
  1. Raise awareness about sustainability during lunch time to open the discussion with your colleagues
  2. Test & Learn process: you never know if it will work until you try!
  3. Try some influencing techniques: I think the ‘social proof’ principle helped in our case. When you see other people doing something, you tend to do the same and follow the trend
How could you help The Matcha Initiative users as a buddy?

I can share my experience to green the office, do introduction to green communities and I would be happy to discuss the talks & green workshops I am currently developing for GreenPush around sustainable living.

Alya kindly accepts to answer your questions.

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