New year, old clothes — issue #30

New year, old clothes — issue #30

Recently, a friend’s acquaintance was searching for specialty coffee beans from countries near Singapore to reduce his carbon footprint. My friend quipped that those seemed rare. Apparently, things blew up real quick after that.

Surely you’ve been in one of these conversations. A chat about sustainability nosedives, and everyone digs their heels in—even after talk turns to metal straws, hot showers, cotton shirts, or any of the countless ways we contribute to unsustainable systems of consumption each day.

If we live in an unsustainable world, perhaps our conversations about it ought to start with compassion. That’s not the same as letting people off the hook, mind, but how we communicate makes a big difference when we’re trying to spark change, even when we hold others accountable.

At Kontinentalist, we hope our data stories start these conversations about how we might consume better. In that spirit, I’m curious: when was the last time you saw a tense conversation about sustainability turn to compassion, instead? Tell us more—we’d love to be inspired.

Kenneth, editor

Behind the scenes
illustration of waste and pollution from sustainable fashion
This story was inspired by the Fashion Sustainability Report 2021, which touched on the issue of sustainable wear in Southeast Asia and provided a lot of insightful data.

As always, it’s a balance between writing a meaningful story while making it easy to read, and one of our favourite methods to do so is using data visualisations.

Card deck visualisation of different Southeast Asian countries
We used a card deck visualisation to portray information regarding “Sustainable Wear Markets in Southeast Asia". For information that’s sorted spatially, we often prefer to use a map, but this card deck provides an alternative—we were able to showcase information about various countries in short paragraphs that were easily digestible. If our readers wanted to find out more, they can hover over the card to flip it, but they aren’t faced with a lot of information at once by default.
Interactive card deck in the form of fabric swatches.
For the consumer preference survey results, the original idea was to make a card accordion of fabric swatches, with the information on each swatch. However, the design team decided that it would be better for a visualisation with a simpler appearance, and therefore this visualisation was created, with a color palette that matched the overall design style of the story.
Image of where to get sustainable fashion in Singapore.
Last, the map at the end of the story tells the reader that there are quite a few places in Singapore where you can sustainably obtain new clothing and recycle old ones. By using an interactive map, the reader can see where the nearest sustainable clothing spaces to them are.
Gwyneth, writer
...more from us
Image of hyper-consumerism: a hand holding a handphone with a shopping application opened.
With the boom in online shopping, nearly everything is at our fingertips. But what are the human and environmental costs of our digital convenience? 
Image of a shop selling sustainable products.
It’s not that Singaporeans don’t care about the environment. In fact, most do. So what’s stopping them from switching to sustainable goods? 

Check this out! 
Image of Data-deep-dive branding; a magnifying glass hovering over various data-viz illustrations.
We’ve got a fresh new project running on Instagram! Data Deep Dive is our new fortnightly series aimed at sharing knowledge and tips on data literacy. Looking to verify existing data sources? Our first installment at @kontinentalist got you covered.

🔮 Medium
"I think that for a country to be data friendly, you need to have access to the data, you need to be able to rely on that data, and you need to use that data. And I mean, not just policymakers — policy-makers need to have that data backing up all of their decisions — but also the people."


Stuff we love
Reporters Minna Knus-Galán and Jessica Stolzmann used GPS trackers to follow the journey of online shopping returns and clothes donated to charity. What they found at the end was not pretty. read ↗

Waste-free villages in rural Asia? Lovers of K-pop and…climate action? Tune in to Sustainable Asia to learn how Asians are addressing the environmental crises of our time. listen ↗
Follow culinary anthropologist Nithiya Laila as she travels all over Asia discovering unique, indigenous ingredients that make for local and sustainable meals. watch ↗

Our friend Qiyun from @theweirdandwild got us thinking about the environmental impacts of our consumption habits again, this time on the clothes we buy but don’t actually wear. swipe ↗

Did you know?
A stack of banana leaves, commonly used as packaging in Asia.
For centuries, the wide and durable banana leaf has been used for various purposes in Southeast Asia and India. People in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia often use them to wrap traditional cakes, rice, and produce, giving the food a pleasant aroma and allowing it to stay fresh for longer. Banana leaves actually contain natural antioxidants that kill germs. Both fresh and dried banana leaves are also used across the region as garnishes for temple offerings, traditional clothing, and handicrafts. Today, many supermarkets in Asia are returning to the trusty banana leaf to combat waste from plastic packaging.

Source: Banana leaves, a sustainable
alternative to plastic