the heartwarming side to flea markets.

Staying zero waste in Singapore doesn’t come easy, especially when we all live an hour away from Orchard Road. But we don’t have to stop buying to start saving the earth. Cue: flea markets.

Here’s the thing: while the fight for sustainability and reduced consumption still rages on, chances are, we’re not going to stop buying the things we love. A pretty bleak outlook at first, but when you dig deeper, it’s a pretty realistic one. 

Because even if you choose to buy one instead of three decorative pieces of plastic for your work desk (frame, toy, pot), or swap a want for a need, something is going to be purchased. Which also means setting off a signal on the demand-supply chain: consume more, produce more. 

And while there is most definitely a space for buying less to help the sustainable cause, finding joy in material items doesn’t have to be sacrificed for the greater good. Cue: flea markets. 

The epitome of reduction in a consumer society, flea markets are possibly the next best thing to owning more items without actually needing to consume more on the overall. We don’t need to produce, so we don’t actually need to use (raw materials) or contribute to the following possible pollution. Staying green, even if you’re a low-key “hoarder” of all things useless. 

We see you, we’re the same. 

a flea market in the office. 

Which is why when futr Singapore wanted to do something for International Zero Waste Day, the office banded together for something pretty amazing: a makeshift flea market. 

Bringing items we no longer wanted or needed, we set out to fuel each other’s need for more by getting rid of our own. 

From books to toys and even perfumes, there was enough for everyone to buy or sell something. And that’s despite the office being made up of a very diverse range of ages, at pretty different life stages. Even the (many) parents that made up the office had children in different phases of their lives.

It seemed that even though we were all going through unique journeys on the surface, there was at least one thing we could pick out from each other, that we could love and treasure as our own.

Yes, those are men holding spices and old school comic books. A weird range of items, surely – none of which were originally theirs. But when you’re able to pick out a little something of you that was once part of someone else, random items suddenly become meaningful. 

And they went for cheap, too! Socks at $1, original leather bags at $2. Even a bottle of branded perfumes stayed below the double-digit price range. In the spirit of reducing, we were also giving. 

If we took away anything from our little flea market (other than more items!), it was this: beyond a flea market’s messy surface lies more than just staying green and supporting sustainability. By sharing what was once ours, we can find a little piece of our lives in someone else’s.

So if you’re looking to stay green this Zero Waste Day, perhaps consider rehoming your own items instead of throwing them away. Who knows? You might find something in common with someone you least expect to. 

Looking for more ways to stay green this Zero Waste Day? Check out these 12 thrift shops in Singapore, or find out how insects might just be the next protein alternative

siti ayeeshah zaki

Writer, dreamer and explorer. When she’s not writing for Strada Visual Lab, Ayeeshah spends her time reading, skating and living life to her definition of fullest.

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