Portia Tan, head of branding and marketing at Roger & Sons – an upcycling and wood recycling company in Singapore – shapes the sustainability conversation in a different way, through furniture.
According to her, buying well-made furniture goes a long way, and it isn’t just about the brand or price; it’s about quality. “Don’t buy chipboard products – the material flakes, and woodworkers can’t do much with it. On the other hand, restoring solid wood is much easier. You can sand it down and refinish it – it’ll look brand new.”
She adds that dumpster diving to repurpose scrap wood can be a fun weekend activity.
“The guys (from Roger & Sons) and I went dumpster diving and found a bunch of wood that used to be a boat. Balau is a really hardy wood as it can withstand the elements. We couldn’t waste it, so we refurbished it and made a table with it,” she explains, adding that purchasing second-hand furniture is always a sustainable option.
“Buy less stuff . It’s as simple as that. The less you consume, the less stress you put on the planet.”
By choosing to use local timber, you can make a huge difference. These trees were cut down to make way for urban development, and there are many, many, many more piles like this. Our wish is that all these abandoned logs get made into heritage pieces, family heirlooms, public furniture... so people can experience and appreciate their beauty. Instead of getting sent straight to the wood chipper. Let’s build something meaningful together — sky’s the limit.
The 25-year-old is worried about the environment, for good reason: “The tipping point for me was a snorkelling trip to Phuket in 2016. The corals were all bleached and there weren’t any fish. Shortly after, I watched the documentary A Plastic Ocean. I was horrified. That’s when I knew I had to take action, however inconsequential it might seem at first.”
Every effort counts.
She’s gone plastic-free, and for those who find it intimidating, she suggests a way to start: Don’t throw out your recycling until the end of the month.
“You’d be surprised at the rate at which it accumulates. Because of that, I became aware of the amount of trash I was generating, and that packaging is quite unnecessary,” she says, when asked what motivated her to buy less. She adds: “If you buy less, you save more money.”
Photography VERONICA TAY
Art Direction SHAN
Styling KARIN TAN
Hair & Makeup JYUE LOW/ THE MAKE UP ROOM
Outfit BIMBA Y LOLA
This article was first published in the magazine's April issue.