Sustainable travel is easier said than done. From over-tourism to a carbon footprint, even with today’s advancements, we can’t always achieve a carbon-zero trip everywhere we go. Although, countries are taking big steps toward promoting sustainable tourism, working with governments, operators, and individuals, to help travellers visiting a destination find sustainable options. One such country that is leading the race in sustainable travel, is Singapore.
Unquestionably, Singapore is one of the world’s cleanest cities. Although when you enforce a no-chewing gum rule across the country, it’s expected. Not only will you find the streets litter-free, but public toilets and bus stops—usually the grungiest of places in other countries—are sparkling clean. This is mainly because, in 1968, Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew launched an inaugural Keep Singapore Clean campaign, which its successors continue to this day. It’s also a $ 2,000 USD fine for littering, so no one dares to drop a wrapper on the street. The city manages waste efficiently, which is why you won’t see or smell it on the streets.
A large portion of Singapore’s waste is disposed of through waste-to-energy programmes. What happens is that the waste is first collected from garbage bins and taken to the waste-to-energy facilities for incineration. About 90% of solid waste is reduced during incineration, and the heat energy is recovered to make electricity.
Singapore, sometimes referred to as A City in a Garden, is renowned for its greenspace. More than 40% of Singapore’s land is covered in greenery, with a tree canopy percentage of almost 30%, making it one of the greenest cities in the world. From lush pedestrian bridges to green walls on high rises, Singapore injects lush plant life anywhere it can.
It’s no wonder Singapore has become the world’s first country to be certified as a sustainable destination based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)’s Destination Criteria, after being the first to apply the certification process on a country level. This reflects Singapore’s efforts and commitment to becoming a sustainable urban destination.
So, what is the GSTC? Well, the GSTC Criteria are the global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, and Singapore was certified based on its performance in four pillars: sustainable management, socio-economic sustainability, cultural sustainability and environmental sustainability
The certification is just one component of Singapore’s Tourism Sustainability Strategy, which launched in 2022. By 2030, Singapore hopes to achieve long-term net-zero emissions, which you can read about in the Singapore Green Plan 2030.
Planning a trip to Singapore? Here’s where you can stay, eat, and play with a green thumb.
Having claimed the title of ‘Asia’s Leading Green Hotel’ for the past seven years and nominated again for 2023, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering boasts a hotel-in-a-garden concept that is instantly noticeable from its exterior of green foliage and mini-waterfalls. Inside the hotel, eco-friendly practices are followed which include; one of the world’s first zero-energy sky gardens that are maintained exclusively by gravity-driven rainwater irrigation and solar energy, photo sensors to monitor light levels, and even a seasonal plant-based menu for hotel guests.
One of the principal guidelines at the Mandarin Oriental is ‘acting with responsibility’, which the hotel strives to achieve through its Naturally Better Program. The hotel greatly reduces its single-use plastic by providing guests with glass water bottles, removing individual shampoo, conditioner and shower gel bottles and replacing them with mounted wall dispensers, and featuring eco-friendly dental kits in hotel rooms. The hotel also has a bio-digester on the premises to convert food waste into grey water.
Guests can opt for the Cycle For More accommodation package which aims to encourage guests to embark on an eco-friendly, energising, and exciting exploration of the Lion City by bicycle.
Sitting in the heart of the central business district and Marina Bay, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay is the country’s first ‘Garden-in-a-Hotel’. The hotel is home to one of Southeast Asia’s largest indoor sky-lit atrium, containing over 2,400 plants, trees, shrubs and groundcovers from more than 60 varieties of flora spread across 15,000 square feet of space throughout.
The JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach is located centrally in the Marina Bay District. The hotel boasts a number of green incentives including, a 280-metre-long microclimatic canopy that harvests rainwater and converts solar energy to electricity, all while creating a pleasant, naturally ventilated shelter for guests beneath it.
Analogue is a pint-sized sustainable restaurant and bar, where even the cups and tables are made from recycled materials, including mushrooms in the alfresco dining area. The venue sheds light on issues of food sustainability through its entirely plant-based menu – a first of its kind in Singapore. Stop in for an inventive cocktail list that focuses on ingredients whose future is in danger, including chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. It uses carob instead of chocolate, chicory instead of coffee and tonka bean instead of vanilla. Analogue is a highlight in Singapore and should be on your list.
Challenging the notion of ‘perfect’ looking food, Kausmo operates with a clear intent; “to promote thoughtful living by challenging food norms that bring about unnecessary wastage”. Their menu of modern European cuisine utilises ‘odd looking’ fruits and vegetables, native plants, sustainably sourced seafood and secondary cuts of meat.
This award-winning vegan burger shop is redefining food pop culture and comfort food. Expect everything from plant-protein ‘crab’ patties to avocado beetroot burgers. Even if you’re not vegan, this is not one to miss.
Apart from being a magical wonderland, Gardens by the Bay also functions as an environmental powerhouse. The colourful Supertrees you’ve seen all over Instagram are filled with over 158,000 plants that help to offset the city’s carbon emissions. Some of the trees are also equipped to collect rainwater in reservoirs, which then feed back to the plants in the park. Others contain photo-voltaic cells to generate solar energy and exhaust air from the conservatories.
Are you looking for a kayak adventure? Kayak tour group Kayakasia offers travellers a chance to experience Singapore in ways ‘only accessible by kayaks’—leaving a minimal carbon footprint on the environment. Kayak tours include exploring the mangroves in Sungei Simpang, the rivers on Pulau Ubin, and even the Kusu-Lazarus Islands trail.
The Rail Corridor is a 24km long passage connecting major green spaces across Singapore, allowing wildlife to freely move between spaces. The pathway is not lit at night to facilitate the nocturnal wildlife, but during the day, visitors can walk the rail corridor for a breath of fresh air in nature.