Her environment shaped her to shape the environment: Joline’s journey in The Sustainability Project
contributed by Preston
While her accountancy mates in polytechnic were busy doing up balance sheets on paper, 17-year-old Joline Tang was counting a different sum. She was concerned after seeing her classmates use only one side of their paper, and would collect their unused sheets to reduce waste.
“I would bring them back home, and I even introduced a recycling system in my family!” she recalled with amusement.
With an interest in the environment, Joline initially wanted to further her studies in environmental science after graduation but ended up enrolling in Accountancy at Singapore Management University instead.
Still, her passion for the environment was not extinguished.
She joined the environmental club SMU Verts, and also interned at two companies working on sustainability issues. One was a startup dealing with biodegradable and compostable packaging, while the other was a Big 4 accounting firm handling sustainability reporting.
With her growing exposure to the sustainability realm and interest in writing, Joline started a blog on sustainability matters in her third year at SMU in 2017, calling it The Sustainability Project (TSP).
(Interestingly, it was in the same year that treatsure was first launched in the App Store, initially collaborating with 10 F&B merchants like bakeries with surplus food!)
It was an exchange programme to Norway thereafter that charted the course of TSP.
“I was really inspired by their zero-waste lifestyle and how they love nature. Sustainability is a way of life for the Norwegians,” admitted Joline.
Hoping to promote sustainable living in Singapore, Joline then toyed with the idea of bringing in some sustainable products from overseas when she returned. TSP then expanded to selling sustainability merchandise at events and running sustainability workshops for corporations.
That same year, the paths of TSP and treatsure crossed at a Clean and Green Carnival event organised by the National Environment Agency (NEA). The two booths were pretty close to each other, and the founders struck their first conversation which began a friendship in the nascent sustainability space.
“I remember first learning about treatsure’s buffet-in-a-box and felt it was a meaningful solution to tackle the large amount of buffet wastage! I introduced the app to my cousin who tried packing a box at one of your hotels and she liked it,” related Joline to Preston, cofounder of treatsure.
2018 was considerably early days in the sustainability movement, and not much was discussed or highlighted about sustainability then.
But over the past two years, there has evidently been a greater discussion on sustainability on social media. Joline recollected viral videos of ocean plastic pollution and ground-up sustainability initiatives by youths, alongside corporate action.
“We also saw more green businesses and bigger brands supporting sustainability. I recall Starbucks started to bring in collapsible cups,” shared Joline.
The government, meanwhile, designated 2018 the Year of Climate Action and 2019 the Year Towards Zero Waste, and began intensifying public education efforts.
When asked what her greatest joy was in this journey, Joline shared that it was the growth in exposure and recognition given to sustainability, as well as the impact TSP had made on the broader community.
“We managed to inspire others to go for bare packaging for their merchandise, instead of the prevailing trend of creating nice packaging as a form of marketing,” Joline beamed with joy.
TSP also rolled out an “Imperfects” line of merchandise with defects, such as a dente metal straw that still could be used. Response has been positive too by consumers.
With the proliferation of sustainable merchandise businesses (Joline estimated there were at least 40 of them in Singapore!), TSP continues to stay true to its roots with minimal packaging and its mission in sustainability education through the blog and its social media.
In July 2020, TSP and treatsure took a step towards greater collaboration. Users can now purchase sustainable products on the treatsure app in their move towards zero-waste living, and get it delivered to them on top of their saved grocery food items.
Many of the products listed by TSP complement treatsure’s surplus grocery purchases. The beeswax wrap and the Stasher bags, for instance, could keep food fresh and preserve their lifespan to reduce food wastage.
“I hope more people could know about our brands, and discover zero waste lifestyles”, mused Joline.
That is our wish too at treatsure.
And we believe the path ahead for sustainability will be a long yet rewarding one.
TSP is now available on the treatsure app and you could order their items to complement your grocery purchases with us, and we’ll get it delivered to you!