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Singaporeans open to sustainable fashion but won’t pay more: DBS survey

Clothes shopping may be one of Singaporeans’ favourite pastimes, but this hobby could be contributing negatively to climate change[1]. The inaugural ‘Conscious Fashion’ survey[2] by DBS revealed that 7 in 10 Singaporeans do not ensure that the clothes they buy are sustainably made and sourced.

This is even when 60% of respondents said they were aware that fashion is one of the largest contributors to pollution globally. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the global fashion industry produces 20% of global wastewater.

When asked to rank the main barriers to changing their consumption behaviour, cost (35%), followed by apathy (25%) and a lack of variety and style (18%) came up tops.

On a brighter note, the survey also found that if given the right nudge, 7 in 10 Singaporeans are open to recycling, swapping or upcycling their clothes to play their part in slowing climate change.

Continuing its effort to spark conversations and galvanise change around key sustainability issues, DBS today unveiled the fourth episode in the second season of its award-winning mini-series Sparks. The episode is inspired by REmakeHub, a social enterprise that provides circular solutions to address waste pollution in the fashion industry, and its founder 27-year old Sissi Chao. The story revolves around Team DBS trying to think of out-of-the-box financial solutions to support Chao[3], who is determined to make a lasting change in the fashion industry. The 13-minute episode was produced to encourage viewers to consider fashion purchases that are sustainably sourced and made.

With 7 in 10 Singaporeans buying new clothes at least once every six months, DBS has also created an augmented reality game ‘Fashion Slowdown’ to bring home the message that everyone can play a part in contributing to a more sustainable future, even by simply shopping less. The game can be played at this link –

Karen Ngui, Managing Director and Head of Group Strategic Marketing and Communications at DBS, said that even as the world grapples with the issue of climate change, small changes in behaviour can make a collective difference. “Each and every one of us has a responsibility to do our part, be it in big ways or small everyday ways, to reduce our carbon footprint. As an organisation that firmly believes in the importance of sustainability, we encourage our staff, our customers and the communities we operate in to reduce, reuse, recycle and adopt more socially-conscious, environmentally-friendly consumption habits.”

Since February 2019, DBS has also formed four sustainability interest groups which are focused on initiatives to reduce fashion, food, plastic and paper waste. These groups bring together like-minded employees from across the bank to drive key sustainability initiatives.

For example, to encourage more sustainable fashion choices among employees, DBS hosted its first-ever clothes swap event “Swap more, Shop less”​ at DBS Asia Central in March this year. More than 200 staff members participated and a total of over 200kg of clothing was collected, which is equivalent to saving more than 375,000 litres of water. “Swap more, Shop less” will be repeated this month so that employees can discover how sharing, recycling and conscious buying can help reduce not only their carbon footprint but also the cost of keeping their wardrobe up-to-date.

Episode Five of Sparks Season Two will be launched in early November with a focus on ageing and an innovative solution to help the elderly stay active.

[1] According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development , some 93 billion cubic metres of water – enough to meet the needs of five million people – is used by the fashion industry annually, and around half a million tons of microfibre, which is the equivalent of 3 million barrels of oil, is now being dumped into the ocean every year. UNCTAD estimates that every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. 

2 The DBS ‘Conscious Fashion’ survey conducted by YouGov interviewed 1,060 Singapore residents aged 18 years old and above on 10 and 11 October 2019.

3 Sabrina, the character inspired by Sissi Chao in episode four of Sparks Season Two, is played by Tess Pang.

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