My Bag

Proudly toting an eco message

Eco-friendly Mandopop singer Tay Kewei carries with her a pair of chopsticks and a water bottle, and raises awareness of climate change through her music as well

Home-grown singer-songwriter Tay Kewei is green and proud of it.

She carries her own non-disposable water bottle and brings a pair of chopsticks along with her when she goes out.

"To me, not using disposable plastics is such a small thing that I can do. So why not do it?" says the Nanyang Technological University graduate.

For the 33-year-old, being environmentally friendly goes beyond recycling. Her inclinations show up in her music as well.

Tay's debut album in 2010, for instance, includes Plastic Mannequin Love, a song with an eco message.

"I wrote the song after I found out about the Great Pacific garbage patch," says Tay, referring to a concentration of marine debris in the central North Pacific Ocean.

Eco-friendly Mandopop singer Tay Kewei ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Speaking to The Straits Times last month, the laid-back musician says she wrote the love song about nine years ago after she was inspired by a photograph.

"I saw a picture of the garbage patch online and spotted a mannequin head floating amid the debris. I was inspired and the love song is about one mannequin waiting for another to join him on this island of floating trash," says Tay, who is married to local singer Alfred Sim.

The Mandopop singer explains that the song is about how the mannequin's love is going to last forever as plastic does not decompose.

And of course, it also addresses the harm plastic waste has on the environment, she says.

"I was appalled when I first found out about the garbage patch. Everyone contributes to this problem, but no one is solving it. We are such a fast-moving society that we really don't pay attention to the amount of trash we create," she adds.

Tay performs regularly at Earth Hour events, including last year's concert at The Float@Marina Bay, to raise awareness of climate change.

It has been a long road for the popular singer.

She was a back-up singer for a couple of years, singing at the gigs of top stars such as Taiwanese pop singer A-mei and Chinese-American musician Wang Leehom, before releasing her debut album Come Closer With... Kewei in 2010.

In 2014, she performed at the National Day Parade.

Last year was a busy one for the musician. She held a concert at the Esplanade, attracting more than 750 fans. Her last ticketed show was in 2009.


  • It is from an Italian brand called Save My Bag. It is shaped like the famous Hermes Birkin bag and made from a soft foam material that is light and washable. I love the fluorescent colour because it really stands out. The bag is roomy, too, so it is great for all the things I need to carry.

"That was a milestone for me because, before that, I'd never done such a huge ticketed show," says the multitalented musician, who plays the erhu, guitar, ukulele and piano. She also sings in Mandarin, English, Japanese and Korean.

She is looking forward to her next album.

"We are at the beginning stages, just thinking about what the songs should be like, what the concept is. The album doesn't have a deadline yet, but it will probably be out in the later half of the year."

The singer hopes that her recent travels and nature activities will give her inspiration.

She was in Hong Kong recently and went cycling outside the city with friends.

She also travelled with her husband last month to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where they spent time trekking and went up a volcano. The couple do not have children.

"Hopefully, now I can settle back into work and condense all of that play time, distil it into something tangible for the album. It could be different sounds or different stories," she says.

Things in her bag


This is a customised cream that is formulated specially for my skin. They take your DNA sample and, from there, prescribe a skincare set to address your particular skin issues. I have oily skin and this cream helps to hydrate it so that it produces less oil.


I use this to touch up my make-up throughout the day. I like that it suits my skin tone and makes it look brighter.


I've been using my own water bottle for many years. I used to carry a plastic non-disposable one, but such bottles can produce toxins over time, so I recently changed it to this glass bottle. I use it with a cute silicone bottle holder so that it doesn't slip when I hold it.


The chopsticks can be dismantled into halves, making them easier to carry. I love eating sushi, so I use these often. I want to create less trash, so I prefer these to disposable chopsticks.


This was given to me by a fan for my birthday last year. I love the Japanese cartoon characters, Little Twin Stars. It is small and compact and very sweet. I generally like sweet, pink and pastel things.


I got this from Japan when I was there on holiday last year. I keep some lozenges in it in case I need something to soothe my throat.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'Proudly toting an eco message'. Print Edition | Subscribe