In the business of showing people how to live sustainably

Ms Anuja Aggarwal (left) and Ms Lara Rath, the founders of the Secondsguru.com platform, conduct sustainability workshops on topics such as home composting and food security in Singapore.
Ms Anuja Aggarwal (left) and Ms Lara Rath, the founders of the Secondsguru.com platform, conduct sustainability workshops on topics such as home composting and food security in Singapore.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

When Ms Lara Rath and Ms Anuja Aggarwal moved to Singapore, they looked for resources to help them live greener lifestyles.

The two women hail from India but became friends in Hong Kong before moving here, on separate occasions a few years ago, with their husbands and children.

They discovered that information about recycling in Singapore was scant and they had a hard time finding out where they could donate or repair items, or buy second-hand furniture.

So they scoured the island and began compiling the information they obtained on the Secondsguru.com website they founded.

After conducting sessions on environmental issues - such as talks on sustainable fashion - they realised that showing people how to live green could be a business.

Ms Lara, 43, gave up her career in private banking to start offering sustainability workshops full time with Ms Anuja, 42, a former financial journalist.

"Sustainability cannot just be a doom-and-gloom story," said Ms Lara. "People want to know what they can do to help."

Since 2018, the duo have conducted sessions on home composting, food security in Singapore and sustainable clothing choices, among other topics.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, many of their events had a hands-on component - visits to farms, a cookout with "ugly" locally sourced foods, beach clean-ups and even a fashion swop. The pandemic may have put the brakes on in-person events, but not on virtual tours, such as one they recently did to showcase the wildlife at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Both women are firm advocates of ground-up environmental action. They say that in Singapore, corporates and industries are "forced" to go green through legislation, but individuals need to be cajoled.

That is what they aim to do through their workshops and website, which they continue to update with tips on living green, such as how to cook with zero waste.

"You can have parks nearby and cycling paths around Singapore, but if individuals don't buy in, it's not going to be successful," said Ms Anuja.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2021, with the headline 'In the business of showing people how to live sustainably'. Subscribe