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T Picks: Mindful Things You Can Buy From Home to Help Make a Change

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore


Shopping, even online, during a pandemic seems wrong. The pathogen’s unprecedented Grand Tour has taken lives the world over. People are losing their jobs. The idea of purchasing non-essential things then might seem unnecessarily self-indulgent.

But it’s also a fundamental part of our economy.

The absence of customers is hard on all companies. For small businesses, though, it could be catastrophic. Like many other cities around the world, local restaurants and retailers in Singapore operate leanly, with tight profit margins and just enough people on staff. Bars and theatres have shuttered, leisure activities are strictly limited. During these uncertain times, slow business is inevitable.

So while we are doing our part by staying at home, there are things we can do to help: Mindful shopping is one. Where you spend your money matters. Before you buy, think: What is this about? It could be about helping save a generation of small designers and independent businesses.

As struggling businesses are taking it virtual to connect to those avoiding the crowd, deliveries can be a lifeline for many. Here, T’s editorial team selects some things you can purchase from several independent ventures to elevate your stay-at-home experience while at the same time, betting on a better future.

“Ugly” Produce to Stockpile in Your Fridge

UglyFoodUglyFood’s sorbet popsicles.
UglyFood’s sorbet popsicles.

Cosmetic filtering is one of the leading culprits of food waste in Singapore. Basing it solely on external appearance, the highly selective process determines whether an article of fresh produce is fit for merchandising in stores. But the Singapore-based team at UglyFood disrupts this age-old practice directly along the food supply chain, procuring ugly fresh produce — otherwise discarded — from wholesalers, importers, distributors and wet market stall owners. Currently, UglyFood is repurposing perfectly edible “ugly” produce into fresh groceries (available at discounted prices via treatsure), cold-pressed juices, fruit bowls (both available for bulk orders via its online store) and sorbet popsicles (available via Redmart). — Terence Poh

A Kit to Kickstart Your Urban Garden

Super FarmersSuper Farmers’ Urban Farming Kits.
Super Farmers’ Urban Farming Kits.

There’s no better time to test out your green fingers, as we slowly — but surely — grasp the responsible practice of safe distancing. With its Urban Farming Kit, homegrown wellness company Super Farmers is making it easy for anyone to cultivate their own greens. The design of the small convertible container fits smaller living spaces. For those who had struggled with gardening projects in the past, this could be the easy fool-proof highway into growing greens at home. — Michelle Kok

Ethically Made Organic Cotton Bedsheets for Better Sleep 

SojaoSojao’s ‘Forest’ bedsheet set.
Sojao’s ‘Forest’ bedsheet set.

Sustainability has never been a bigger part of our lives, and there’s no better time for us to start incorporating it into our lifestyle and homes. And now as we start to spend more time at home and in bed, the importance of good sleep and comfort is felt more than ever. While browsing on Instagram, I chanced upon Sojao, a Singaporean bedsheet brand that champions ethical and environmentally conscious production, and fell immediately in love with its beautiful range of bedsheet colours (particularly the forest green and dark navy). Made with organic cotton via sustainable organic farming methods, Sojao’s sheets are luxuriously comfortable to sleep in, promising better longer sleep. — Jack Wang

Fresh Pasta Kits to Cook at Home

Pasta BarPasta Bar’s hand-cut tagliatelle (left) and rigatonni (right) cook-at-home packs.
Pasta Bar’s hand-cut tagliatelle (left) and rigatonni (right) cook-at-home packs.

Avid home cooks in Singapore would be delighted to hear that Pasta Bar — the family-style Italian restaurant at Keong Saik — has introduced home delivery services for its fresh pasta. The options include taglioni, rigatoni and tagliatelle, all handmade on the same day. A ready-to-bake lasagna is also ready to step in as the comfort food you and your family can look forward to having at home. — Bianca Husodo 

A Subscription to Health-Boosting Probiotics

SeedSeed’s Daily Synbiotic.
Seed’s Daily Synbiotic.

There is a community of over 38 trillion microorganisms (mostly bacteria) living in a human body, majority colonised in the gut which forms the foundation of one’s immune system. Launched in 2018, Seed sought to open up a conversation about microbiome science to improve the cycle of the human body and planet Earth’s ecosystem. Available in a monthly subscription, the daily synbiotic pills include clinically-studied probiotics strains that improve the integrity of overall body function beyond the gastrointestinal system — packaged and delivered in upcycled decomposer materials that are not just Earth-friendly, but leaves a beneficial footprint. — Lynette Kee

A Cinema Seat to “Adopt”

The ProjectorThe Projector’s vintage cinema seats.
The Projector’s vintage cinema seats.

Last week, new pre-emptive measures were imposed on entertainment venues in Singapore. Local cinemas were among those that had to shut its doors. The Projector, the city’s only arthouse cinema, announced that it would be closed until the end of April (“Gahment say, we do.”). It’s tough times indeed, but there are several ways we can do to keep the indie screening venue alive. When The Projector took over the two ’70s era cinema halls of Golden Theatre at Golden Mile Tower in 2015, it decided to keep their original fold-up seating structure. To help tide through the no-revenue days, the team recently introduced ‘Adopt-a-Seat’. For S$120, you can have your name, or whatever text you like, stencilled and immortalised on one of the vintage seats. — Bianca Husodo

Jumpers and Cardigans to Snuggle in

HadesHades’ knit sweaters.
Hades’ knit sweaters.

English knitwear house Hades works with a family-run manufacturer in Hawick, Scotland and only uses high quality materials like pure fibres and yarn in its wool cardigans and sweaters because it believes it in making products that will last for years. Some of their iconic pieces include their alphabet knits, and their Greek Mythology cardigans that feature 3D printed buttons of Greek gods. These are whimsical but quality pieces that will not become disposable items in your wardrobe. — Renée Batchelor

A Toy Kit to Keep Your Pet Active

Wild OneWild One’s Bolt Bite chew toy.
Wild One’s Bolt Bite chew toy.

The simple joys of gifting are often thoroughly elevated when it is for your dearest four-legged companionWild One’s curated toy kit consists of three engaging components for dogs to tug, toss and chew (each one appropriately named Triangle Tug, Twist Toss and Bolt Bite). Made with 100 per cent natural rubber (BPA-free) and organic cotton, each toy is designed with a reinforced rubber centre for added durability, and minimal design features in four colourways to balance aesthetics and functionality — and, of course, to match your handsome dog friend. — Lynette Kee

Nifty Stoneware Suited to the Slow Life

Courtesy of Eat & SipMatilda Chambers’ clay egg tray.
Matilda Chambers’ clay egg tray.

As slow living increasingly finds its place our fast-paced lives, we too should lend the support for independent artisans to continue their craft. Drawing inspiration from her surroundings of the lush Australian landscapes, potter Matilda Chambers’ ceramic tableware lend a curious appeal to our homes – like the egg tray here that could double as a jewellery or accessory holder. — Michelle Kok

A Cold-Pressed Juice Detox

Gorilla PressGorilla Press’ cold-pressed juices.
Gorilla Press’ cold-pressed juices.

Cold-pressed juices could be the easiest and most refreshing way to boost your immunity. A subscription of Gorilla Press’s juices would get you six glass bottles of them delivered weekly to your doorstep. The juices are packed with superfoods, and are niftily labelled according to the order of how they should be consumed. A la carte options are available too. — Tung Pham

Books, Furniture and Vintage Collectibles

Cat SocratesCat Socrates’ ceramic plant pots.
Cat Socrates’ ceramic plant pots.

At both its two Singapore stores, one tucked within Bras Basah Complex and the other nestled in a row of shophouses along Joo Chiat Road, Cat Socrates is an immersive space chock-full of feline merchandise, quirky vintage items and books by underground writers. Each store, a quaint universe of its own, allows for intimate browsing against a soundtrack of indie musicians, under the watch of a resident cat. You might not be visiting the stores soon, but you can still support independent artists and small local businesses by shopping on their online store that is currently running a 20% discount on selected items. — Terence Poh

Jewellery That Helps the Frontliners

Ariel GordonAriel Gordon’s ‘Zodiac’ dog tag necklace.
Ariel Gordon’s ‘Zodiac’ dog tag necklace.

Los Angeles-based jeweller Ariel Gordon makes beautiful, wearable jewellery in 14k gold. Her zodiac line looks like old school dog tag necklaces and comes with a 20-inch Singapore foxtail chains that gives it a ’70s vibe. Besides offering 25% off storewide during this period, the brand is also donating US$25 from each sale to Doctors Without Borders. — Renée Batchelor

An Indulgent Clay Cleansing Bar to Wash Your Hands With

SansceuticalSansceutical’s cleansing clay bars.
Sansceutical’s cleansing clay bars.

The daily ritual of hand washing is one easy form of self-care (now ever more so during the Covid-19 pandemic). At Sanceuticals, a French clay cleansing bar made with full formulation transparency and highest quality of ingredients offers a luxury experience next to personal hygiene — like the feeling of indulgence showering using your favourite shower gel. Using all-natural ingredients, Sanceuticals’ bar soap nourishes skin while keeping its delicate pH and moisture intact. The soap is cut straight from the mould so each one differs from another in terms of shape and texture. Better yet, all skincare products from the brand are made without animal testing, artificial colours and other harmful additives. — Lynette Kee