We speak to Daniel Yeow, Founder of The Social Space, on electric cars, sustainability as well as how organisations should approach it.
Q: Do you see yourself buying an electric car?
Yes, I think so. Maybe not immediately, but I think if electric cars are made more accessible. With electric cars that can cover all ranges, from a luxury high-performance car all the way to your family sedan and if it was a reasonable price, I think I would. But there would also be concerns with the availability of charging ports and if it wasn’t available, how then can we charge, and how long would it take to charge your car?
Q: But where do you think we are as a nation when it comes to sustainability?
I think we’re improving, we’ve improved, there’s a lot more that can be done, but what the government is doing, what organisations are doing, there’s a lot more focus being placed on sustainability.
And when I say sustainability I don’t mean just caring for the environment, tackling climate change and environmental degradation, but things like poverty, improving the lives of people in general and helping communities.
I think a lot more is being done, for example, encouraging more individuals to use electric vehicles, for example, they have introduced things like lower tax rates or first-time owner grants to make it more accessible. This is really more than just talking the talk, it’s really walking the way.
Q: Talk about technology and innovation, sitting in this car right now, this MINI electric, it’s crazy how so much technology is put into this one car that’s also compact and there is no compromise when it comes to driving quality and the experience. So how important do you think technology and innovation are when it comes to fighting the climate crisis?
If you think about how technology has evolved? That boom in technology led to certain climate changes, there were some quite negative consequences towards the climate with carbon emissions and the likes.
I think now that we are moving forward, the emphasis has to be placed on the environment. So for example, even things like how food waste is managed.
I do think that technology has a big, big part to play and needs to be developed in a very responsible manner but I think a lot of thought in this current day and age is being put in towards how technology is developed.
Q: The BMW Group are committing to a more sustainable future by ramping up the production of their electric cars and such, and they are projected to sell 4.6 million electric cars in the next 10 years. Why do you think it’s important for organisations, whether big or small, to actually push for more eco-friendly products?
I think a lot of the demand is driven by consumers. So I think that in general, consumers are becoming more aware and a lot more conscious about what they’re buying, not just the product they’re buying, but the lifestyle that they’re buying.
It’s very important organisations and government bodies come on board to support the cause. I think fighting climate change is not just an individual responsibility, but a collective one.
It’s what we try and encourage with our store as well, it’s about making small consistent steps towards change, encouraging change.
Q: It’s definitely about the long game, and I think when we think about organizations, we hear, a lot of people say, we want to see the big boys do it first. But a lot of the time, we see the smaller players start first, and then that almost gives the bigger companies the impetus to actually say okay, I think we can actually do this. So do you have any experience with The Social Space in that aspect?
I think sustainability is still quite niche, the idea of our business is built around all things sustainable. We contribute not just towards the betterment of environments, but even the community and social causes, so it’s a movement.
You start something small first, and when people notice and people see that, hey, there is some demand, hopefully, more come on board and small things, I believe, lead to much bigger things and yeah, that’s our dream, that’s our vision.
Q: This topic about greenwashing, now with more people talking about it, I think there’s a good number of people who really know what’s going on but a good number of people will also just loosely use the term and throw it around, so how do you educate consumers on making sure that they’re supporting a company that is truthful to their message and not just greenwashing?
You mentioned a very important aspect of our business, which is education. To give you an example, if a corporation were to come up to me and say, hey, we want to buy 2000 straws. I would actually ask them what for, and if they were to tell me that, oh, it’s meant to be given as a door gift, I would actually refuse the sale.
The idea behind it is that I think it’s about end-users making that conscious choice to change their habits, whether it is to use a reusable straw or to stop taking plastic bags, but by giving it as a gift then it kind of defeats the purpose, right?
For me, I don’t even use a straw, but we sell straws because it’s an option for individuals. While giving an eco-friendly gift is better than the gift not being eco-friendly, but to what point and is gifting really that necessary, especially if it’s going to be, for example, a lucky draw. Do you want to give a metal straw as a lucky draw prize? I think those are opportunities for us to educate. We wouldn’t want to be supporting corporates that are giving it just because they want to appear green, right?
Q: What else do you do in your daily life to lead a more low-impact lifestyle?
I think you hit the nail on the head, it’s a low impact lifestyle. I think the main thing is about living simply. As consumers, we have a choice in terms of choosing to support businesses that share the same values. It’s also a form of encouragement for smaller businesses trying to do their part for whether it’s the community or environment
This content is brought to you in collaboration with BMW Asia.