Serving Water in Restaurants

Last night, we were at a Japanese place and there were wet tissues on our table. Uncle used one as it was there. The waitress counted the wet tissues we used and added it to our bill! We were so shocked, I told them they were sneaky and cheating people because it is not indicated that it is chargeable. Why keep it on the table if it not for free?! She told us we were the first people to complain about this and that every restaurant does this ha. I hate the sneaky ways restaurants here charge for everything from water to tissues and add it to your bill.

Another pet peeve of mine is (east) Asian restaurants don’t serve tap water to patrons and always charge you for it which I find ridiculous. I haven’t been charged for drinking plain water in restaurants in India/USA/Europe unless I specifically wished to buy bottled water. If tap water of a country is drinkable and affordable, why not serve for free? As if it’s not enough that they charge for it, they serve it in tiny glasses which have to be constantly refilled and the servers keep making you wait for it. God help you, if you badly need water.

Once, we went to a restaurant as a part of an office meeting. When I asked for water, they said they do not serve tap water. I asked them if they could take a glass and just fill from the sink tap, they plain refused because ‘it is not part of their policy’ and if you want you can only buy San Pellergrino water. Nothing else. I thought that was extremely snobbish and bloody wasteful to have water shipped all the way from Europe. Same with another Thai food chain. They used to serve free water. Then they started charging for it. Then, they stopped serving tap water. If one wants, they need to buy bottled water or nothing else.

It is such a snobbish and so environment unfriendly and I am always surprised when people defend this bullshit practice, much less support it.

The only saving grace is that Indian and western (if they are not run by east Asians) serve free water.

Does complaining about being charged 50 cents for water make you a cheap skate? Does drinking/serving only bottled water from Europe make you posh? Do people just accept this because it is a norm in these societies? Do they keep quiet to avoid confrontation? Do most people give a shit about the environment? (No, they don’t give a shit).

News: Air Pollution Kills 5 Million Death per Year

I was shocked to read that air pollution kills 5 million people/year and 1.4 million of those are from India! I knew China has a huge pollution problem and it is constantly discussed and at the forefront while in India this issue does not receive much attention save a few news articles once in a while. Do take note that this data is from 2014. Who knows the number of deaths has increased in the past 2 years.

We need to acknowledge the issue and do something about it. Another issue Indian needs to work on fast along with a dozen other problems *sigh* 

Review: Laundry Detergents

As I was gradually switching to more eco-friendly products in my beauty routine and home, I came across a post about a local natural brand – Idocare. I bought it once my laundry detergent ran out. 

Idocare Lavender Fields Concentrated Laundry Powder


I have been using Idocare laundry detergent since Aug 2013. I initially bought it online from their website but later discovered that is was available at a store nearby – Yes Natural where I now buy it.

Price: 12SGD for 1Kg. I used to purchase Attack which now costs about 10SGD for 2-3Kg.

Verdict: The detergent works well  in terms of cleaning side so far and I have no complaints. It lasts us quite a while maybe around 2-3 months. 

The only minor design detail that is not great is that each pack has 1 scoop inside and not outside the plastic bag. It is often always buried deep inside. So, you have to empty half of the bagt at least to get the scoop. That is okay if you are the sort who transfers the detergent to a different box. Usually, I open it and use a clip on the original bag. Therefore, I save the last pack’s scoop for reuse.

Secondly, the clothes come out unscented  or very mildly scented even if the detergent is lavender scent. This is great for babies with allergies.

The other day Uncle said that he was bored with our washed clothes smelling like nothing when conventional detergents smelled so good. He had a point.


Why does being eco-friendly mean not great smelling? 

I knew there had to be a solution because clean cosmetics did not smell great earlier and they have improved so much over the last few years.  

On the cost of eco friendly cleaners

Holy shit! Until I was looking up prices for this post,  I had conveniently blocked out the prices of conventional detergents because they are way cheaper. Why does being eco friendly have to be so expensive? Shouldn’t we be the ones getting more discounts because we are making earth friendly choices and choosing not to release too many toxins in the environment.

How can we encourage more people to switch to earth friendly alternatives when it is so expensive?

So much for those who claim switching to a natural lifestyle ‘saved them lots of money’ hmph.

Zum Clean Laundry Soap – frankincense & myrhh

I scouted  local supermarket websites and iHerb for laundry detergents. I came across Zum Clean Laundry Soap on iHerb. It had the best reviews in terms of the scent though some complained that it was too diluted recently. I chose the frankincense & myrhh scent because I have tried the Zum soap with the same scent and it smells awesome. This scent is almost always out of stock and I purchased it the moment it was in stock.

Price:18SGD (ouch!)  for 900mL. It is quite expensive in my opinion considering when I can get 2 litres of conventional laundry detergent for 6SGD.

When I received the package, I was so disappointed. When  I saw the photos, I visualized a large can of detergent like the conventional ones but it was a thin tiny can.


Do note that the detergent can be a bit messy to pour out of the can. They recommended using 8 capfuls for a full load in a top loading machine. So, we used about 4 caps for half a load and clearly we overdid it.

Next time onwards, we started using 1.5 caps for a full load + 1/2 scoop of Idocare laundry powder and this combinations works well in terms of smell and costs.

Note: Companies always recommend you to use double the amount of what you actually need so that you will use their products faster and buy more. Applies literally to everything form detergents to face washes. Do not listen to them. 

Verdict: Our clothes smell so good that we love it. They smell great for days afterwards just like conventional detergents. It cleans well too. Overall, it was worth the price tag but I feel it could be cheaper. 

It is my laundry detergent nirvana (mixed with another powder) at the moment!

Other laundry detergents

I feel iHerb does not have a broad range of laundry detergents at the moment. The other day, I checked Cold Storage and was surprised with their wide range. More options to check out in the future!

Notes on laundry usage and cleaning

  1. The reviews are based on laundry usage for 2 adults with no kids.
  2. A typical full load of clothes in our case generally consists of  3-4 western dresses, 1-2 tops, 1-2 men’s shirts, undies, socks, 1-3 hand towels, 1-2 towels,1 bedsheet and 1-2 pillow covers.
  3. My clothes do not get as dirty as it did when I was in India because overall, everything is cleaner. I do not know how these detergents will perform in dustier environments.
  4. We don’t have any kid related messes either. I really do not know these will perform in those cases.
  5. We wash our clothes in room temperature water and do not use hot water.
  6. We use a top loading machine and line dry the clothes. I am not sure if using a dryer would take away some of Zum’s scent.

On finding a refill

My pen ran out of ink the other day and I did not throw it away because I wanted to buy a refill. Why generate more plastic waste by throwing away pens right? However, I could not find a single refill in any of the books or stationary shops. They all had pens but no refills. In the end, I had to buy pens because they simply don’t sell refills. So much for being environment friendly. 

As much so many of us advocate individual action to drive environmental change, some most of it is quite difficult or plain inconvenient without the corresponding change in policies. How many businesses really want to change unless forced to? 

Are fast fashion clothes really cheaply made?

I recently read Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline. It made me aware of the environmental impact of our clothes consumption and provided great insights in how our discarded clothes are processed. However, I found recurring statements of how all fast fashion clothes are cheap and tear apart at their seams after one wash  or two a total exaggeration made just to support the author’s points against fast fashion.

I believe that it is not clothes from fast fashion that are the problem but rather the rate at which we consume them which is the issue.

So, what are the alternatives if fast fashion clothes are so poorly made? Invest $500 every single time I need or want some piece of clothing? Many people clearly cannot afford that and I do not wish to waste my money like that. I do not like thrifting and buying other people’s clothes and there aren’t many good thrifting options in Asia.

I do not think that fast fashion clothes are the only ones made cheaply and that higher end branded stuff are constructed in a much better fashion. Maybe in some aspects but overall there is not much difference in terms of cloth quality. Branded stuff is overpriced just because of the brand. Also, so many high-end brands manufacture mostly in China which is also what fast fashion chains do.

I am actually happy that fast fashion exists because it makes clothing affordable for all. However it is a tad annoying that I cannot find something I liked 2 weeks later because they changed their inventory. 

Most of my clothes are from fast fashion chains mentioned in the book – Uniqlo, H&M, Old Navy, Target and the likes. I do agree that there are some clothes that are flimsily made but I do not buy those.

Almost all of the clothes I have bought from these stores have easily lasted me well over 2 years and some are still in use. 

A lot of them cost me less than $30, some even less than $15. People would naturally take better care of stuff they spent $500 on than they would of something  they spend $20 on. I do not see why I should turn up my nose at perfectly good clothes just because they are fast fashion. None of the high-end brands are into supporting environment or being ethical but into classism and snobbishness – things I do not want to support. 

Also, if you were to check out Greenpeace’s Detox the Catwalk Campaign, you would observe that it is the high-end brands that are not into moving towards ethical fashion.

At the same time, my purchasing habits are an anomaly because I lean towards minimalism. I mainly buy new clothes when I go to the USA (Hello Target and Old Navy) or India and not so often here unless I need something specific or find something I really love. So, in a way I support fast fashion stores but I don’t buy things all the time and really don’t follow trends.

I am getting tired of all these anti-fast-fashion advocates harping on how clothes fall apart in 1 or 2 wears because they do not.  I have known some expensive Italian shoes (Salvatore Ferragamo) falling apart within months as well.

My $10 shoes from Target lasted me well over 1.5 years until they wore off. My $30 wallet lasted me well over 3 years. It is not always you get what you pay for. Why the hell would I spend $2000 on a Prada wallet unless I want to be “seen” with a particular brand and appear snobbish elite when Prada also makes its stuff in China. 

You want to be ethical in purchasing clothes? Buy less and research on ethical clothing companies. However, do not beat yourself up if you can only afford clothes from fast fashion chains because they aren’t that bad when chosen well.

The view from the library

This is the view from one of the reading rooms in the library. It is so beautiful, peaceful & soothing, I feel meditative when I look at it.


Why would anyone want to destroy this?

The view from the library
The view from the library

Sadly, I doubt this prime piece of empty land will remain green in the future because concrete buildings are a “better use of land” & more profitable 😦  

The story of my water bottles

I almost always carry a water bottle when I go out as

1. I need a lot of water. I am irritable if I have not had water from some time!

2. Water is not available everywhere

3. It can be expensive to buy water

4. I do not want to drink sugary drinks instead of water

5. It is environment unfriendly to buy so many plastic water bottles

When I was young, I remember having a huge collection of plastic water bottles in different shapes like robot, military tanks with straps. We had many and used very few.

Something like this but not this one!

By the time I was in high school and in college,  I was using those plastic plain water bottles or recycling those  empty soft drinks bottles.

I had a brown rectangular one  in high school. Then something like this

Then I got an aluminium blue water bottle from my family and I was using it for another period of time.

It has a loop in the bottle cap to hold it using your finger. One day, I was holding it that way and this water bottle full of water fell straight on my foot. It hurt. Hunt on for a new bottle.

I was not into plastic water bottles anymore, because of pollution as well as all the chemicals that leached into my water. I looked around for steel water bottles because they are so much more sturdy than aluminium ones and discovered Klean Kanteen. I got this on my birthday for myself 2.5 years ago.

64oz Wide Bottle

Yup, 1.8 L and not those screw caps. This seemed sturdier and a wide mouth for easier cleaning. At that time there was only one shop that sold Klean Kanteen in Singapore and I traveled for over an hour to get there and buy it from Kool Depot.

2L is too much to carry right? Though I did carry it while travelling. If I was in uni, I had a water bottle at my desk which I used if I was going somewhere in the evening. This was poorly designed, so mostly  I used it like a steel glass for drinking as I usually had access to water filters. So, I barely used my large bottle.

One day The Uncle found another 0.8L Klean Kanteen bottle in the university. He took it and cleaned it very well ( it was full of some tea which had rotten for days and smelled bad) and decided to use it. But then, he is not a water bottle carrying kind of person. And it comes to me 🙂

27oz Klean Kanteen Bottle
This is the exact one I have now. The colour is more orange though

I use both of my water bottles at home now to store water in my room and take them out if  I need.

Lately, I had been feeling the need to carry a light small water bottle in my bag for small trips outside and did not find anything suitable.

Uncle had bought an insulated bottle but  it is heavy because it is insulated. I do not need insulated 99% of the time. So, I never borrowed it.

Product Preview
Exactly this

Thought I would use a plastic bottle because it is the smallest and the lightest. An acquaintance bought me this because they were also using plastic water bottles.

Buy Lock & Lock 300 ml Water Bottle: Water Bottle
I had this one ditto

I used it for 2 weeks but then I remembered why I do not use plastic water bottles anymore  and mainly because the bottle smelled weird and I did not like it. I threw it away in less than 2 weeks.

Then I bought this cute little 300 mL bottle recently and it is always in my bag now – empty or full 🙂

12oz Klean Kanteen Water Bottle
My bottle cap is black though

That is my water bottle story.

I often wonder, when we use so much of steel utensils in India, why in the world can we not find steel water bottles in India? – They are nice, sturdy, last long and  environment friendly.

So what are the steel water bottle brands I know?

Klean Kanteen – Not recommended for school kids though unless they are careful. You will get heart broken every time they lose one because they are expensive. My personal favorite for their range and quality.

Bros water bottles – Decently priced. They have both aluminum and steel bottles but a limited range.

Sigg – Pretty famous and well known more for aluminium bottles and they do not have a good selection of steel water bottles which are the best. I never had one though they do have good designs. And then aluminium water bottles may be lined with BPA which is not good. They are expensive and I would rather pay more for steel than aluminium.