Yumika Hoskin
Photo: Courtesy of Yumika Hoskin

Yumika Hoskin always had a passion for the environment. Ever since her move from Melbourne to Singapore in the hopes of paving a career in the sector of hosting, she soon began to realise that it was also the opportune time to step up and do her part in the areas of sustainability and conservation.

Driven by this pursuit, the model-host-actress started out by advocating for environmental causes on her social media platforms, educating viewers in her own eco-tourism series Where We Wander and soon after, launched her homegrown brand Peco Bag exactly a year ago.

In celebration of both Earth Day and Peco Bag’s 1st Anniversary, we caught up with the girl boss who gives us a peek into how she got started, her everyday routine and more.

Related article: Arizona Muse Is Opening Up Her Wardrobe In Support Of Sustainable Fashion

1. How did you begin your journey of eco-conscious living?

I always loved nature growing up in Australia and I suppose it was a slow awakening to consciousness, over how individual choices and actions impact our environment. We were blind to it for so long until it started to show up in our favourite places. You can’t go to any beach anymore without having rubbish wash onto you from the waves or waste blanketing our sand. I was always taught to recycle at home and never questioned if recycled waste really made it to the recycling facilities. When I moved to Singapore, it was confusing to find out only 4% of plastics here make it to recycling. My first step was figuring out where and how can I reduce my waste? From that curiosity and action turned into a responsibility, I became part of the reusable movement which eventually led me to creating my own brand “Peco Bag”.

2. Why do you see yourself as an ‘eco-warrior’?

I consider myself an eco-warrior because I voice what I stand for with pride and vouch to do all I can to bring awareness. This growing issue with plastics, is not just a problem but a war. It’s a long battle to help shift people to curb away from old habits and move towards responsible methods. A fight to make sure our oceans do not reach a point of acidity, where the underwater ecosystems die off from our negligence. A search for unity to bring like-minded individuals together who believe in the same cause to help fight climate change. I hope many others will want to become eco-warriors too and they can! 

It isn’t about being chosen or being a leader of a group. It’s about individual choices and goals to help save the environment and shape change to work towards a sustainable future for everyone.

3) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how has your everyday routine altered since the circuit-breaker situation?

Before the circuit breaker, I woke up at 8 am, flicked through Instagram until I was bored and ‘awake’, a bad state of mind to start my morning. I would then rush over to a 9am fitness class to feel a sense of accomplishment. Afterwards, I would slowly ease into work and begin answering emails and work through my ‘to do’ list for the day from 11 am.

Now, I am finding myself accomplishing work in my natural rhythm, letting myself have breaks without guilt, and waking up my mind in a healthier way, compared to expectations or pressure I was previously putting on myself, for what I thought productive should be.  

Interestingly enough, I go about my day now with more thoughtfulness and in a relaxed state of mind. My mornings start at 6 am, I wake up to play some meditation music and watch the sunrise in stillness. I’ll then read my book, get lost in thought and daydream. Then I call my boyfriend over in New York and have a chat. At 8 am, I start cooking breakfast and enjoy talking to my housemates about what kind of dreams they had last night. By 9 am, I feel like I have already accomplished a lot by grounding my mind and having ‘me’ time. I start my work and if my body is up to it, I make time to do a strength workout in the car park of my building or just in the foyer outside my front door.

Now, I am finding myself accomplishing work in my natural rhythm, letting myself have breaks without guilt, and waking up my mind in a healthier way, compared to expectations or pressure I was previously putting on myself, for what I thought productive should be.

4. What inspired you to start your own brand, Peco Bag?

Peco Bag was seeded from my constant frustrations at supermarkets. There is so much waste from the methods of packing groceries into single-use plastic bags, especially as I  believe that the first step towards a positive change starts with changing a habit. Initially, I would opt to just carry some home and pack the rest into my backpack. But then I came to terms with the hard-hitting facts – that all the plastic we have used in our lifetime still exists since it’s not biodegradable and more than often not recycled. So then I opted for the tote bag. However, I found myself forgetting to bring them or I would be deterred from bringing them because they were bulky and… ugly. So I wanted to solve this! 

I wanted to find a method to encourage a change in habit conveniently so everyone would bring their own reusable bag, which led me to create the Peco Bag. An all-in-one bag that incorporates convenience, aesthetics, durability and sustainability. I tested it for over a year with samples and finally perfected my perfect reusable bag!

Related article: Our Favourite Sustainable Bag Brands To Shop Now

5. On top of the fact that you’re a thriving entrepreneur and huge advocate for the environment, we can clearly see that you have a great sense of fashion too! What’s been your favourite sustainable fashion brands to shop?

Not too long ago I discovered the brand Everlane. They sell quality products in classic silhouettes, making them easy to style into different looks and on top of this are made out of sustainable materials. To me, the best part of the business is the transparency of their company. They list all the ethical manufacturers they work with and explain their experience visiting them as well as why they chose to work closely with them. Everlane also nominates a cause or an organisation to donate to during every Black Friday sale. They are the epitome of how each business should operate to their level of responsibility and commitment to be and do better.

6. How do you perceive the success of sustainable fashion in Singapore?

The great thing is, I have seen a shift with big brands starting to use upcycled materials in their lines, using eco-friendly innovative materials and introducing recycling bins in their stores for people to drop off their unwanted clothes. Sustainable fashion in Singapore will always be heavily influenced on the wants of the consumers. Companies are recognising this and the brands that are taking off are ones that care about the start to the finish of their manufacturing methods and the start and end of the products life with the consumer. I would love to see more sustainable local fashion brands pop up to curb away from fast fashion brands. Recently, I have also noticed a lot of more clothing swap initiatives and second selling platforms pop up which is very exciting!

7. What would you say are the best tips for shopping sustainably?

If you are a visual person like me, this is where the influencer market is so helpful. Before I started my brand, I followed a bunch of influencers who stood for green living and would share their thoughts on different products they’ve tried and switched to. You can also simply click on the tagged product and go straight to discovering what the brand is all about.

But if you’re heading down to the physical shops, consider the packaging. Ask yourself questions on whether the store’s made an effort to reduce packaging, if you’d need the plastic or paper carrier is in and if the product is recyclable at the end of its use.

8. What advice would you give to aspiring business entrepreneurs like yourself?

Figure out what your ‘WHY’ is. The ‘how’ and the ‘what’ will form naturally but the core should always be why. For example, say you want to start a skincare brand. There are so many of them on the market, so why is yours different? Why was your product created? Why did you feel inspired to start this business? Why is your company’s values and mission important? Why would someone want to join your business and mission? Always go back to why and that will fuel your passion to start and make your business a success.

Related article: Dr. Sylvia Earle’s Mission To Save The Oceans