Meet Joline Tang, The Eco-minded Entrepreneur

By the SMU Social Media Team

Sustainable living has just gotten easier, thanks to the efforts of Singapore Management University (SMU) School of Accountancy alumna Joline Tang and her eco-friendly business.

Sustainable living and environmental awareness are not just buzzwords for corporate marketing, but essential mindsets for long-term success. And increasingly, individuals are recognising that their own lifestyle changes can make a difference towards slowing down climate change, global warming and resource depletion.


Sustainability Project website


One such individual dedicated to helping others become more ethical and sustainable consumers is Joline Tang, founder of The Sustainability Project. The online store for products like bamboo straws, stackable bamboo boxes, and reusable facial rounds contributes 1 per cent of net profits towards environmental projects like the NParks Plant a Tree programme, all in a bid to promote sustainable living and raise awareness for adopting low- or zero-waste lifestyle.

Aside from being an e-commerce platform, Joline has also set up a blog that shares anything from insights to health and wellness to fun facts and knowledge about sustainable living. Recently, the company worked with Koufu at SMU to be the first food court to say no to plastic straws. This record-breaking event was a milestone for Koufu, which attempted a national record of having the most number of people drinking with bamboo straws from The Sustainability Project.


Joline during a interview with Mediacorp


A Sustainable Start

Joline’s sustainability journey began when she was a Polytechnic student when she would collect her friends’ partially used pieces of paper to reuse. During her time in SMU, she became vice president of the environmental club, SMU Verts. From there, her passion for protecting the environment, and her entrepreneurial ambitions, grew.

“There were a lot of opportunities given to me over the past four years at SMU,” says Joline.

“Being part of SMU did not just equip me with entrepreneurial skills, it also provided the relevant exposure to allow me to pursue my interests and build my confidence.”

During an internship with a business that sold biodegradable and compostable partyware, and another relating to sustainability reporting, Joline managed to garner more knowledge about environmental issues.

“However, I felt like I was not truly helping the environment,” admits Joline, who graduated in August 2018.

“There was something missing.”

When she embarked on an exchange programme to Norway, Joline had the opportunity to conduct more research into zero to low waste lifestyles. It was then that she realised how expensive it is for residents in Singapore to adopt a green way of life, due to the scarcity of accessible, sustainable options. The experience led to the creation of The Sustainability Project, which offers a range of products that rank high in quality, but carries affordable price tags.


Sustainability Project products


Countering Resistance 

Sustainable living is often met with resistance in this age of instant gratification, whereby convenience often tops our list of priorities. Aside from the usual challenges faced by entrepreneurs when building a business, Joline deals with the obstacle of convincing consumers to sacrifice a bit of convenience for the good of the environment.

Joline showcasing her bamboo straws

However, she believes that the key is to encourage individuals to make small, gradual changes in their lives towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Therefore, capturing attention and traction for The Sustainability Project’s products is key to persuading more people to support this cause.

“For me, design and aesthetics are always important,” says Joline.

“It helps to attract people to take notice of the product first. Then, you can take the opportunity to share with them what the product is about. Functionality is also another important factor as we want to ensure that the product can truly be used for a long period of time.”

Convincing the masses to take the first step is always the hardest, but the power of the media has proven to be a great advantage and source of influence. One of the most impactful videos on the web is a video of a turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose and that has proven to be successful in altering the habit of using plastic straws for many.

“The media is a very powerful tool to raise awareness and let others know more about what is happening outside of their own comfort zone”, Joline says.


Sustainability Project pop-up at B3 Bistro


The road towards a more sustainable life and, collectively, a more environmentally-mindful society is not an easy one. Joline respects that everyone will have a different take to making this change and that it is certainly not an easy one. However, she has faith that eventually, everyone will see the importance of adopting a more sustainable lifestyle.


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