Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Infectious Happiness

The Straits Times carried an article from Washington Post on 6 December 2008 on a 20-year study of more than 4,700 people. The study found that if a person is happy or becomes happy, there is a 8-34% chance that people around them (friends, siblings, spouses, neighbours) will be infected with the happiness too.

But really, if you had the experience of happy babies smiling at you, or smiley cashiers attending to you, you do not really need statistics to convince you that you felt more wonderful then, do you?

This study brings to mind the Gross National Happiness index, a term coined by Bhutan's former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972, in response to Bhutan opening up to modernisation. The GNH measures a nation's well-being and happiness through 7 metrics that include physical, mental and environmental well-being (click on title link for more).

I was quite often asked why I chose "Big Grin" for the company. Well, we all want happiness regardless of who we are, isn't it? Every action that we take is for the sake of wanting to be happier. As founders of BGO, we enjoy taking actions in creating well-being, both for environment and for people.

And let's hope this :-) gets more infectious than the dreaded flu bug.

If you haven't smiled to anyone today, hey, you have got nothing to lose and everything to gain. ;-) :-) X-D

Monday, November 10, 2008

Seeing The Cotton Growers Up Close

Watch this enriching video to see how lethal pesticides used in conventional cotton growing affects cotton farmers in India.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sustaining The Sustainable Living

One cannot be faulted for pointing out the paradox in the title above. After all, sustainable living is simply self-sustaining. There should be no other effort to “sustain” it.

As the promotion of green living seems to have gained momentum in recent years (especially in the times that we are now where natural resources are seriously depleting and prices of food and fuel rising), human intervention to find alternative resources could create new sets of problems.

One good example is the spate of arguments on biofuels versus food price increases.

While biofuels may become the saviour of world’s energy depletion, criticisms have amounted on increased biofuel production leading to food price increases as countries like Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia invested heavily in this new industry and crop yields have lessened.

The truth is the conditions that lead to the shortage of food (which leads to food price increase) are varied and complicated.

The following factors have been cited as contributors to food shortage:

- Fuel price increase (hits fertilizer price and transportation costs)
- Food consumption increase (due to expanding population especially India and China)
- Dietary changes (more meat consumption leading to grains grown to support grazing cattle instead of consumers)
- Climatic changes (droughts in Australia & S. Africa, freezing winters in China, exceptional warmth in northern Europe)

All these being said, is it best then we sit back and do nothing?

There are, in my view, human interventions that cannot result in undesirable consequences.

And all it takes is simply a change in our living habits.

We can all start by consuming less. Do not consume more than what we need. Buy less stuff, use less resources.

I know this sounds contradicting from the mouth of a retailer. As a retailer, I should perhaps be advocating SPENDING!

But it did not take me long to reconcile this contradiction.

As a provider of goods and services, what should my contribution be? I reckon my contribution should be providing good quality products that leave as little carbon footprints as can be.

Consumers ought to be given this option. After all, we cannot not consume at all. That would be detrimental to the economy, not to mention the satisfaction of our daily needs. But when we do consume, what should we choose?

Do we choose a cheap and low quality product that can withstand only a few times of use before it ends up in the garbage?

Do we choose poorly constructed products that are cheap but might pose potential hazards?

As a consumer, I often find that the best way to eat or buy things is to eat or buy it at its most natural state.

I am often asked by acquaintance if I really always eat organic food every meal. I wish I can say I can afford organic food every meal but I do try to buy organic food for our family as much as I can. And if you cannot be a vegetarian like me, I told my other friend, just eating less meat is a good step to begin.

Some people asked me too if all the clothing in my wardrobe is organic cotton too since I retail it. Again, I wish it is the case. But that will mean I throw out all the existing non-organic clothing and this is not what sustainable living is all about.

Instead, I will keep wearing them until they are worn out and replace them with organic ones, which fortunately are a lot more accessible to consumers in Singapore now than before.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

When Fertilisers Run Short

What happens when farmers grew reliant on chemical fertilisers? Well, one can expect riots like what those that occurred in India recently this year when there is an acute shortage of fertilisers.

In North Karnataka in India, all 12 districts suffered from fertiliser scarcity in June this year. During sowing, farmers need DAP (Di-Ammonium Phosphate) and NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) Complex but but neither government-managed APMCs (agriculture produce marketing committees) nor private traders have enough stock. This scarcity is caused by arrears in fertiliser subsidy that led to fertiliser-producing factories stopping government supply.

The fertiliser scarcity caused fury in Karnataka as farmers in Hubli-Dharwad, Haveri and Bailhongal districts went on rampage, torching vehicles. The police retaliated by using lathicharge (a lathi typically refers to a 6 to 8 foot long cane tipped with a metal blunt. It is used by swinging it back and forth like a sword) and tear gas and eventually opening fire, resulting in one death.

There are of course many alternatives to chemical fertilisers, such as using farmyard manure, biofertilisers or vermin (wild mammals and birds) compost. However, farmers are accustomed to using packed fertilisers as opposed to dirtying their hands in making their own fertilisers.

Using organic or natural fertilisers mean low risk and low cost for the farmers, but the yield is only moderate compared to crops planted with chemical fertilisers and GMOs (genetically modified organisms). This deters many farmers from switching to back-to-basic natural crop producing methods. However this seems to be the only way that farmers can be self-reliant and not susceptible to other factors beyond their control.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Organic Ayurveda Soap

We were excited when we came back from India. Our visit to an ayurvastra production centre in Kerala opened our eyes to numerous types of natural herbs that can be used to dye yarns and fabrics and make soaps. The concoction in each dye is specific to certain ailments, in accordance to ancient Indian ayurveda treatment.

We brought back soaps that are made from the oils of natural indigenous Indian herbs, one that is made primarily from Neem, and the other made primarily from Ramacham (or vetivert).

About The Plants


Neem (the green leafy plant in the pictures) is a very useful plant that provide numerous uses from roots to leaves. It is such a wonderful healing tree that it is regarded as the Wonder Tree in India. Typically growing to 10-11 metres tall, the tree bears small white flowers with single-seeded green or yellow fruits. Neem trees grow easily even in drought conditions and provide much welcomed shade with their wide spread branches. They are not only air purifiers, but also a healing tree as all parts of the tree have healing properties.

Neem leaves help to reduce flatulence, phlegm and are also good insecticides. Fresh leaves can be concocted to fight against chronic malaria fever. The gum discharge form the stems has a soothing effect on the skin. Saps from Neem trees can be extracted to treat leprosy. Neem leaves can also be applied externally to treat skin diseases. The juice of Neem leaves can even be applied on the eyes to treat eye and ear ailments.


Ramacham or Vetivert (the greyish moss-like plant in the picture) comes from the perennial Gramineae family with tall scented grass. It is a known to calm the mind, soothe the nervous system and relief aches and pains.

A bath with the Vetivert soap is great for insomnia, rheumatism, arthritic pain and healing of the skin, relieving mental and physical exhaustion.

About Our Soaps

Neem Vedic Soap (Beige)
Made without the use of irritants, synthetic fragrances or colours and has a cooling effect after use. The anti-fungi property of Neem seed oil and the anti-oxidant Tulasi make this vedic soap great for antiseptic and healing of primary skin diseases such as eczema, inflamed skin, chicken pox and athlete's feet.

Other ingredients in this soap include cold pressed Coconut Oil, Lye, Palmarosa, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, Geranium and other natural herbs. Suitable for vegans.

Vetivert/Ramacham Soap (Green)
Vetivert essential oil has an earth, musty smell and has wonderful effect on the mind and body. Revitalise your body with this organic soap made from Ramacham, Trinaraja, Curcuma, Coconut Oil and other natural oils. Free from animal fats, irritants and synthetic colours. Suitable for vegans.

The ingredients in the soap comes from naturally growing wild herbs in India that the production centre in Kerala either grows themselves or purchases from the local tribes. Each of our soap is wrapped in natural betel nut husks.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Terry Winchester Coming To Singapore - 21 June 2008

BGO is proud to be a supporting organisation for Terry Winchester's MindFrame Seminar in Singapore on 21 June 2008 (Saturday), at NTUC Centre (Training Room), One Marina Boulevard.

Terry Winchester is a renown hypotherapist and a holistic bee keeper in South Africa. He founded The Winchester Foundation more than 30 years ago conducting Alpha Mind Power Training and running a hypotherapy clinic.

Now Terry Winchester is coming to Singapore speaking on his MindFrame Technique which focuses on personal development and mind training.

All Big Grin Organics customers who register with full payment for the seminar enjoys a 20% discount off usual price of S$398.

Terry Winchester's MindFrame Seminar is run by AllAbtEvents (

Monday, June 2, 2008

Recycled Wheelchairs - Wheels Of Hope Project by An Unsung Hero

We had a great learning experience at Kampong Senang Holistic Fair on Sunday (1 June).

I met and had a jovial talk with Mr. Eugene Tan, who heads Wheels Of Hope project, a subsidiary under Kampong Senang Mobility Aids Services & Training Centre. I later found out that the humble Mr. Eugene Tan is the recipient of Rotary Club's "Unsung Hero" award for their "Shine on Singapore for Unsung Heroes" event 2008.

Wheels Of Hope repairs and polishes used wheelchairs with the help of Mr. Eugene Tan's volunteer work force (of which 70% are women!). They repair used wheelchairs which would otherwise be thrown away, and hope to sell the recycled "good-as-new" wheelchair to those who need it. Presently, the wheelchairs are loaned out for free to needy people who are referred to Wheels Of Hope by hospitals.

A bubbly Mr. Eugene Tan appreciates the hard work of his volunteers and has been organising Volunteer Training & Nature Bonding Obstacle Course for them and their families at Bedok Reservoir (see picture).

For those who need and can afford to buy a wheelchair, the purchase of recycled wheelchairs from Wheels Of Hope not only help defray their overheads like rental of premise, utilities and other operating costs, it will also be a positive move towards earth conservation by not creating more waste, as many people get new wheelchairs and then throw them away or chuck them aside to rust when they no longer need it.

According to a handout by Kampong Senang Charity & Education Foundation, from 2006 to May 2008, Wheels Of Hope had benefited 909 people and an estimated expenses of S$72,000 per annum.

If you would like to know more about Wheels Of Hope project, you can visit their workshop at:

Blk 254 Tampines Street 21 #01-464 (10 min walk from Tampines MRT & Bus Interchange)

or contact Mr. Eugene Tan at 9692 1924 / 6783 9023


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happy Vesak Day

Vesak (or Wesak) celebrates Buddha's birthday, enlightenment and death on the first full moon of the month of May.

We wish you all a very enjoyable holiday.

As Buddhists celebrate the life of Buddha and his teaching on this day, let us pray hard for the health and well-being of the victims of the natural disasters in Myanmar and China.

More about Vesak:





Charity Fair at Kampong Senang Holistic Lifestyle Centre

In line with our philosophy of giving back to society and promoting awareness of organic cotton and sustainable living, we are participating in an upcoming charity fair organised by Kampong Senang Charity and Education Foundation.

All proceeds will be donated towards Kampong Senang Charity and Education Foundation.

The details are as follows:

Date: 1 June 2008 (Sunday)

Time: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Venue: Kampong Senang Holistic Lifestyle Centre
Blk 106 Aljunied Crescent #01-205


Tel: 6749 8509

Kampung Senang provides a wide range of services for people with disability, cancer patients, elderly & free clinic, autistic children, environment, health and psychological health education programs.

Please log on to their official website to know more about what they do:

We are very excited about this event and look forward to your kind support.

We would also like to thank all who supported us at our bazaar at Clarke Quay Central Square last weekend.

We are only able to give back because of your green support for BGO. And we hope to be able to do more.

Thank you once again and do give us your feedback to help us do better.

Friday, May 16, 2008

How To Fold A T-shirt In Two Seconds

Make folding your clothes a breeze!

Watch this video on youtube on the Japanese way of folding t-shirts in two seconds.

And here's the Italian way:

How To Fold A Paper Shirt

Watch this video on youtube on how to make simple paper shirt.

Late Night Bazaar at Clarke Quay Central Square

We had a good time at Clarke Quay Central Square Late Night bazaar with Betsy from Knotty Bicsie.

Friday, May 9, 2008

New Stockist @ SANCTUM

We are excited to have a new stockist! You can now find our organic cotton products at SANCTUM which is located at 5 Boon Tat Street #02-01 Singapore 069613 (

Please call beforehand to find out availability of the products you want (Tel: 65-6225 4381).

SANCTUM is a holistic centre dedicated to the exploration of ancient and modern methods of wisdom for spiritual, emotional and mind health and wholeness.

It is a nice and cosy place which we like very much. One of their rooms overlook the small but picturesque Telok Ayer Park. And while you are there, take time to sip tea and chill out at their roof top terrace!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Strida For Earth Day

Today is Earth Day and what better way to celebrate this day than with a foldable city bike like Strida?

We are very excited with the new addition to our BGO family - Strida 5.0!

It is very easy to fold and unfold and a joy to ride on. Foldable bikes certainly aids us in leading an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Catch Planet Green on Discovery Channel tonight!

Catch Earth Day specials on Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel this month starting tonight!

Watch these great programmes if you can:

1. Wednesday, 16 April (tonight) at 10 p.m. on Discovery Channel (CH 12)

Five Ways To Save The World

Part of a 50-hour programming (Planet Green), five scientists and engineers will be featured tonight to talk about their radical ideas on reversing global warming.

2. Tuesday, 22 April (Earth Day!) at 9 p.m. on National Geographic Channel (CH 11)

I Didn't Know That Goes Green

Want to know all about solar panels and low-energy bulbs? Two guys (Richard Ambrose and Jonny Phillips) show how to go green at home and also test drive green cars.

3. Tuesday, 22 April (Earth Day!) at 10 p.m. on National Geographic Channel (CH 11)

Human Footprint

From the amount of trash we discard to the amount of beans we consume, this programme looks into the imprints we leave on the earth.

And if you have not watched Al Gore on An Inconvenient Truth, HBO (CH 60) is showing the programme on Earth Day (22 April) at 9 p.m.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

InqBox Temporarily Closed

There was a small mishap at our stockist InqBox at Raffles City Shopping Centre. Apparently some electrical trip caused a small fire. Fortunately no one was hurt and dear Carmen told us our organic toys there were fine too (hooray!). Store will be closed temporarily until further notice.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Plant A Tree @ Telok Blangah Hill Park

Yes! We are planting our first tree this Sunday at Telok Blangah Hill Park.

Join us at this event!

Meeting Place: Lock Road Carpark
Date: 30 March 2008 (Sunday)
Time: 9 AM

Log on website to learn more about the importance of tree-planting and how you can contribute whether as an individual, family or group.

We are committed to doing our business in a sustainable way.

We operate primarily as an online store to reduce operating cost.
We reduce, reuse and recycle whenever we can in our home office.
And we allocate 5% of BGO's sales proceeds to contribute to earth conservation projects like Plant-A-Tree-Today (PATT) and Garden City Fund (GCF).

By supporting BGO, you are supporting our green cause and loving our Mother Earth in the same way as we do.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Big Thank You

We had a wonderful time at the Holistic Living Wellness Weekend held last weekend at Fort Canning Centre. Fort Canning is beautiful and an apt environment to hold such holistic fairs.

People we met were wonderful too. There was good networking and support from fellow participants. AND we are very happy of course to receive tremendous encouragement from the public who came for the fair.

A big Thank You (and Big Grin :-)) to organic supporters!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Partner of Plant-A-Tree-Today Organisation

We have joined Plant-A-Tree-Today (PATT) organisation as a partner member!

PATT is a UK-registered Charity that works towards raising awareness of environmental issues such as deforestation and taking actions against climate change, and of course promoting planting of more trees.

Closer to home, we have a similar Plant-A-Tree programme too run by Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and Garden City Fund (GCF). Now individuals can plant a tree or more at designated parks and nature reserves on the last Sunday of each month or on special days like Earth Day (22 April).

BGO set aside 5% of our sales proceeds towards our Earth Protect Fund to support programmes such as PATT and Garden City Fund to show our commitment towards creating a better world for ourselves and our future generations.

Holistic Living Wellness Weekend

Well well well!

The Holistic Living Wellness Weekend is finally here! We are excited. Even though our shipment of Earth Creations' apparels are unable to come in time for the festival, we are still excited to bring our trade samples and huggable organics toys to the fair. Participants enjoy a 20% discount on all items at our booth. Place an order for our Earth Creations' apparels and we will post it to you registered for free (on top of the 20% discount).

So see you there!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Livestock's Long Shadow

The Food & Agricultural Organisation (FAO) released an extensive study on the world's livestock industry last year and painted a grim picture of livestock's impact on the environment. It calls the livestock industry a "major stressor" on our eco-system.

Taking over more and more crop and forest lands, and using up (and polluting) precious water sources, the livestock industry worldwide is a big threat to nature's bio-diversity. 70% of what used to be forested land in the Amazon basin has now turned to grazing pastures.

And the problem is exacerbated by the growing meat consumption worldwide. According to a Straits Times article dated 11 March reflecting the results of the FAO report, "between the 1960s and the current decade, worldwide meat production has approximately quadrupled. In the same period, per capita meat consumption has doubled - and will double again by 2050."

With this ever increasing meat consumption, livestock now actually consumes more human edible protein than they produce!

What an irony.

The livestock produce could actually greatly benefit malnourished people in third world countries but apparently meat
consumption increases when a country becomes wealthier. In other words, what the poor is lacking, the rich takes too much of it.

If people practise vegetarianism, imagine how the poor and starving could benefit from the amount of grains that would have gone into feeds!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Quarter Of World's Insecticide

You might not have realized how close to chemical pesticides you are than you think.

According to Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), conventionally grown cotton accounts for up to 25 percent of the world's insecticide use (though cotton crop accounts for only about 3 percent of world's crop). So we know conventional cotton T-shirts that we are wearing are not at all pure cotton, no matter how "natural" the tag says the cotton is.

A new study also reveals that children whose mothers are exposed to certain pesticides are at a higher risk for developing Autism Spectrum Disorders (refer to link). Not only are pesticides harmful to mothers and children, they are also damaging the health of conventional cotton farmers who are exposed to these pesticides day in day out.

Ironically, the use of pesticides not only does not make the cotton crop better, they actually make the farmers poorer too.

The purchase of chemical fertilizers and pesticides constitute a big part of production cost for cotton farmers. Constant use of pesticides however make the pests more resistant and thus farmers often end up running in debts to buy more expensive fertilizers.

So why aren't these cotton farmers turning to organic cotton farming, you may ask? Well, for one, organic cotton farming is not as easy as it looks. Farmers probably have to make their own manure and compost and tend to weeding their plots more frequently.

And the returns are little in the short run. Many cotton farmers are still enticed by higher yield genetically modified (GM) crop.

The only solution is have more and more consumers recognize the cost benefit of organically grown cotton and show support, so that more conventional cotton farmers can be convinced of its benefits and convert to organic farming.