Inspiring Women of Singapore | Lara and Anuja from Secondsguru

March 06, 2017

Inspiring Women of Singapore | Lara and Anuja from Secondsguru

Yin Yang is all about curating a conscious lifestyle for ladies. At Yin Yang, we believe that it is essential for ladies to be empowered with the knowledge of a conscious lifestyle, one that not only benefits their personal well-being, but also Mother Earth.

Through this series of "Inspiring Women of Singapore", we hope to motivate all our readers, as well as raise awareness of how exactly one can lead a conscious lifestyle. In this series, you would get to learn from some of the most inspiring ladies in Singapore, who are very well-versed in the details of a conscious lifestyle. Amongst them are people from all walks of life but with one thing in common, that is, they know exactly how to make our Mother Earth a better place. 

In this pioneer article of the series, let us meet Lara and Anuja, the founders of Secondsguru. Secondsguru is an online platform that tells you all about eco-events in Singapore, upcycling craft ideas, handy recycling tips, inspirational stories and everything in-between! 

Anuja (Left), Lara (Right) are co-founders of Secondsguru 

First of all, a brief introduction of yourselves?

We - Anuja and Lara - have been friends since a decade now. We met as expats in Hong Kong, Lara working as a private banker and Anuja as a financial journalist. But interestingly, the instant connect we felt had nothing to do with finance, or anything materialistic at all. We had a shared sense of aesthetics, a love for handmade stuff, an inability to ignore vintage shops, … you get the drift! Later, with both of us in Singapore in 2014, we also mirrored a shared, fierce desire to instil a love for nature in our children.


We understand that you were from finance and journalism background. What event sparked your inspirations to move into such a different path?

Lara, an MBA with a major in finance, has worked as a private banker across Asia for 13 years in some of the biggest banks in the region. Anuja has written for financial journals in India as well as Hong Kong. She too is an MBA, but switched to journalism after a short stint in investment banking in India.

To be honest, there was no one incident that sparked us to quit traditional careers and turn entrepreneurs!  In early 2014, we found our conversations often drifting to the topic of sustainable lifestyle, of how difficult and time-consuming it was to do the right thing for Planet Earth.

We wished there was a resource to help us  - there was a genuine need gap in Singapore - and then we figured, why don’t we create it! Frankly, with a long working life behind us, we did not lack the confidence to reprogram our careers.

Secondsguru was born out of a desire to create a single stop online tool for anyone - irrespective of gender and age - wanting to lead a sustainable lifestyle. It was set up in the latter part of 2014. Today, it tells its readers all about eco-events in Singapore, handy tips to be green at home, inspirational stories, upcycling ideas for common household waste [from chairs to toilet paper rolls] and everything in-between! In short, we translate the larger green agenda into smaller goals- we break it down into easy, fun and creative pointers. We also have a newsletter where we keep our subscribers looped in on the top articles, latest happenings and upcoming events in the green space.


You mentioned that you want to make a difference in terms of environmental friendliness from the grassroots level. Are you able to share how you are going about doing this currently and what are your future plans?

The government of Singapore, along with Ministry of environment, PUB, NEA and other government bodies is doing a fantastic job of rolling out pro-environment programs in the country at a macro level- HDB recycling schemes, NEWater, exclusive biking tracks, events like Clean & Green Singapore and many more such endeavors. The latest feather in the cap is the signing of COP21 by Singapore, whereby Singapore has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity by 36 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. In short a great job happening at the top level.

NEA Fair with Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong

However what we found missing, when we started out, was a buy-in at an individual or grassroots level to be pro-environment in day-to-day living. This is the segment Secondsguru is trying to reach out to; we want to bring about a mindset shift. The articles on share human experiences and simple tips on how to live green, highlighting the ease of doing it along the way. Living green is not a sacrifice - there a joy to it! Secondsguru also participates in local green events to get the live green message across. We have:

  • Organized book and DVD swaps at EarthFest 2015, EarthFest 2017, and the Nat Geo Earth Day Run to raise awareness about reusing and reducing waste
  • Organized workshops and sold handmade upcycled products at the NEA Clean Green Singapore fair (which included a plastic bag upcycled into clutches designed by us!)
  • Run a quarterly event for kids called the Piggy Bank Club - a recycling activity club with a social purpose, exclusively for kids. We teach children to recycle, save and donate - all at the same time!

EarthFest 2015


What do you think of the current eco-friendly mentality in singapore? What do you think can be done?

When we started in the latter part of 2014, we felt the overall mentality towards eco friendly living was more of a concept on paper that encompassed bigger terms like climate change, global warming and such. Honestly, all great concepts but in reality primarily good to read about, talk at social get togethers and share on social media! Then there were times when we would be standing in a coffee shop, waiting for our hot coffee to arrive in our reusable mugs and a youngster would walk in asking for coffee in a takeaway cup, needing a bag to carry that in, and to add insult to injury ask for multiple paper napkins, spoons, and stirrers to go along.

But now as we speak in early 2017, we observe a positive shift with more people wanting to be, and successfully managing to be, more environmentally conscientious. There is a fair bit of chatter - in the local press and on social media - about an overall need to be leading an eco friendly life particularly in Singapore which, let’s face it, as a country has limited resources! There has been some positive change at the community level too, just looking at the number of green events - casual and formal - happening in Singapore now, all of which see full house attendance not only comprising of industry members but also members from the general population.

We are also seeing a rise of entrepreneurs who are making sustainability a part of their business plan and marketing spiel- [see our favs here] - we feel it is a sign of  society maturing to the idea that the environment has to become part of a lifestyle, it has to be something we vote for with our wallet, our behaviour, and our choices.

Book Swap at National Geographic Earth Day Run

What can be done? We need to create a community feeling that living green is not an isolated event, but instead being green is an ‘experience’ that works best often at a group level, where one person’s action inspires the community around him/ her and leads to a shift in behaviour patterns. A simple example would be carrying your own shopping bag to the supermarket or taking a reusable coffee mug for your next coffee catch-up session or even separating trash from recyclables mindfully in your own home and sharing the experiences with friends and family.


Thank you so much for sharing! Any last words for our readers?

Yoga is all about being mindful! Borrowing from that, let’s make our daily living mindful: let’s be aware of our actions and choices, and how they affect our environment.  Our lives automatically become green/pro-environment when we take actions with thoughtfulness, and not just convenience.