Congratulations to the winners of National YRE Competition! All participants can receive a certificate of participation. If you require one, please email us edu@wwf.sg with your full name. We look forward to your entries this year!

Odell Jeremiah Dass, the National YRE Competition 2018 winner will be attending the International Conference for Sustainability Education in Delhi, India in September 2019! We wish him all the best and we look forward to his updates after the conference.

International Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) Competition

3 Singapore entries from WWF National YRE Competition 2018 were awarded at the international Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) Competition!

Name Category Award
Loraine Lee Yen 19 – 25 years old, Article 1st prize
Tham Wee Nee 11 – 14 years old, Article 2nd prize
Odell Jeremiah Dass 19 – 25 years old, Video Honourable Mention
11 - 14
Article

Take Action, Don't Wait for a Reaction

Tham Wee Nee

CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls' School

Theme: Climate Action

Singaporeans have to step up their game in the battle against climate change and take climate action before they feel the reaction of climate change. I wrote the article by looking at current measures in place, and then holding a survey to find out what people thought about climate change and from the responses from the survey, I realised that Singaporeans lacked the knowledge about climate change and hence were not driven to take action, hence, I came up with solutions based on my previous experiences in using certain social media platforms, as well as applications commonly used by Singaporeans as well, while keeping common Singaporean behaviours in mind to predict which climate action measures would work.

Take Action, Don't Wait for a Reaction

A new report from the United Nations has shown that if greenhouse gas levels continue at the current rate, global temperatures could rise by 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2040[1]. Just a few years ago, we had never seen climate change as a problem as large-scale as this. Now, the realisation dawns on us. If we do not take action now, there will be a bitter future. Icebergs will melt, inundating coastlines, weather patterns will change, resulting in droughts and as the world population continues to boom, poverty will become a norm. Is this a future that we want for ourselves and the next generation? No one wants a damaged, hand-me-down planet, and no one deserves it.

Imagine a sustainable garden in a city. What would you see? I would observe a lush, thick foliage, abundant wildlife living amongst the hustle bustle of human activity and a car-free city. A modern metropolis, solar panels, occasional bus stops and throngs of cyclists.

Singapore, ranked second in sustainability globally[2], has not yet achieved its full potential. However, one can argue that it has been working hard to do so. With an ambitious goal to reduce its Emissions Intensity by 36% from 2005 levels by 2030[3], the government has unlocked new ways to make the country more self-sufficient. Multiple initiatives rolled out in 2018 aimed for the nation to emit less carbon, such as quadrupling the sheltered walkway network to encourage citizens to walk and cycle more, but that's just an appetizer.

A pilot HDB (Housing Development Board) Greenprint programme[4]transformed 38 blocks of flats in Yuhua into Singapore's first green neighbourhood, which included new, smart and sustainable technologies that targeted concerns like energy and water conservation. Solar panels were installed onto the top of the estate flats, while a rainwater harvesting system was put into place. The success of the programme led to its extension to Teck Ghee.

Fig. 1: The solar panels will power the lifts and the corridor and staircase lightings

Image by NCCS National Climate Change Secretariat, from https://www.nccs.gov.sg/docs/default-source/publications/take-action-today-for-a-carbon-efficient-singapore.pdf

However, I believe the problem truly lies in convincing the citizens to do their part to fight climate change. Through a Google Form Survey[5], I asked how they thought climate change affected them from the scale of 1 to 10, and 4 of the 11 respondents I asked responded with an answer of 5 and below. What is more puzzling is that even those who knew the great impact of climate change were not driven to change their lifestyles and habits to the maximum. That got me thinking, do Singaporeans really know the full impact of climate change?

Forms response chart. Question title: From a scale of 1 to 10, to what extent do you think climate change affects you?. Number of responses: 11 responses.

Fig 2A: 7 out of the 11 responses believed that they knew about most of the effects of climate change

Forms response chart. Question title: From a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you think you do to reduce the impacts of climate change?. Number of responses: 11 responses.

Fig 2B: Only 5 out of 11 responses thought they did well in reducing the effects of climate change

To me, this calls for an immediate change. Climate change is an incoming typhoon about to hit Singapore, if we are going to avoid its wrath, we will have to step up our game, doing all that we can manage to lure it away from our path. However, Singapore is not made up of just one individual, hence, education is one of the methods that can keep everyone on the same page.

One way of education is through compulsory seminars for adults and talks to schooling children, teenagers, as well as children in kindergarten. Less invasive methods would be through letters to the citizens or emails, which they can read in their own time. Despite this, merely cramming information into the heads of Singaporeans might not do much on its own, building interest in this area of concern is just as important. Carnival games organised by Community Clubs as well as schools can not only reinforce bonds between friends and family, but environmental-themed games can also build on to the knowledge that people learn in the classroom.

However, this might not necessarily garner the attention of people of all age groups. Another way one can try to attract attention to this environmental issue is through social media, the trend for most teenagers and young adults. Environmental organisations can collaborate with famous Singaporean personalities to promote climate action. In addition, they can use hashtags as a way to gather attention to the issue, such as #tryeverythingonce, which can allow people to try using eco-friendly products or make simple changes to their lifestyle and feel the advantages of doing so, hence making it a habit. One of the best advantages to this is that it will raise awareness of climate change among the young, and it will be easier to influence them to take climate action, once they learn about the harm climate change brings, as they might not have formed an opinion about it yet.

Moreover, we all know a significant trait of Singaporeans, being Kiasu, or afraid to lose out to the crowd. Environmental groups can collaborate with government officials to start an app, similar to the Healthy 365 application released by HealthHub, which allow users to scan a Quick Response Code, or QR Code, to earn points whenever they order a healthy dish or ingredient, which can allow them to earn vouchers upon reaching a certain number of points. A new app can be coded to do just that, to reward users who visit shops which have environmentally-friendly practices, such as using a limited amount of energy per square metre, or by using fans instead of air-conditioning. Other functions can include doing environmental quizzes, reading and writing articles on climate change and climate action, as well as rewarding eco-friendly behaviours by sending a picture to the managers of the application to earn points and redeem coupons and vouchers.

Climate action is vital to reducing the harmful effects of climate change and through my survey, I have realised that education is key to paving the way to a sustainable, low-carbon emission city. The Singapore government have indeed put in a great effort to keep to their pledge to reduce the Emissions Intensity by 36% from 2005, or 0.113 kilograms per dollar, by 2030, but I believe that the battle against climate change has to be done by both citizen and government, especially those of the younger generation, who will be feeling the effects of climate change if we do not act now.


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11 - 14
Article

The Most Beautiful Colour

Koon Wei Pheng

St. Joseph's Institution

Theme: Sustainable Cities and Communities

I have adopted the concept of 'colours' in my article. This is because I believe that the good health of our Earth is dependent on how 'green' it is. Naturally, the most beautiful colour is green, which is also the word I used to begin and end the article. The first green introduces the climate crisis, yet the last green introduces the solution to the problem. This is also how I hope that we work to change the situation - even though we face a grave problem now, we can change the situation and create a greener tomorrow, starting by taking small steps today.

The Most Beautiful Colour

Green has been forgotten.

While it is a simple mix of blue and yellow, it has been overcome by litres of black crude oil, ribbons of grey smoke and disgusting slimes of pollution.

Around the globe, the alarm has been sounded. United Nations proclaimed that we only have 12 years to mitigate the climate change catastrophe [1]. Further, our overall human population is rising at an alarming rate of 75 million people every year, meaning that demand will only keep on rising [2]. Supply is facing an unsatisfiable demand.

Mother Earth has lost her balance.

  Carbon emissions from factories. As climate change becomes more pronounced than ever, mainitaining global sustainability becomes pivotal. SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

Sustaining Sustainability

Global sustainability is essential to restore the balance of our world. Sustainability means maintaining change in a way which environmental resources can be maintained. It is a form of resilience in the face of change.

Even in modern metropolises, sustainability is pivotal for constant improvement, both for human societies and our natural world. In Singapore, for example, the water shortage between 1963 and 1964 saw the painful rationing of water. Till today, the incident reminds Singaporeans to conserve water. It reminds us all to save by using only what we need, enabling us to see the reliance of human life on environmental sustainability.

Driving the Force of Nature

To achieve sustainability, a collaborative push is needed. This collaboration must be drawn from various organisations, ministries and individuals to drive the movement of environmental preservation. Only with a combined force can we overturn the climate crisis we currently face. Numerous activities highlight this.

For instance, the Clean Plate Campaign [3] was launched in Singapore in 2013 to combat the insurmountable amount of food waste. Since then, the campaign has tackled both food waste in hawker centres and in schools to promote their campaign. The campaign aims to remind diners to finish every grain of food on their plates and to purchase only their requirements. In schools, volunteers counted the number of students' empty plates, awarding the school with the best performance with a trophy. The campaign counted 5,000 plates in two days.

In another exercise in 2017, water rationing exercises [4] were carried out together with World Water Day in schools. By reviving the days of water rationing, students saw the importance of conserving water. When the taps in schools were switched off for 4 hours, students had to collect water in pails to flush toilets and wash their hands. As Woodgrove principal Chee Chit Yeng said, "The main objective is to let the students be aware that the amenities and convenience they have - you press a button and the flush works, turn on the tap and you have water - should not be taken for granted."

Secondary 2 students Chia Jia En (left) and Koh Wei Shan relying on water in a pail to wash their hands during the water rationing exercise at Woodgrove Secondary School yesterday. Woodgrove is the first of 45 schools, including pre-schools, to conduct the exercise this year.

  Secondary 2 students Chia Jia En (left) and Koh Wei Shan relying on water in a pail to wash their hands during the water rationing exercise at Woodgrove Secondary School yesterday. Woodgrove is the first of 45 schools, including pre-schools, to conduct the exercise this year. SOURCE: THE STRAITS TIMES

These legitimate actions which have been taken to improve sustainability by easing demand represent a source of power in the face of climate change. Further, the efforts driving these activities display determination to overcome the current situation. Most importantly, their victories in changing habits prove that we are not helpless in the face of the climate crisis, but instead that we wield great power to change the situation.

Mixing Blue with Yellow

Moving on, two words undermine the push towards further growth and improvement of the environmental efforts: habits and attitude.

On one hand, developing good habits is critical, since our actions are defined by our habits. In Singapore, we wasted 800,000 tonnes of food last year [5]. The amount of waste recycled also fell by 50,000 tonnes from 4.77 million tonnes in 2016 to 4.72 million tonnes in 2017 [6]. Each Singaporean uses 1.6 plastic bags on average daily, which is twice the number in Malaysia and thrice that in Australia [7]. Such are the choices Singaporeans make daily. However, if we take baby steps in the opposite direction, each of us could do lots to save our world. We could ask for one less plastic bag daily, ensure one more plate is clean after every meal and recycle a kilogram more of recyclables every month. The efforts may be small alone but will be gargantuan when combined.

  Plastic waster found underwater. To mitigate the consquences of climate change, each of us must play a part, starting by changing our habits and attitutes. SOURCE: CHANNEL NEWS ASIA

On the other hand, our attitude is also important to bring about a positive climate change. This mindset change must spur from taking precedence in saving our Earth. In the case of plastic bag usage, say, we must understand that the supply of plastic bags in commercial trade is a privilege and not a given. Such an attitude works hand in hand with our habits to bring about a positive change in each of us.

If blue were to represent good habits, yellow would represent our attitude. Only when we combine both colours can the planet be saved; can we achieve the most beautiful colour – green.


[1]Watts, Jonathan. "We Have 12 Years to Limit Climate Change Catastrophe, Warns UN." The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 Oct. 2018, www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report.

[2]"Sustainable Seafood." WWF, www.wwf.sg/get_involved/sustainable_seafood/.

[3]Lai, Linette. "Clean Plate Campaign to Prevent Food Waste Launched at Old Airport Road Food Centre." The Straits Times, 16 Oct. 2018, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/clean-plate-campaign-to-prevent-food-waste-launched-at-old-airport-road-food-centre.

[4]Yangchen, Lin. "14,000 Students to Experience Water Rationing." The Straits Times, 1 Mar. 2017, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/14000-students-to-experience-water-rationing.

[5] Lai, Linette. "Clean Plate Campaign to Prevent Food Waste Launched at Old Airport Road Food Centre."The Straits Times, 16 Oct. 2018, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/clean-plate-campaign-to-prevent-food-waste-launched-at-old-airport-road-food-centre.

[6]"Waste Statistics and Overall Recycling." Overview, www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/waste-management/waste-statistics-and-overall-recycling.

[7]"The Monstrous Scale of Plastic Bag Wastage in Singapore." Channel News Asia, 5 Apr. 2018, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/monstrous-scale-plastic-bag-wastage-singapore-charge-recycle-10100010.

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15 - 18
Article

How Singapore Can Avert the Tragedy of the Commons

Gabriel Lee

Dunman High School

Theme: Responsible Consumption and Production

By alluding to ecologist Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons, my article serves to asseverate the importance of responsible consumption and production in the Singaporean context. It explores the ways in which Singapore has been trying to be more accountable in terms of its consumption and production habits, while considering the possibility that our city-state of Singapore may not be so responsible after all when it comes to consumption and production. Lastly, it proffers numerous measures that consumers, producers and the government can adopt to ensure that Singapore is able to avert the Tragedy of the Commons. It also conveys the author's hope that Singapore will eventually be able to achieve the goals set out under the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production.

How Singapore Can Avert the 'Tragedy of the Commons'

An apocalyptic world where natural resources are depleted more expeditiously than they can replenish themselves. A country where citizens produce waste faster than the country’s environmental capacity can support. Companies which embrace planned obsolescence - and unknowingly add on to the amount of waste generated. In 1968, American ecologist Garrett Hardin coined the term "Tragedy of the Commons" to describe the social dilemma whereby individual users who pursue their own self-interest behave contrary to the overall collective welfare of society by depleting or spoiling shared resources through their collective action. For some uncanny reason, Hardin’s words seem to ring truer than ever in the 21st century of today, especially in the area of consumption and production.

Figure 1:  A Pictorial Representation of 'The Tragedy of the Commons' Environmental Conundrum

Figure 1: "The Tragedy of the Commons" Environmental Conundrum

Source: https://blogs.ntu.edu.sg/hp3203-2018-29/tragedy-of-the-commons/

To most, it would definitely appear that the "Tragedy of the Commons" is unlikely to befall upon our city-state of Singapore. Singapore is a perfervid supporter of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of which (Goal 12) espouses the vitality of responsible consumption and production[1]; Singapore-based companies such as KFC have recently embarked on a "No Straws" crusade[2]; a 2015 study published by Nielsen revealed that 55% of Singaporeans were willing to pay more for sustainable products[3]. Indeed, an informal street poll this reporter conducted with 70 respondents revealed that 70% of Singaporeans are confident that Singapore will not face an ecological crisis one day due to its "impeccable waste management system", to put it in the words of one respondent.

Yet, this is merely one side of the picture - we are unfortunately, not as responsible, as we sanguinely think we are. According to BBC[4], the ecological footprint of a Singaporean is 5.9 global hectares, which means to say that it will require 3.4 Earths to support it!

Additionally, despite companies’ attempts to be more responsible production-wise, Singaporeans are arguably unreceptive - after KFC launched its "No Straws" campaign, this reporter noticed that many Singaporeans merely turned to other food-and-business outlets in the vicinity to procure their straws, with ‘victims’ such as Kopitiam at Greenridge Shopping Centre lamenting about the problem - and who were, in turn, publicly slammed for their lack of support for KFC’s environmental move. Mr. Gan Rui Yi, recipient of NEA’s EcoFriend Award, whom this reporter interviewed, expressed his disappointment at this phenomenon, "It takes both hands to clap - consumers must also do their part to reduce waste."

Somewhat ironically, the Nielsen study which revealed that 55% of Singaporeans were willing to pay more for sustainable products also found out that sustainability was not high in terms of Singaporean consumers’ minds especially when contrasted to the region - a staggering 80% of consumers in ASEAN were willing to pay more for sustainable products versus Singapore’s 55%.[3]

The ramifications of an ecological or waste crisis happening to Singapore are unthinkable: economy-wise, it will desecrate our global reputation as a tourism hub and diminish the quality of our exports; geographically speaking, we will run out of already-scarce land to bury our refuse; on the political stage, it will also strain our diplomatic ties with neighbouring countries like Malaysia if they were to be adversely affected by our environmental woes.

How, then, can we avert the insidious "Tragedy of the Commons"? Firstly, the Singapore government should implement more efficacious environmental awareness campaigns that aim to sway the mindsets of consumers towards responsible consumption and recycling; for example, there has yet to be a major campaign centred around encouraging Singaporean consumers to ruminate on their consumption habits - in the words of Melissa Tan, Chairman of the Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore, "what is needed is a mindset change"[5].

We should also encourage more bottom-up campaigns that bring the community together to engage in responsible consumption; for instance, local social enterprise Sustainable Living Lab runs Repair Kopitiam at Tampines and Jurong West, a community initiative this reporter partook in that teaches people how to repair items, including shoes, in an effort to combat "throw-away" items.

Just as importantly, there should also be a paradigm shift in the mindsets of businesses towards responsible production, beyond superficial stints of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Firstly, there needs to be an evolving of the anachronistic business models that have fuelled revenue in the previous century at the cost of the environment to implementing circular initiatives that are regenerative in design; secondly, to adopt science based targets that are grounded in scientific knowledge of how anthropogenic impacts affect vital resources; and thirdly; to engage in Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (MSIs) to direct corporate behaviour in the larger context of society. For instance, many corporations are already engaged in responsible practices - one such example is City Developments Limited (CDL), which owns City Square Mall, an eco-mall this reporter conducted his fieldwork at - this reporter found out that the mall had installed a twin-chute pneumatic refuse system and had environmental messages plastered all over its walls to remind shoppers to consume responsibly.

Figure 3: A Table Highlighting the Ecological Footprints of Countries of One MIllion People or More

Figure 3: Photo Taken of Interior of City Square Mall With Environmental Messages On Walls

But as Hardin rightly opines, conscience should not be heavily relied on to police "commons" - and as such, more governmental legislations should be implemented to mandate responsible production and consumption. For example, Singapore has mandated waste reporting for large commercial premises like shopping malls and hotels, and in July 2016, requirements for businesses to use sustainable resources in packaging and minimise packaging waste overall[6]. Yet, there has notably been a lack of legislation mandating responsible consumption for consumers - for example, unlike countries such as China and Malaysia, Singapore has been hesitant to implement a "plastic bag tax" or ban for fear of backlash; but perhaps now is the time to put in place such legislation so that consumers will internalise the external social costs of their deleterious consumption habits.

In conclusion, the "Tragedy of the Commons" can be averted through responsible consumption and production. The onus is now on Singapore, a champion of environmental causes, to set a role model for other countries by achieving the goals set out under the SDG 12 - and be at the forefront of responsible consumption and production. Let us prove Garrett Hardin wrong.

[1] Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production (n.d.). United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved November 28, 2018 from https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-12-responsible-consumption-and-production.html

[2] Ng, C. (2018, June 18). All 84 KFC outlets to stop providing plastic straws and lids for drinks. The Straits Times. Retrieved November 28, 2018 from https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/food/all-84-kfc-outlets-to-stop-providing-plastic-straws-and-using-plastic-caps-for-drinks

[3] Wong, P. T. (2015, October 16). Sustainability not high up in minds of S’porean consumers. TODAYOnline. Retrieved November 28, 2018 from https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/sustainability-not-high-minds-sporean-consumers

[4] McDonald, C. (2015, June 16). How many Earths do we need? BBC News. Retrieved November 28, 2018 from https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33133712

[5] Aza, W. S. (2016, November 14). Singapore government focuses on recycling, but residents fail to play their part. Retrieved November 28, 2018 from https://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/14/singapore-government-focuses-on-recycling-but-residents-fail-to-play-their-part.html

[6] Tan, W. (2016, July 13). Packaging of consumer products to be regulated. TODAYOnline. Retrieved November 28, 2018 from https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/packaging-consumer-products-be-regulated

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15 - 18
Article

Fashion-driven Pollution?

Theepa Vishali Kanisan

Anderson Junior College

Theme: Responsible Consumption and Production

This article highlights the little-known issue of how our unnecessarily excessive consumption of clothes contributes to the issue of global warming. It draws a link between our consumption, demand and production. It also emphasises the vast amounts of textile waste we generate that we struggle to manage appropriately. Suggested in this article are ways we can combat this problem to become responsible consumers and producers by striking a balance between our needs and wants and developing the habit of thinking about the larger environmental impact our actions have before committing to our personal decisions.

Fashion-driven Pollution?

"Mum jeans" are back. Yes, those light-washed, posterior-flattening and exceptionally high-waisted jeans have made a comeback after once being deemed as unfashionable and having faced great ridicule in the early 2000s. In fact, many clothes of the past that had faded out of fashion magazines have found their way back onto the runway. Fashion is always reinventing itself and in accordance, so are trends and consumers; especially Singaporean consumers who are driven by the ideals of maintaining a good self-image. We find ourselves buying the same clothing, we ironically threw out long ago because they were out of fashion. Our keenness to keep up with the joneses has caused us to be unaware of the large amounts of waste we generate. This is especially so in Singapore where our generally affluence has enabled us to purchase and dispose of our clothes after wearing them a few times, and to become large contributors to textile waste.

What is fast fashion?

Roughly 20 years ago, there was a shift in the fashion industry and clothes became cheaper, trends changed at a faster rate. These made shopping for clothes more accessible and more appealing. Thus, was born Fast Fashion. Clothes from the runway now reached consumers faster and cheaper than ever and people could now dress like their favourite celebrities without breaking the bank.

Fig. 1 Many K-fashion outlets have opened here following the growing interest in Korean Pop Culture

Fig. 1 Many K-fashion outlets have opened here following the growing interest in Korean Pop Culture

(Photo by Takashimaya taken from The Straits Times website)

Globalisation as well as the average Singaporean's relatively high spending power allows us to fuel the demand for Fast Fashion. According to a survey of 1000 people conducted by Channel News Asia for a 2017 documentary, Singaporeans purchase about 34 pieces of brand new garments per year, with almost half of them citing discounts as the main driver for doing so. On average, they throw away 27 items of clothing per year, citing reasons like "making space for new clothes", "no longer fits" and "there are defects".

The Issue

Blinded by their need to keep up with trends, Singaporeans have become unable to see the link between their high consumption of clothing and textile waste. Each piece of clothing is being worn less before being disposed of and this shorter lifespan leads to a greater demand for new clothes causing higher manufacturing emissions. In 2017 alone, about 150 800 tonnes of textile/leather waste was generated with only 6% being recycled. Our strong demand for cheap fast fashion has fuelled production, giving rise to more pollution, contributing to global warming. On top of that, lack of knowledge about proper recycling methods for clothing has led to very poor recycling rates, meaning that most textile waste is simply incinerated, causing more pollution.

What about clothes donation? Couldn't we solve the problem by donating clothes so they can be reused by the needy? On average, the Salvation Army receives about 10 tonnes of donated items per day, about 60 per cent of which is clothing. They receive so many pieces of clothing that only 8-10 per cent of donated clothes can be put on display. The rest are shipped to overseas charities after going through quality checks. While donating is a thoughtful way to deal with the large amount of waste without incineration, it does not nip the problem in the bud to directly reduce consumption or production.

Fig 2. Huge bags of donated clothes are prepared at the Salvation Army's processing centre

Fig 2. Huge bags of donated clothes are prepared at the Salvation Army's processing centre

(Photo by Winnie Goh taken from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/bursting-at-the-seams-singapore-s-cast-off-clothing-7682044)

What can we do?

The responsibility of improving poor recycling rates and reducing unnecessarily excessive consumption of clothes falls on our shoulders. Here are a few points we can take into consideration to become responsible consumers of clothes.

  1. If you really need to get rid of old clothes, remember to go the extra mile to recycle/donate them! When recycling clothes, ensure that they are sealed properly in a bag to prevent cross contamination in recycling bins.
  2. Before shopping, condition yourself to think if you really need that specific piece of clothing and if you already have a similar item. Do not be swayed by promotions or images when shopping online. You do not want to buy something then decide that it does not look good and decide not to wear it. You could always have a friend with you while shopping to keep your purchasing in check!
  3. Seek to purchase clothes based on practicality, quality and comfort above how in trend it is. You can ensure the durability of your clothes to lengthen their lifespan. If all else fails, the timeless standard T-shirt is always in style.
  4. If you are someone who really has a passion for fashion, try clothes rental shops so you can easily return clothes when you feel they do not suit your taste anymore without driving up demand for fast fashion. Thrift shops are also a viable option to find clothes that may interest you. Second-hand is cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
  5. Place a limit on how many times you should purchase clothes in a year. Chinese New Year always comes around!
  6. Upcycle! There are many videos online on how to repurpose old clothing into something trendier or more useful using just a pair of scissors or a needle and thread.

Fig 3. There are many workshops available to learn how to upcycle old clothing

Fig 3. There are many workshops available to learn how to upcycle old clothing

(Photo by Agatha Lee taken from http://www.agytextileartist.com/2017/06/upcycling-workshops-insingapore.html)

As for Producers…

We should not have to sacrifice our desire to look presentable to save the environment but instead we could find a compromise with the help of producers. Local fashion creators, like "Kalaia Label" and "Touch The Toes", are already beginning to make the shift towards eco-friendly clothing incorporating recycled textiles If more of such clothing is featured on the runway, it could manifest into a trend that people covet. This is especially important in Singapore where there is the flawed mentality that wearing reused clothing reflects poorly on one's financial status. In altering fashion, we could be triggering a never before seen movement in fashion where sustainability and aesthetics can meet and coexist harmoniously without hampering our ability to express ourselves.

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19 - 21
Article

Climate Change: Looking Back for a Solution of Today

Loraine Lee Yen

National University of Singapore

Theme: Responsible Consumption and Production

The UN's 12th Sustainable Development Goal on responsible consumption and production highlights a growing issue – we are producing too much waste and pollution. While there is a growing awareness in Singapore, we often find modern approaches to reduce our waste and be more responsible consumers. However, we tend to forget about the older generation, looking for a new and innovative approach to tackling this growing problem. This article takes a step back, looking at how our Grandparents' actions could be an unexpected solution, and how Ms Siew Cheng's mini-garden has impacted our environment in more ways than 1.

Climate Change: Looking Back for a Solution of Today

When we think of solutions against climate change, we think about being more environmentally friendly and wasting less. Many view this as an inconvenience and a modern phenomenon we need more to adapt to with a similarly modern approach, as seen with the metal straw craze and sudden "ban-on-plastic".

However, the last people we often think of practising such solutions this is our grandparents. I remember the second-hand embarrassment as I watched my grandfather pull rolls of plastic bags in NTUC, before stuffing it into a trolley and walking away. I never knew where all those plastic bags went, and maybe I don’t want to know which landfill or ocean it is in now.

Yet, what if I told you one of the ways to mitigate the effects we have on climate change can be drawn by our grandparents?

My Grandma and Her Mini-Garden

My Grandma and Her Mini-Garden

On the 5th floor of an old HDB estate, you’ll find two rows of plants lining the sides of the walkway. Mdm Siew Cheng will be there with her trusty spray bottle and scissors, tending to her garden every day without fail. While she may not be a gardener, she is my grandma and her small garden is one of the ways she practices responsible consumption.

This small garden is home to 16 different vegetables and plants, which my grandma has tended for the past 20 years. Every morning at 6 am without fail, she prunes and sprays her mini-farm and these vegetables feeds our family. Her chye sim with soup and her rosemary with steak are utterly delicious, and our family goes over every Saturday to collect our "share of the harvest".

When I ask her why she goes through the trouble, she responded, "it’s yummy and I save money". Yet, she isn’t aware of the impact her tiny garden has had on the environment other than the fact that it has kept our stomachs filled.

Watering System Installed for the Potted Plants

Watering System Installed for the Potted Plants

To save on money, she has installed recycled plastic bottles to water her plants so that she doesn’t overwater them and only sprays her plants with water when necessary. Her pots are all taken from her neighbours or from the rubbish bin downstairs, recycling what would have ended up in a landfill.

Natural Fertilizer from Leftover Vegetables

Natural Fertilizer from Leftover Vegetables

In her attempt to live healthier, my grandma turned her farm organic as well. Leftover vegetables that would have ended in the dustbin are used as fertiliser for her plants. And after trial and error, my grandma’s home-made pesticide was simply an orange or banana peel left overnight. She found after trial and error that snails and other pests would fester on the peel and she could simply remove them from her vegetables after leaving the peels overnight.

"I don't have to throw rubbish away often now… it's good for my legs too and saves money" was her reason behind all these little actions. However, I was met with an "aiyo no la" and "sure boh" when I shared with her of the positive impacts her actions have had on the environment.

However, one of the biggest impacts her farm has had was reducing plastic and pollution.

When we purchase vegetables from supermarkets, they are often wrapped in plastic and these end up in landfills or polluting the oceans, harming sea creatures. And on tiny island Singapore, the food seen in supermarkets and goods such as pesticide are more often than nought imported from other countries. Yet, we tend to forget the pollution produced when moving these consumer goods from country to country, whether transported by ship, land or air.

Her small actions in making her farm were done to save money and effort, but yet has had such impacts on our environment. Yet ironically, our reasons for not being more environmentally friendly or taking actions against climate change are because it costs extra, or it takes extra effort.

So maybe we don't need an all too modern solution which requires us to buy more metal straws or ship something from overseas. Maybe what we all just need to do is to look at our grandparents' older consumption habits… or just a pot with vegetable seeds.

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11 - 14
Photo

Changi Beach - Litter Battle

Siddhartha Mehta

Global Indian International School

Theme: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Changi Beach - Litter Battle

Changi Beach has been one of the favourite recreation places for families in Singapore since old days. I took this photo during a walk down the beach, which reveals the amount of waste on the beach. This can cause very harmful effects on our environment and nearby aquatic life. Based on my observation, plastics and styrofoam are the top 2 litter found on the beach. Many environmental studies have also proven their harmful effects on the ecosystem.

Hence it’s important for us to understand our shared responsibility to keep the beach clean for our community and future generations. My wish is that collective effort will help Singapore to be a role model as a sustainable city.

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15 - 18
Photo

Nature and Clean Energy as One

Ng Sei Howe

Jurong Pioneer Junior College

Theme: Climate Action

Nature and Clean Energy as One

This photo was taken in Jeju island, South Korea. South Korea is a country with outstanding environmental efforts, and this photo is an evidence of it. Wind turbines, lush nature and clean air with a tint of golden sunlight. Together, it is a place of scenic beauty, a place where power is generated and where nature flourishes. This photo shows the peaceful coexistence between man and nature, where both man and nature benefit due to the production of clean and sustainable energy. It depicts the importance of producing and consuming energy sustainably, to act and fight against climate change! Singapore is known as a garden city. This denotes the coexistence between a city and nature. Hence, this photo strongly depicts how Singapore should interact with nature as well, whereby a city flourishes together with nature and fight against climate change as one.

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19 - 21
Photo

More Than a Baby Step

Lin Qin

Theme: Sustainable Cities and Communities

More Than a Baby Step

This picture is taken at Kentucky Fried Chicken, the first fast food restaurant in Singapore that has abandoned the usage of plastic straws, and even no plastic caps for customers who are dining in. Many people might think that by not using a tiny straw will not have a huge impact on saving the Earth, however the truth is, this small movement will save 17.8 tonnes of single-use plastics in a year. It is definitely More Than a Baby Step. Another heartwarming thing I have observed is that many teenagers around me are making a difference by using reusable straws. I am hopeful for the future, as I can see a sustainable community coming together. Sustainable communities form a sustainable city, I believe that all of our efforts can make the world a greener place.

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15 - 18
Video

Climate Change: An Evergrowing Issue We Must Address Urgently

Lee Yue Long, Jarren

New Town Secondary School

Theme: Climate Action

Climate Change: An Evergrowing Issue We Must Address Urgently

Climate change is a growing issue that we have to address as soon as possible. It is threatening the lives of the future generations but many people choose to ignore the facts and continue to contribute to climate change. Climate change is adversely affecting not just Singapore but the world, such as extreme weather climates like heat waves, and the loss of lives of many. This film serves to impact everyone about the daily habits we do that can contribute to climate change and how we are able to take Climate Action to solve these issues.

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19 - 21
Video

Dear Everyone

Odell Jeremiah Dass

Theme: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Dear Everyone

The submission addresses the need for people to stand up for mother nature in the age of climate change and the modernization of the world. Although the human race is moving forward, it is important to keep in mind the planet we live on and the planet that we call home. So it's time to recycle, it's time to be eco friendly, and it's time we work hand in hand with mother nature. For only then can we really see mother nature flourish and watch her show us her beauty.

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19 - 21
Video

Let's Recharge Our Earth

Nur Atikah Bte Shir Khan

National University of Singapore

Theme: Climate Action

Let's Recharge Our Earth

This campaign is targeted at motivating people to save our Earth by conveying the message that saving the Earth is not as hard or troublesome as it seems. With the constant advancement of technology, people are constantly glued to their devices, mindful or not. The video leverages on this and creates an analogy, describing people as electrons powering our everyday devices. Social media and real-life campaigns have been targeting at raising awareness for climate change and it is a topic that people are aware of. This campaign, thus, uses the opportunity to change the habits of people into eco-friendlier measures so that everyone can practise climate action.

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