According to Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of sustainability is “the property of being environmentally sustainable; the degree to which a process or enterprise is able to be maintained or continued while avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources.”

Being a small yet resourceful country, I am glad we do not need to fret over the scarcity of food, electricity and water yet. That is why we cannot depend on others for our survival! We need to be sustainable for ourselves, by ourselves so that we do not take our resources for granted.

In our previous 3 articles, SCOOP shared about the 3Rs’ effort (Recycle, Reuse, Reduce). These efforts are commendable and required everyone to do their part. As we learnt about the 3Rs, there are other small active ways which could help us to stay committed to combat climate change as a nation together.

Introducing 5 active ways to build a sustainable Singapore for each of us to contribute in our small ways to create a big impact on combating climate change.

#1: Start from home

tap off

Cultivate a habit begins by doing it daily just like turning off all the taps at home when not in use.

What is the first thing you would do when you wake up other than opening up your eyes, turning off the alarm of your phone and scrolling mindlessly on social media platforms?

It will be to brush your teeth and wash up your face!

running tap with cup

How many of you use a plastic mug to contain the running water when you rinse your teeth?

running tap without cup

Or you simply let the water run till you are done with the brushing?

According to PUB, you save 11 litres when you rinse your teeth with a tumbler instead of running tap! The next time you decided to shower or wash your hands or rinse your teeth with running tap, remember every drop of water counts and counts into your utility bill as well!

Moving on, what are your thoughts on having multiple plugs on the pocket extension sockets?

power socket with plugs

Do you leave your plugs in the socket when not in use too?

Have you heard of vampire power? Vampire power occurred when you switched off all power in the socket and leave the plugs in the socket in a standby mode. This cause leaking electricity to continue to consume by the electric appliances while they are switched off.

Do not underestimate the power of standby mode as they quietly consumed the electricity cost of your household. Remove all plugs from the sockets if unused and monitor your electricity consumption to see if it helps in reducing the electricity cost!

Small changes in your routine at home will help to save not just your money but also the climate!


#2: Practice makes perfect  


Recall the times where you comfortably sitting at hawker centres, coffee shops, fast food places, restaurants and canteens as you savour your food with your loved ones. After a hearty meal together, do you leave the used crockery on the table or return all to the Return Station?

You may have various reasons why you leave the used crockery at your table such as:
  1. To ensure that the cleaners have a job.
  2. Entitled not to clear because it is the cleaner’s job, not the consumers’.
  3. Unable to locate the return station.
  4. The Return Station is very dirty and far.
  5. The Return Station is full or spoilt.
  6. Herd mentality (My friends did not clear the used crockery, so I should not do it as I do not want to be a sore thumb).
You may also have various reasons why you return your tray such as:
  1. Personal belief (taught from young to be kind, considerate and self-responsible for your own action).
  2. The next consumers were eyeing your table and you want to make it clean for them to use without being judged.
  3. You found a table full of unreturned crockery and you couldn’t find the cleaners to clean for you, so you did it yourself.
  4. Peer-pressure (My friends clear their used crockery, so I should clear too even though I might not have this habit).

Do you know that cleaning companies cannot hire enough cleaners and the existing cleaners faced difficulties to cope with cleaning crockery and tables, especially during the peak hours?

Having you to play a part by returning the used crockery allow the cleaners to focus on cleaning the tables which will increase the turnover rate of clean tables for consumers. This will also enable stallholders to serve more customers. You will see lesser birds and pests eating leftover food on the unreturned crockery.

return own tray

Regardless of the reasons you might have for returning and not returning the crockery, the more you practice to be considerate, the more you will realise that equal sharing of loads will help you to be a better person, the stallholders can serve more consumers and make dining places a better environment for consumption.


#3: Better environment starts from you

bus car photo

During Circuit Breaker, there are definitely lesser cars on the road because all are advised to stay at home. Moreover, car servicing companies are considered non-essential services which are not allowed to be open. However, as soon as Phase 1 of re-opening Singapore starts, we witnessed a surge of cars and human traffic appearing on the road similar to the scene of pre-Circuit Breaker.

People are afraid to take public transport during this period for fear that they might contract COVID-19 from potential asymptomatic people. Hence, more people are taking private hire transportation.

According to MEWR, carbon emissions make up 97% of the total greenhouse gas emissions which causes more heat to be trapped into the atmosphere, resulting in climate change. The build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases make Singapore’s weather hotter and increase the sea level too.

Other than taking public transport, you can play a part to reduce the carbon emission by walking or cycling to your destination if within your physical and geographical limitation!

With the convenience of having park connectors in Singapore, one can cycle from one park to another park while enjoying the scenery just like my friend who shared about his cycling details:

You may also consider taking a hitch, shared ride or car-sharing services to reduce the number of cars on the road too!

modo coop

Credit: Modo Co-op

 Just like Modo Co-op in Vancouver, Canada, car-sharing co-operative which enable members to access car when they need to avoid the costs and environmental impact of owning a car while reducing the carbon emission in Vancouver. The members drive 1,400 kilometres a year on average, in comparison to 6,000 – 24,000 kilometres on average than other drivers in the region.

Furthermore, having more trees not only provide shade to pedestrians or aesthetically pleasing to eyes, but trees also use carbon dioxide to create food and energy for themselves.

When you drive along the route at Changi Airport or East Coast Park, you will know that it was not just to attract tourists to think that Singapore is a greenery country but a country which reduces carbon emission through the planting of trees!

ICA Youth plant sampling

Credit: Ahsan Ali Thakur

As SNCF celebrates the International Co-operative Day on 4 July 2020 with the theme Co-operatives for Climate Action, co-operators especially the youth are encouraged to plant tree samplings ethically to fight the climate change to benefit the community and for the future. You may contribute in your small way by having greens at home too!


#4: Say no to wastage


Do you buy in bulk for a good reason like the above where the SNCF Campus and Youth Team bought food items to appreciate our healthcare workers? Or you buy in bulk in anticipation of the potential Circuit Breaker back then so that you will not need to travel?

I have to admit that whenever I go for my supermarket trips this period, I tend to buy more in bulk thinking that I will finish up within two weeks, especially when I purchase fresh food. To my horror, I am guilty to share that I have thrown away broccoli, tomato and corn which stored in the fridge but was spoilt eventually.

The more you waste food, the more food has to be sourced to meet the demand which will affect Singapore’s food security as Singapore import over 90% of its food supply!

The first step to play a part to say no to wastage is to come up with a shopping list to buy, order and cook what I need.

shopping list

If not, when I ordered food from the stall owners, I will request for the portion that I can finish the food.

paper bag

With the plastic or paper bags generated from all my purchases, I can either reuse it for my own household use or share with others who need it at the reusable corner.


#5: Explore clean energy

solar panel pexels

Using conventional energy sources such as fossil fuels for power consumption results in the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. While climate change poses a significant global challenge to every country, it also provides a strong push for entrepreneurship, Research and Development and problem-solving to prepare for the future.

Green technology such as solar energy remains as the only possible renewable energy sources due to the limitation of land in Singapore. How about other countries coping with exploring clean energy?

gurye natural dream park Gurye Natural Dream Park
Credit: iCOOP Korea

iCOOP Korea from South Korea has invested in solar energy generation and geothermal-energy for its product and logistics centres at Gurye Natural Dream Park. iCOOP also focuses on displacing imports of fertile and animal feed to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. This not only creates career opportunity but educating people about clean energy while addressing the need to fight the climate change!

As simple as buying a calculator powered by solar energy to using electrical cars for energy consumption on the road, we can fight climate change even with the limited opportunity we have.

Every decision you make, don’t make or leave others to make will impact your future. Everyone plays a part in fighting the climate changes though the results may take years or generation to impart Singapore. Using the passion and impact that you have by owing the sustainability of Singapore through the small active ways such setting a co-operative business with climate change as the social cause to educate and provide employment opportunities to benefit the communities as the nation developed.