With reference to the DPM’s press statement at Singapore G1 event (link): Yes. Climate Change is real and it is a problem that we all have a role in solving. The DPM is also to be applauded for pointing out that climate change is not a distant problem; a can that is to be kicked down the road for future generations to take care of.
The first step begins with public education on the issue. An example of which is the upcoming exhibit, Our Green Home, that is being put together by the National Climate Change Secretariat. But more needs to be done on everyone’s part. Not just the government.
First of all we need to start with the reduction in the national consumption of plastic bags. As the younger generation who will inherit this world from our parents and grandparents it is imperative for us to educate our elders on why it is important for them to stop asking for more plastic bags from the local NTUC supermarket and switch to using our own tote bags.
Our elders could hide behind the excuse of not understanding why plastic bags are bad for our environment, but as a more informed generation it is OUR duty to educate them and help foster a community that understands that we all have a stake in our environment’s well being. Have a serious talk with your parents, or grandparents. Gently talk to them and use the emotional appeal that what they do today affects your tomorrow. You will be surprised how often that gets our elders to start being more mindful of their consumption pattern.
Secondly, we can, nay must, do away with the use of Styrofoam as packing containers for food when we order take out. Not only is Styrofoam non-biodegradable and unrecyclable when stained by food, it is also bad for our health!
For the uninitiated, Styrofoam contains neurotoxins styrene and benzene both chemicals are widely known to be compounds that cause cancer within the human body. These chemicals are leeched into food that is acidic or warm or greasy. So pretty much any of the hawker or restaurant fair we order and carry away in Styrofoam will end up poisoning us in the long run. And yes this also applies to the drink that you sip out of the Styrofoam cup that you use at catered parties. So what is the solution to Styrofoam food packaging then?
Start by carrying your own Tupperware containers and utensils. Sure you end up with having to clean up after yourself, but it is a small price to pay compared to the fortune you would be wasting on energy fees for air conditioning as the planet gets hotter. Also Styrofoam is a plastic and plastic is made from oil. A reduction on plastic consumption and usage lowers our overall carbon footprint. Not to mention the fact that with every bit that is done to combat climate change, we slowly start to reduce extreme weather changes that are caused by an overabundance of heat that is being trapped in our atmosphere. This pays off in the long run in terms of fewer crop failures due to drought or flooding. Food prices will stabilize (assuming there is no interference within the commodity markets) and as Singaporeans we will face reduced inflation on our food. Now wouldn’t that be a lark?!
Thirdly the government can do its part to encourage national recycling habits by tweaking some of its policies. It can start by fine-tuning the education system to teach the young the value of recycling and encouraging them to develop the habit from young. This should be done in tandem with parents who also have to do their part imparting to their children that what they do today does affect their future.
If we can start with these minor steps towards a greener Singapore then perhaps we will be ready to take on the role of becoming a green model for our neighbors within the region and take on bigger green initiatives within our city to do our part in the fight against climate change.