It was fantastic to hear that 2018 will be designated the “Year of Climate Action” for Singapore and that the Government will be ramping up efforts to encourage Singaporeans to reduce waste and do their part for the environment (“S’pore declares 2018 as ‘Year of Climate Action’”, Nov 17).
I would like to contribute some ideas for this nation-wide initiative to “bring into the national consciousness the impacts of climate change and the urgency of reducing our carbon footprint to build a sustainable future for generations to come”.
Firstly, there is an urgent need to encourage Singaporeans to use less plastic.
It was reported that in Singapore, 824,600 tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2015, but just 7 per cent was recycled. This proportion has been roughly unchanged since 2001.
A study released in January by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation during the World Economic Forum in Davos warned that unless we radically reduce the amount of plastic waste, there could be as much plastic in the sea by 2050 as fish.
I’ve noticed that food and beverage establishments here tend to generate significant plastic waste. In hawker centres, disposable cutlery is given or taken, even though people who are taking away food would have cutlery at home or in office. Many hawkers use disposable cups and even when people are eating there.
Some hawkers told me that it is to save money and for convenience. If that is case, would the Government consider introducing some subsidies to help these hawkers so that they would be encouraged to not use disposables?
Also, it was great to know that four schools, namely Regent Secondary School, Nan Chiau High, Pei Hwa Secondary School and Nan Chiau Primary School, are making an effort to not use straws for drinks (“Straw-free Tuesdays get youth started on plastic-lite journey”; Oct 13). If we could extend this campaign to all schools and also to the public, that would really help us to reduce wastage.
Plastic straws are often used once and not a necessity. They are hazardous as waste because they may end up lodged in the nostrils of sea turtles and perforating the stomachs of sea birds.
Finally, we could also encourage Singaporeans to reduce meat intake. A study in 2014, reported by the World Economic Forum, showed that meat consumption leads to more greenhouse-gas emissions by global livestock industries annually than the use of cars.
Eating less meat is not only beneficial for the environment but also one’s own health, as a study by Duke-NUS Medical School showed that those who had higher intake of red meat had a 23 per cent increase in risk of diabetes compared to those with a lower intake (“S’pore study confirms red meat and diabetes link”, Sept 6).
This article was first published on Today. Click here to access the article.