Conversations on SG Green Plan (Session 6) Highlights
Conversation on Singapore Green Plan: Say Yes to Waste Less
NYC, National Environment Agency (NEA) and ITE College Central co-organised a Zoom engagement on “Conversation on Singapore Green Plan 2030: Say Yes to Waste Less” on 15 August 2022, involving 57 virtual participants and the following speakers.
- Ms Kwok Xiao Wei, Executive Manager, Public Engagement Group, National Environment Agency (NEA)
- Ms Yien Li Yap, Country Lead, OLIO
- Ms Farah Sanwari, Co-founder, FiTree
- Mr Heng Li Seng, Founder and CEO, Green Nudge
Here are the key insights of the panel dialogue:
It is urgent for Singaporeans to work together to reduce waste
- In Singapore, waste disposed of has increased seven-fold over the last 40 years. At this rate, Pulau Semakau, Singapore’s only landfill, will run out of space by 2035. Waste incineration also produces carbon emissions which further contribute to climate change.
- The “Say Yes to Waste Less” campaign aims to address climate change and save resources (e.g. oil, water and energy) that are used to produce disposables and encourages Singaporeans to adopt a sustainable lifestyle by reducing waste.
- To move toward becoming a Zero Waste Nation, Singaporeans can make small lifestyle changes such as switching to reusable carrier bags, bottles and containers and buying only what they need.
Inconvenience and a “kiasu” mindset are barriers to reducing waste
- The participants shared that adopting a sustainable lifestyle is a “hassle” as it was inconvenient to reduce the use of disposables by bringing their own reusable items. They said that Singaporeans had a “kiasu” mindset and would not hesitate to take free items when offered.
- The participants called for businesses and consumers to be more conscious about making sustainable choices, such as shops limiting the number of plastic bags provided and refusing disposable cutlery when ordering food from delivery apps. Additionally, participants said that disincentives such as the plastic bag charge served as a good deterrent.
Youths can look forward to an increase in green job opportunities as part of the green economy
- Ms Kwok shared that green jobs were roles that provided environmentally-friendly goods and services (e.g. sustainability manager, a technician in manufacturing plants, data analyst etc.) and that it was a growing industry.
- The panellists said that youths could incorporate a sustainability mindset in their future careers, such as by addressing the issue of food waste in the food and beverage industry or looking into reducing plastic waste in product design.
Youths can lead the change starting by incorporating sustainable behaviours in their everyday lives
- The panellists encouraged youths to set positive examples by making small changes, demonstrating that being sustainable was not difficult.
- They suggested some easy ways to incorporate sustainable behaviours such as: (i) making more conscious purchases by using online platforms such as Carousell or OLIO, (ii) reducing the use of disposables by bringing along reusable items such as containers and bags, and (iii) sharing reusable items among friends and colleagues to encourage a shift in mindset.
- The panellists advised participants to prioritise the environment, leading youths to be more conscious about their actions and consumption habits. They also encouraged youths to build up sustainable habits over time and to be kind to themselves when they could not make sustainable choices.