IMPACT 0203: A YOUTH’S PERSPECTIVE ON TAKING ACTION FOR SUSTAINABILITY
Teng Chu Yu, 22, is the coordinator of Students Taking Action for NUS to Divest (STAND). She is involved in the self-initiated group project to increase the accessibility of corporate sustainability resources for youths and SMEs. She also works on research and social media as part of the ground-up environmental group LepakinSG.
1. Make it easier for yourself.
Be as well-informed as possible on issues such as sustainability, especially if we hope to educate others on the topic. Follow Instagram accounts and Telegram channels with bite-sized breakdowns of sustainability-related news both local and global. Build up your capacity to become more sustainable, and make conscious plans to take action.
2. Identify your unique position and where you can make the most impact
If you’re a teacher, consider discussing with your colleagues about ways to incorporate environmental news into your lessons. If you’re a member of a company, identify small steps your company can take to become more sustainable, like reviewing the manufacturing process to see if water, energy and other resources can be minimised.
Actively seek out industry or sector-specific resources and more systemic or structural pathways towards change.
3. Challenge the status quo
If your organisation’s Board of Trustees and Investment Office are not making investment decisions that are in line with your organisation’s values and/or social contracts, talk to them and try to understand where they are coming from.
Talk about the power that they have in advancing sustainability within the organisation and the field they are in. If the sustainability initiatives you are proposing to them are out of the industry’s norm, invite them to be first movers and trailblazers.
4. Prepare yourself mentally for the challenges ahead
Not every initiative or idea will work out the way we want, but there are some that will. It all depends on our ever-changing temporal and spatial contexts. What might work now might not work tomorrow, and vice versa!
You never know which initiatives will make it to completion, even if other communities have successfully run them, but you can always reach out to your peers, bounce ideas and learn from one another’s past experiences. Check out existing initiatives and resources; build on them instead of simply replicating them.
5. Pick your battles
Before taking on just any challenge, think first about how you can tackle them towards common goals and interests. Be aware of the limited time and energy that you have and pick your fights accordingly.
Check in regularly with your teammates and fellow activist friends regarding each of your mental well-being. Burnouts are very real – don’t get caught up in the “doing” and underestimate the weight of what you’re undertaking!
6. Remember why you started
Personally, seeing the good work of my fellow environmentally conscious friends and the people who inspire me in this field reminds me of what I started out aiming for. In no particular order, I would like to give a special shoutout to Coco, founder of @projectbecome, Xiang Tian, co-founder of @lepakinsg, Tammy, who’s also a part of @badactivistcollective, the ever-inspiring Melissa from the NUS Energy Studies Institute, Carla, Qiyun, and Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson.
It’s also important to regularly check in with yourself and remind yourself of why you started. Ultimately, only you can push yourself ahead for the long haul!
If you’d like to learn more about the myriad of sustainability issues out there, please check out the resources shared on @divestnus, @lepakinsg, @nusvege and this web space! If you’d like to chip in for the environmental and ethical issues we work on in whatever capacity you have, feel free to DM me on Instagram @consciousmochiii.