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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Going Green in Singapore - Swapaholic Event

Swapaholic is a clothing & accessory swap that helps de-clutter and refresh your closet; without hurting your wallet and our planet.
 
swapaholic going green singapore
 
 It's the perfect solution for you to get rid of items in your closet that no longer fit your shape, taste or lifestyle; and replace them with pieces that are more relevant to the mood you are in. This enables you to prolong the life span of your beloved possessions by finding new owners who will cherish them. And as a feather in your cap, when you swap you save the planet by:
  • no longer discarding good quality items that will end up in landfills where they will harmfully decompose
  • discouraging fast fashion brands from wastefully creating products that exploit human and natural resources
FASHION REVOLUTION and SWAPAHOLIC come together to present to you, the ultimate CLOTHES SWAP event
 
DATE:  29th April, Saturday
TIME:  4-7 pm
LOCATION: Chijmes, Singapore

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Behavioral Change Needed to Reduce the Use of Plastic Bags in Singapore

In 2011 alone, consumers in Singapore used approximately 3 billion plastic bags. The alarming figure has prompted concerned members of the public to write to environmental organizations, newspapers and online forums calling for a ban or a tax to be levied on plastic bags. A few have also called on the government to enforce this through legislation. However, the other end of the spectrum also sees consumers who view the distribution of free plastic bags a convenience that they are not willing to give up.
 
The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) released a position paper in September 2013 highlighting the findings of consumer behavior and attitudes towards plastic bags and reusable bags and a broad range of recommendations to mitigate the wasteful use of plastic bags in Singapore. “The findings in SEC's paper shows that the usage of plastic bags in Singapore is a complex and multi-faceted issue for which there is no simple solution. Economic considerations have to be balanced with environmental, commercial and even personal interests. The recommendations shared by the position paper forms the catalyst for definitive action by individuals, retailers and the government. It is the starting point for a national discourse on changing consumer behavior regarding the use of plastic bags,” said Mr. Jose Raymond, Executive Director of the SEC.
 
According to Jose, “from consumers to retailers, each of us has a crucial role to play in ensuring a successful switch of mindset. A paradigm shift comes not from one party alone, but from a concerted effort of the people and the public and private sectors. We believe this proposal will bear fruit when Singaporeans see the long-term benefits it brings to generations down the road.”
 
Led by Principal Project Researcher, Ms. Vaidehi Hemant Shah, a set of survey questions was designed to investigate how households in Singapore obtain and reuse plastic bags. The survey targeted 2,500 participants who were Singaporeans or Permanent Residents, aged 15 years and above and living in various types of households. Apart from working with the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and the National Environment Agency, the SEC conducted focus group discussions involving members of the public and senior management representatives from Singapore’s major retailers. In addition, five in-depth interviews were conducted with stakeholders from the academic, environmental and manufacturing sectors, as well as the general public. “The aim was to reach out to as diverse a group as possible so that the results would be representative of what was the ground sentiment, and also to understand the problems from as many angles as possible,” said Ms Shah.
 
Approximately 33% of the 2,500 respondents polled indicated that they waste all or some of the plastic bags given out for free at supermarkets. The statistic of 8.5% of the respondents who reported recycling plastic bags showed a usage pattern where plastic bags are not being reused. In addition, the survey revealed the foremost reason for not using reusable bags is the free availability of the plastic bags in supermarkets. Other commonly cited reasons were unplanned shopping trips and forgetting to bring usable bags. Although 90% of the 2,500 respondents indicated that the plastic bags were reused to dispose of general waste, some households are storing quantities of plastic bags in excess of what they need for waste disposal. 8.5% would recycle the bags while 6.3% of participants highlighted that they would throw away the bags without reusing them. The findings reinforced the need for greater awareness among consumers, and a relook at the waste collection infrastructure while still addressing public hygiene concerns.
 
One participant mentioned the excessive use of plastic bags at bakeries, which saw pastries individually wrapped with plastic sheets, and found to have little or no use thereafter. This also highlighted the need to look at the potential reusability of smaller plastic bags. The position paper made several recommendations in light of the findings.
 
The list of recommendations is as follows:
 
- A nationwide “Bring Your Own Bag Everyday” programme should be initiated by the government, in collaboration with 3P stakeholders. It should be compulsory for all commercial establishments to participate in this programme.
 
- Initiatives to curb plastic bag wastage (e.g. charging, awareness initiatives, etc.) should focus more strongly on eliminating the use of bags with lower potential for secondary use, such as food bags, and smaller plastic bags given out at convenience stores and hawker stalls.
 
- Vendors at F&B outlets (e.g. hawker stalls, coffee shops and food courts) should be encouraged to offer customers a rebate for rejecting small-sized bags and disposable plates, cups and utensils in favor of their own reusable items.
 
- Rethink current waste management infrastructure especially the convenience of rubbish chutes in every household.
 
- Retailers should stand firm in their resolve to have cashiers ask if customers really need plastic bags, and collect the extra charge per plastic bag on weekends as part of the “Bring Your Own Bag Everyday” campaign, despite potential customer complaints.
 
- Retailers should be transparent about the number of plastic bags used per year, and the cost incurred by procuring these plastic bags.
 
- More financial and programme support needs to be extended to ground-up initiatives targeted at reducing plastic bag wastage in Singapore.
 
- In order to overcome the “lack of mindfulness” barrier wherein consumers may forget to bring reusable bags on shopping trips, or not have reusable bags with them when making unplanned purchases, retailers can place bins containing second-hand reusable bags near cashier counters.
 
- To ensure that environmental education about this issue begins from a young age, all schoolchildren in Singapore can be equipped with a “no-waste toolkit”.
 
- The Bring Your Own Bag Everyday campaign should kick off with an immediate education and awareness campaign, followed by the mandatory charge on weekends six months after the campaign is formally launched.
 
“All the recommendations put forth in this position paper would require a concerted effort from stakeholders such as the government, retailers, academic organizations, environment specialists and the public,” added Mr. Raymond.
 
The SEC welcomes opportunities for collaboration with all stakeholders to reduce plastic bag wastage in Singapore, and also plans to embark on an outreach and education campaign in 2014.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Starting a Recycling Programme at Work

If your company or organization already has a recycling programme, that’s good and you can recycle at work. If not, and you want to start one, just follow these 6 simple steps to minimise waste and start recycling at work.
 
1. Get Commitment and Form a Team. Highlight the benefits of waste minimisation and recycling to your management and colleagues, and get their commitment and support. Form a team to be in-charge of the waste minimisation and recycling programme, and ensure that resources are allocated to implement the programme.
 
2. Conduct a Waste Audit. A waste audit involves finding out the type and quantity of waste generated, and how the waste are generated and disposed. This audit would help you to identify the problems and opportunities for waste reduction. Learn how to conduct a waste audit.
 
3. Minimise Waste Through Reduce and Reuse. Based on the waste audit, identify the major waste types and find ways to minimise the waste generation. Reduce them at the source of generation or divert them from disposal through reuse. Refer to our Reduce and Reuse categories for ideas.
 
4. Set Up a Recycling Programme. After your waste minimisation efforts, identify the remaining waste that can be recycled. Find a recycling contractor to provide recycling bins and collection services. First, you can approach your current waste contractor and check whether they can provide recycling services.
 
For commercial buildings and industrial estates with recycling programmes, recycling bins or skips are usually placed at certain locations and the recyclables are collected by the recycling contractor. To find a recycling collector or someone who wants your waste, check out NEA’s list of collectors and traders.
 
5. Educate Staff on How to Recycle. Educate staff on the new recycling programme – the location of recycling bins, what can be recycled, and where the recyclables end up. The education could be conducted through events, talks and through posters.
 
6. Review and Improve. Gather feedback about the recycling programme from the staff and conduct checks on the recycling bins to ensure that the correct items are recycled. Monitor the amount of waste generated and recycled. Adjust and improve the recycling programme if necessary.
 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Actions for Earth: The dangers of rising sea levels

Research has shown that sea levels around the world has been rising at a rate of 3.5 millimeters a year since the early '90s. Left unchecked, this trend puts thousands of coastal cities at risk of being claimed by the ocean.
 
Over the last century, the burning of fossil fuels by man has released enormous amounts of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere causing the Earth's surface temperature to rise. As the ocean covers a significant portion of the earth's surface, the oceans absorb about 80 percent of this additional heat.
 
While miniscule increases in temperature may seem harmless, it is not. As water heats up, it expands and as the oceans expands, it occupies more space leading to a rise in sea levels. Additionally, persistently higher temperatures have caused more melting of the polar ice-caps. As they melt more water is added to the oceans resulting in rising sea levels.
 
It is important to note that rising sea not only affect people living in coastal cities. When coastal habitats are affected, seawater will reach farther inland and it will cause destructive erosion, flooding of wetlands, contamination of aquifers and agricultural soils, and lost habitat for fish, birds, and plants. And, when a large storms hit land, higher sea levels mean bigger, more powerful storm surges that can strip away everything in their path.
 
In short, we all live in a closely interrelated world. What affects one man, will invariably affect all man. Global warming is thus a battle which all of us must fight and we can do our part by taking actions for earth. Reduce, reuse and recycle.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Actions for Earth: Why every little bit counts ...

Being an environmentalist can be lonely. Everyday you do your part by taking actions for earth, but it seems that no one else seems to care.

From the simple acts you do like using a cup to brush your teeth, taking public transport to work, using the stairs instead of the elevator and even recycling your own coffee mug, it seems that you are the only one taking actions for earth. Seeing this on a daily basis is enough to make even the most committed of green activists wonder if it is all worth it and whether their actions are making a difference.

Our answer to you is yes it does! Every little action you take, no matter how insignificant it may seem is making a difference. Even if you reduce waste by 100 grams a day, cumulatively in 1 year, you would have saved 36.5 kg of waste. This is not an insignificant amount.

In a population of 4 million people, even if only 1% saves 100 grams a day, the figure works out to close to over 1.4 tonnes of waste. A saving which translates into eliminating the need for landfills equivalent to 5 football fields.

So our point is this. Don't be discouraged when it seems that you are the only one taking actions for earth. Just remember that you are a part of a larger movement and that together, our cumulative actions are making a difference.