“We are true millennials in that we all have metal straws and bring our own bottles and cutlery, use less plastic and all that jazz, but is it enough?”
“The Earth is dying.”
This was the general consensus amongst the five Singaporean youths I spoke with on sustainable development in the Garden City. They believe sustainable development is the growing of an economy or the running of a country that is non-detrimental to the environment.
It is ending resource exploitation, developing infrastructure that can be sustained by resources non-finite, and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle, particularly to help reduce waste or products.
The youths are worried. Economies in Singapore and beyond are still operating at the expense of the natural environment, greatly contributing to climate change and the domino effect that comes with it. They worry for the current generation and generations after who have to deal with these effects. Despite being branded as a green city, there is more the Singaporean government can do to act on the environmental issues at hand.
These Singaporean millennials tell us exactly why.
What are your thoughts on Singapore’s efforts to push for sustainability?
Ads, F, 23: The government doesn’t care about the environment and green washes everything, marketing us as the Garden City. On a personal level, I think there’s a lot of changes that we make as individuals which is great.
Shivaani, F, 22: We need to do better. It is sad because research shows that Singapore only engages in sustainability efforts if it is 1) economically profitable (metal straws) and 2) If it builds Singapore as a green city (e.g. Gardens by the Bay). Our efforts as a nation are geared towards projecting an image rather than actual conservation.
Zahin, M, 24: I feel that Singapore should push more aggressively for sustainability.
Zah, F. 23: A lot more could be done.
Emily, F, 25: Not the best. We use plastic so much! There is lack of concern in the matter of how much plastic we use because we are a first world country. People place efficiency over everything. It’s cheaper and it’s easier – anything to help businesses. (E.g supermarket’s use of plastic or small food stalls that provide takeaway.)
Renzo, M, 22: Singapore is doing an impressive job pushing sustainability, however to properly succeed they would need to support other countries in this endeavour as well.
When asked to rank sustainability issues by order of importance, the youths ranked water use and conservation, energy use and conservation and biodiversity and natural resources as the top three sustainability issues which required for immediate action. Air emissions and air quality, wastes and indigenous peoples were also chosen. When asked about their choices, this was what they had to say.
Ads, F, 23: The Earth is dying and we need to drastically change how we consume / get energy, and be aware of what we are producing / outputting. Also let’s be real, it might be easier for us to get large companies to care about the environment than it would be for people to care about what they do to their workers, because at least it’s fashionable to be a “green company” or “green country.”
Shivaani, F, 22: Water, i think is one of the most important resource! Also, in light of climate change, many minority communities are deemed as sacrifice zones (eg. Island nations). Their needs need to be addressed and taken into consideration as well.
Zahin, M, 24: These sustainability issues (Energy use and conservation, Water use and conservation, and Biodiversity and natural resources), I feel have a more present and lasting effect on the environment and affecting quality of living.
Zah, F. 23: In a country like Singapore, clean drinking water has always been an issue / is scarce so therefore it is precious. Also, we are literally killing the environment so biodiversity should be addressed too (and other precious resources)
Emily, F, 25: Difficult to chose but ultimately, all of the above attributes to the condition of how we and our future children want to live as a society. Clean air, water and safe conditions are vital for sustaining future generations.
Renzo, M, 22: These issues can be addressed more easily through government intervention with sufficient funding, the rest require the active participation of the population with regards to change which will result in lengthy discussions on ethics.
How do you and your peers participate in a sustainable lifestyle?
Ads, F, 23: Stojos(collapsible reusable cups), tapao-ing (baon / taking out) in our own lunch boxes, trying to live plastic-free. It’s hard to change lifestyles but some people are making an effort which is great. I guess it is fashionable now to be sustainable but there’s more we can do and I hope we work towards that.
Shivaani, F, 22: Reduce waste, recycle more, avoid unnecessary plastic use. Every small action counts.
Emily, F, 25: My colleague and I try to be sustainable by using things that reduce waste such as metal straws, reusable cups for our daily coffee. Occasionally we try not to use one time use plastic utensils when taking away food for our lunch. At home, I try to turn off lights and fans when not in use. It also saves money. When shopping, as much as I can, I try to put my purchase in my bag to reduce the amount of plastic bags used. My family (my mom and I only if I’m honest) recycles glass or plastic containers when possible! I also try to remind my boyfriend not to keep the fridge door open when he is not using it. (He never listens).
Renzo, M, 22: Recycling and proper waste management.
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