April 22 is Earth Day and there is still a lot we must do for our planet to strive on. Everyone should
be familiar with the urgent need to be sustainable – we are filling up our precious planet with waste,
increasing its temperatures, changing the weather, killing off animals, perhaps even killing ourselves.
The question, is how do we stop this? How do we get people to care? Science Centre Singapore is
proud to have the Climate Action Show (CAS) Theatre, newly opened in Hall B. Visitors will
learn more about how drastically the Earth has evolved, the changes humanity is working on, and
what we can do to help save the Earth. ISTS asks Ms Pek Hai Lin, volunteer at Zero Waste SG, and Ms Nor Lastrina Hamid, co-founder of the Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYCA), who are also featured in the CAS Theatre.
@Ms Pek Hai Lin
1. In your vignette, you mentioned that ‘change starts with ourselves’, how can the actions of individuals move forward into creating greater change?
Being conscious of how we are using and consuming items/resources around us might be the first step to take. Our actions also reflect signals that we send to businesses and our community about changes we would like to see – we do not have to accept items or packaging we do not need, for instance. We can think about how we might use our own sphere of influence at work and at home to make more sustainable changes or start having conversations to engage people around us. We can praise a company doing good or ask them questions on what they are doing as a responsible business to be accountable to their stakeholders and customers (us!). Changes can be big or small according to what you are ready for; doing something is always better than not doing anything at all.
2. What do you think about the concept of BIFL (Buy-it-for-life), in both ideology and practicability?
Not everything can last forever, unfortunately. One of the most sustainable things we can do is to use what we already have, but if we do need to purchase something, we can consider doing so with intention, by considering a few things: 1. Do I foresee myself using this for the long haul, or is this meant for something ad-hoc? 2. Would I be able to get something similar from my family or friend who is currenly not using it (apps like Olio and Carousell greatly widens our circles to get items in great condition too!)
3. How can one individual stay motivated in fighting against climate change and keeping themselves mindful of their waste?
Fighting climate change is more like a marathon rather than a sprint; not all changes, especially big ones, can happen overnight. No matter what position you play in society (student, parent, co-worker, etc.), something can be done as an individual to build towards a collective impact, and although it may take time, change can happen, and is already happening progressively. Even if it might get tiring or confusing sometimes, know that we are not alone in this, and we just do what we can, together!
@Ms Nor Lastrina Hamid
1. Why should youths in Singapore volunteer in taking action against climate change?
Climate change is an urgent and existential threat. In the last few years, we have learned about this crisis even more thanks to many campaigns and agreements, which I will provide below under ‘resources’. I feel it is up to the current youth population, who will be most impacted by the severity of climate change in the years to come, to step up, and do what we can to address climate change. In this regard, I wish to highlight three points.
First, for everyone to acknowledge we have varying levels of knowledge and perceptions of the climate crisis, that we all have different benchmarks of what individuals, organisations, and governments, are already doing to tackle it. What’s important to note is for us to strive to do better than yesterday; You ate a plateful of red meat every day this week? Strive to halve it next week. You didn’t manage to convince your management to switch out energy-efficient appliances? Talk to the leadership team next week. Be resilient in your efforts to do what you can for the climate.
Second, for everyone to come to terms that contributing to climate action looks different for everyone. Some of us are fortunate to be in companies or roles that work towards reducing emissions or are in the general sustainability space. Some of us are fortunate to have the time to volunteer, formally with registered organisations, or informally with ground-up initiatives or on ad-hoc projects. Tackling climate action takes a multi-stakeholder and collaborative approach, and one can do this, even as a volunteer. That said, for some of us, for whatever contexts and reasons, we may not be able to contribute to climate action, and that’s OK too.
Third. I acknowledge that in Singapore’s context, surveys by REACH over the years, for example, have shown Singaporeans as most concerned about the cost of living, job security, and housing. Therefore, with COVID and its impacts on our health, this adds to our list of concerns. So why should we volunteer even through the pandemic? Because with or without COVID-19, the climate crisis is still here to stay in our lifetime. I am not saying we have to actively think about what we can do 24/7 or suggesting that we, as individuals, indeed do something about it 24/7. What I am saying is we need to adapt to the current context. Take mental health breaks when we need to, utilise social media more effectively and at the same time keep ourselves safe and healthy, and be part of the global movement that is taking climate action. There are just so many things we need to do to address the climate crisis, and we cannot just depend on people who get paid to tackle it.
2.Some youths might believe that as an individual, they cannot do much for climate change, and most responsibilities will lie with large corporations and governments. What advice do you have for these youths?
I think before we definitively say a specific individual or organisation is responsible for something, it is also important for us to try to put ourselves in the other party’s shoes. We can never fully understand their contexts and challenges, and what’s hindering them from having a more progressive climate stance, if we don’t join them or talk to them. I think once we come to this realisation that this is not about ‘them’ and ‘us’ and who is more responsible, and that it is about what ‘we’ collectively need to talk about and do, we can focus better on saving mankind from the climate crisis.
3. In your vignette, you mentioned that we should ‘use our particular set of superpowers’ to create change. How do individuals discover their superpower?
It was through volunteering that I discovered my strengths in event organising and community outreach! So here, I would say, volunteer widely, for different causes, and with different organisations, allowing yourself to test out different skill sets along the way. Through this journey of self-discovery and actively getting feedback from people, I believe one is able to identify their superpowers!
In the vignette I highlighted other Change Agents I’ve met, Khushi and Hanisah, who in their various ways, are also using their set of superpowers to take climate action. It’s been almost 2 years since we recorded the vignette, and I’m happy to share at this point, Singapore Youth for Climate Action has restructured and we have a new management team as well! I’m grateful to have met several others who are using their superpowers to create change in their school setting and now in the community setting, and several others who are on the journey of discovering their superpowers.
Concluding this one with a phrase popularised by Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility”. So use your superpowers wisely!
Singapore Youth for Climate Action
SG Climate Rally
Singapore’s designation of 2018 as the Year of Climate Action
Climate change being on the agenda in 2019’s National Day Rally
Singapore Green Plan 2030 earlier this year
2015 Paris Agreement
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
$100 billion plan to protect us from rising sea levels in the next 100 yearsInstagram pages theweirdandwild and earthtodorcas.
Written by Lydia Konig
Illustrated by Lim Daphne