You may not have noticed, but we are just 3 months away from entering a new decade (the twenty-twenties?). As we approach this new milestone, more and more questions about our future are being raised to the forefront – not just our future as an individual or country, but our future as a species.
The big word? The Environment.
Like most Singaporeans, I’m 100% urbanite. The unique thing about living in Singapore however, is that there isn’t as huge a separation between nature and mankind as there perhaps is in other cities. It may be curated and planned (i.e we are a garden city) rather than natural and wild, but at the very least, we are greener than many other places with similar levels of population density and development.
Over the years, our work has allowed us to see how this did not happen by chance, but through broad government efforts.
In 2013, we produced one of our earliest projects (our first time using talents and graphics!) for the Housing Development Board. The video was aimed at promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle as part of HDB’s community engagement efforts – certainly interesting given that environmental issues do not typically fit under the purview of a housing agency!
Another project which we produced back in 2014 for the National Environment Agency reached out to businesses rather than individuals. The video was on SS587, NEA’s newest e-waste disposal standard at the time, and featured companies who were setting an example for others with their green efforts.
More recently, we produced a documentary for the Singapore Sustainable Gallery in 2018, tracing the nation’s entire journey towards sustainability over the past half century. The full video can be viewed at the Gallery itself, but for a taste of it, view the trailer here.
Yet it is not just the government who is driving change, nor is every effort to create a green world complicated and time intensive. Over the course of our work, we have met many passionate individuals who are building a greener world in their very own ways – both large and small.
Some examples are the various winners of the President’s Award for The Environment, whom we filmed in 2015 and 2017. While some awardees are businesses and organizations with deep pockets, others are primary schools and solo individuals who are contributing incrementally to a greener world.
We have also had the chance to meet the passionate public and civil servants who have steered the development of Singapore’s natural environment and sustainability efforts over the years – from the pioneers who were there at the very beginning, to the current generation of changemakers who are using technology to make a difference.
Both locally and beyond our shores, we have seen how social enterprises like The Living! Project, Bebonobo and STARTIC are leading community-level efforts to minimize waste with the support of the Singapore International Foundation.
Finally, just last month, we witnessed how passionate Singaporeans have stepped up to the plate and joined the Ministry of The Environment and Water Resources first Citizens’ Workgroup, focused on household recycling. Such initiatives are part of the Ministry’s efforts to co-create pragmatic solutions to make the nation more sustainable, hand-on-hand with both citizens and businesses.
For many of us, joining a government organization, starting a social enterprise or participating in a workgroup is a tall order. But there are baby steps we can all take, and deep down, I think most of us know what they are.
And if even those seem hard, don’t be too harsh on yourself. At the same time, if you do conquer those baby steps and are moving on to bigger actions, don’t turn around and be harsh on those who can’t. After all, there is no point building a sustainable world if it means removing all kindness and empathy, and replacing it with nothing but sanctimony. – Ash