As awareness of sustainability issues grows, more and more grassroots groups are gaining ground and making a difference by advocating for changes in our daily lives, from using less plastic to cleaning up beaches and reducing carbon footprints.
There’s Trash Hero, a movement that promotes using as little as possible and recycling what is used, with chapters in Singapore as well other countries in Southeast Asia. They organize beach clean-ups and support “plogging.” This Swedish fitness craze combines jogging with picking up trash you see along the way, and it has spread to other parts of the world including our island.
Other handy resources that exist thanks to an enthusiastic community of like-minded earth-lovers contributing their insider knowledge include this Singapore-based Freecycling List. It’s an excellent source for how and where you can donate stuff you don’t want any more, from e-waste to baby gear, books, clothes and medicines. The goal is to encourage sharing and re-using, instead of consuming and buying more new things.
Another useful tool started by an international school mom who became frustrated at the amount of gear many families were buying for one-off school trips, is a Facebook group for the schools’ parents. The trekking shoes, sleeping bags, special duffels, headlamps, and other kit purchased, often used once and forgotten, can now be shared, given away, bought and sold via posting in the school trip gear exchange group that has grown to nearly 500 members in just one year. It’s a closed group that could be easily emulated at other schools.
A larger association of concerned residents who have come together in their common desire to “do something” is the Facebook group called “Journey to Zero Waste Life in Singapore.” The public group of more than 5,000 members is comprised of a nearly even mix of expats and locals. One of Singapore’s most popular communities of environmentalists, enthusiastic members share tips and methods for reducing waste and using less of everything.
It was started by Adrian Philip Houghton, an expat from England who works in F&B and has lived in Singapore for 22 years.
“The more and more I researched the damage that plastics do to our environment the more determined I was to do my part, whatever part I could play. I couldn’t just stand by and think it was somebody else’s problem,” says Houghton.
Since he started the group 18 months ago, Houghton has managed to meet various government departments and engage in some good dialog with major retailers and others about issues including charging customers for plastic bags to reduce usage. He also organizes beach clean-ups from time to time.
“In Singapore, where disposables, plastic bags and packaging are ubiquitous, it is not easy to minimize our waste. This group is a place where we post questions, and where we share our experience and knowledge to help and support each other in reducing waste in our lives. Through sharing we hope to spread the word of waste reduction and let fellow travelers know they are not alone on this journey,” Houghton says.
Actions from everyday people like Houghton are inspiring others and spreading across not only Asia, but the rest of the world. Know of anyone (perhaps yourself?) doing their part to reduce waste? Share their story with us!