Koon Wei Pheng, Singapore, 14 years old
Green has been forgotten.
While it is a simple mix of blue and yellow, it has been overcome by litres of black crude oil, ribbons of grey smoke and disgusting slimes of pollution.
Around the globe, the alarm has been sounded. United Nations proclaimed that we only have 12 years to mitigate the climate change catastrophe. Further, our overall human population is rising at an alarming rate of 75 million people every year, meaning that demand will only keep on rising. Supply is facing an unsatisfiable demand.
Mother Earth has lost her balance.
Global sustainability is essential to restore the balance of our world. Sustainability means maintaining change in a way which environmental resources can be maintained. It is a form of resilience in the face of change.
Even in modern metropolises, sustainability is pivotal for constant improvement, both for human societies and our natural world. In Singapore, for example, the water shortage between 1963 and 1964 saw the painful rationing of water. Till today, the incident reminds Singaporeans to conserve water. It reminds us all to save by using only what we need, enabling us to see the reliance of human life on environmental sustainability.
Driving the Force of Nature
To achieve sustainability, a collaborative push is needed. This collaboration must be drawn from various organisations, ministries and individuals to drive the movement of environmental preservation. Only with a combined force can we overturn the climate crisis we currently face. Numerous activities highlight this.
For instance, the Clean Plate Campaign was launched in Singapore in 2013 to combat the insurmountable amount of food waste. Since then, the campaign has tackled both food waste in hawker centres and in schools to promote their campaign. The campaign aims to remind diners to finish every grain of food on their plates and to purchase only their requirements. In schools, volunteers counted the number of students’ empty plates, awarding the school with the best performance with a trophy. The campaign counted 5,000 plates in two days.
In another exercise in 2017, water rationing exercises were carried out together with World Water Day in schools. By reviving the days of water rationing, students saw the importance of conserving water. When the taps in schools were switched off for 4 hours, students had to collect water in pails to flush toilets and wash their hands. As Woodgrove principal Chee Chit Yeng said, “The main objective is to let the students be aware that the amenities and convenience they have – you press a button and the flush works, turn on the tap and you have water – should not be taken for granted.”
These legitimate actions which have been taken to improve sustainability by easing demand represent a source of power in the face of climate change. Further, the efforts driving these activities display determination to overcome the current situation. Most importantly, their victories in changing habits prove that we are not helpless in the face of the climate crisis, but instead that we wield great power to change the situation.
Mixing Blue with Yellow
Moving on, two words undermine the push towards further growth and improvement of the environmental efforts: habits and attitude.
On one hand, developing good habits is critical, since our actions are defined by our habits. In Singapore, we wasted 800,000 tonnes of food last year. The amount of waste recycled also fell by 50,000 tonnes from 4.77 million tonnes in 2016 to 4.72 million tonnes in 2017. Each Singaporean uses 1.6 plastic bags on average daily, which is twice the number in Malaysia and thrice that in Australia. Such are the choices Singaporeans make daily. However, if we take baby steps in the opposite direction, each of us could do lots to save our world. We could ask for one less plastic bag daily, ensure one more plate is clean after every meal and recycle a kilogram more of recyclables every month. The efforts may be small alone but will be gargantuan when combined.
On the other hand, our attitude is also important to bring about a positive climate change. This mindset change must spur from taking precedence in saving our Earth. In the case of plastic bag usage, say, we must understand that the supply of plastic bags in commercial trade is a privilege and not a given. Such an attitude works hand in hand with our habits to bring about a positive change in each of us.
If blue were to represent good habits, yellow would represent our attitude. Only when we combine both colours can the planet be saved; can we achieve the most beautiful colour – green.
 Watts, Jonathan. “We Have 12 Years to Limit Climate Change Catastrophe, Warns UN.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 Oct. 2018, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report.
 Lai, Linette. “Clean Plate Campaign to Prevent Food Waste Launched at Old Airport Road Food Centre.” The Straits Times, 16 Oct. 2018, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/clean-plate-campaign-to-prevent-food-waste-launched-at-old-airport-road-food-centre.
 Yangchen, Lin. “14,000 Students to Experience Water Rationing.” The Straits Times, 1 Mar. 2017, http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/14000-students-to-experience-water-rationing.
 Lai, Linette. “Clean Plate Campaign to Prevent Food Waste Launched at Old Airport Road Food Centre.” The Straits Times, 16 Oct. 2018, http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/clean-plate-campaign-to-prevent-food-waste-launched-at-old-airport-road-food-centre.
 “Waste Statistics and Overall Recycling.” Overview, www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/waste-management/waste-statistics-and-overall-recycling.
 “The Monstrous Scale of Plastic Bag Wastage in Singapore.” Channel News Asia, 5 Apr. 2018, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/monstrous-scale-plastic-bag-wastage-singapore-charge-recycle-10100010.