Sustainability is a SMALL Movement – Part 1

The property of being environmentally sustainable; the degree to which a process or enterprise is able to be maintained or continued while avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources — Oxford English Dictionary

Sustainability is the BIG word we have recently heard in almost every country, especially during COP26, concerning climate change. The publicity around these topics is massive, and it might make people feel that this is an effort that large corporations or a country can only undertake. Well, this is further from the truth, and we can all make a difference in how we live and work. This article is a two-part series on how we can all play a SMALL part in making this global effort possible.

How do you move around between destinations of short distance, probably about 3–5km radius? Do you drive, take public transport, cycle or walk?

Most of the people who own a car will likely drive. Since they already own a car, why not make the best use of it? Okay, I don't own a car, and I rent one when I need it. But for a short distance, I will either walk or take a bus to reach my destination. Yes, it saves time for us getting around, but what are we doing after that? Are we watching Netflix or playing games on our devices when we return home?

Instead of driving, taking public transport, cycling or walking have multiple advantages. With the rising petrol cost, we save money on our petrol and parking. Having a bit of exercise helps us in our cardio fitness and getting Vitamin D generated by our body. It also helps burn some fats before we accumulate more during the upcoming Lunar New Year for those who are celebrating. When I am taking public transport, I can indulge in reading and getting knowledge from the authors.

I used to have a car for two years when my wife was pregnant. That was when I did not have much reading, and I realised that my temper was relatively short when I was behind the wheel. Another reason for not owning a car is that car ownership in Singapore is very expensive. I will get one when I have the money, but until then.

We can do our part by taking public transport and reducing how we burn fossil fuel. For example, you might tell me that you are driving an electric car and not a petrol car. Granted, but do you know how you get that electricity in the first place?

One of the hobbies of a Singaporean is searching for places that serve good food. Thus, we can travel across the island to try out a dish that's so popular and gather lots of positive reviews. So what can you relate to what you think of "Lunar New Year" and "Queue"? That's the famous Lim Chee Guan Bak Kwa (Pork Jerky), where people are queuing for hours to get a hand on this particular item, a must-have during this festive period.

However, have you seen people who waste a lot of food when leaving their table? All this food waste contributed to demand throughout the food supply chain and taxed the whole system. In doing so, we need to move more food around, and more needs to be grown. Instead of finding means to produce more sustainable and healthier food, we are looking for ways to expedite the crop to grow faster. The food that we are throwing away needs to be processed, and food waste is one of Singapore's most significant waste streams.

All these contributed to our carbon footprint. So, yes, the carbon footprint is not a problem that countries worldwide need to tackle. But, we need to tackle our carbon footprint. This is the main reason I am breaking this article into two parts, where this part aims to highlight that it is OUR problem and not the sole issue of the country that we live in.

So, try to manage the amount of food you are ordering, and if you are not confident of finishing them, order lesser. For example, when I am eating out with my family, we will order the portion for two people and share it among us. This is because we want to enjoy our food and not waste them or finish all of them and have a bloating stomach to manage.

We need to be aware of many more things that we are doing that contribute to the global issue we are seeing. For example:

  • We buy and wear the clothing a few times before throwing them away. Making things worse is buying them online and throwing them away when they do not fit. Many of them go to landfills.
  • We like to buy things online and get them shipped from overseas. Unfortunately, these created additional waste and taxed the already challenging logistic chain. How about buying locally to reduce the carbon footprint and support your local economy?
  • We leave all the electric appliances, lighting, fan, etc., running when not using them. You might be linking them to IoT devices, yet they are consuming electricity when on standby mode.
  • Electronic waste is another massive issue that we need to manage. Do we need always to buy the latest model when what we are having is still working fine?

In the next part, I will share what companies can be doing to help in the sustainability initiative. Is it that difficult, or it's something that we can be doing to benefit both society and our company?



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Sunny Tan HC

Continuous Improvement | CX | DX | Ex- Technoprenuer | Project Manager | Vacathoner | Medium Writer