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From Trash to Ash . 3Rs for Rubbish . Semakau Landfill

Recycle and pass it forward ISSN 1793-7272

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The official e-publication of ECO is also available at and

11th Issue Not For Sale


Writers Rui Yan Rui Yan is an undergraduate in Environmental Economics and Environmental Management at the University of York, UK. She enjoys tree-hugging, but even more so, people-hugging. She would like to work on climate finance and development policy in the future, and wishes the politicians at Copenhagen in December would break a leg.

from the editor Reducing Reusing Recycling

2010 promised to be a new and improved start for the environment in the run-up to Copenhagen. Instead, 2010 seems to be more of the same, after big power politics had dominated the Copenhagen negotiation processes and constrained its eventual outcome.  Some look behind and remain demoralised about how national leaders cared more about power than the environment.  Some strain ahead and find other means to exercise their voice for the environment in civic societies.  How about those of us who are not so cued in with issues such as carbon footprints, waste recycling, and the like? This issue takes a hard look at Singapore

EXPRESS! is a lifestyle magazine published four times a year by the Environmental Challenge Organisation (Singapore) or ECO Singapore for short, the leading Non-Governmental Social Enterprise for youth under the Registrar of Societies Environmental Challenge Organisation (Singapore) 87 Beach Road #06-01 Chye Sing Building Singapore 189695 tel. 6333 5543 fax. 6333 5537

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Daniel Soh Daniel is an avid photographer who believes that the continuation of humanity can only be achieved through the preservation, and indeed salvation, of the environment. An aspiring psychologist, he believes that the mindset of man can be changed to evoke, over time, social revolution in the favour of conservation.

and its efforts to recycle waste. This issue also features inspiring individuals who, just like you and me, have committed their lives to improve the environment.  This issue continues to highlight simple ways that we can change our behaviour to enjoy a “clean and green” lifestyle.  Information is what we hope to continue bringing you throughout 2010, but action is what you, and only you can bring about. No matter how insignificant you feel your action (or inaction) will be in 2010, you will make a difference (for better or worse) in 2010 and beyond.  Would you make a better difference with us this year?

Pak Shun, Editor The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Challenge Organisation (Singapore). No responsibility is accepted by the organisation or its volunteers for the accuracy of any statement, opninion, or advice contained in the text or advertisments. All materials appearing in EXPRESS! are the exclusive copyright property of the ECO. No part of EXPRESS! may be reproduced in any form without prior written consent from Environmental Challenge Organisation (Singapore).

Dr. Steve Kardinal JUSUF Dr. Steve Kardinal Jusuf is currently working as a Research Fellow in the Centre for Sustainable Asian Cities (CSAC), NUS. He has a passion in the research of green-related climatology, GIS-based urban climatic mapping and building energy simulation. Arien Lynn Arien L is a full-time librarian and part-time student. She’s also a closet tree-hugger and animal lover. Arien started writing / copy-editing during her 2-year stint with an online creative agency. She secretly wishes that there were more roaming farm animals and greenlands in Singapore. Licia Lee Licia Lee is an educator with a strong passion in photography and environmental issues and will like to extend this passion to the public through ECO EXPRESS!. She believes that everyone can make a little positive contribution daily by using the “4Rs”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Refuse. As MJ put it : Heal the world, make it a better place... Wayne Chan No stranger to the environment or media communications, Wayne was with Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA), Parkway Health and

top media agency, Ogilvy, where he provided PR counsel on a wide range of environmental and public health issues. Now with the Building & Construction Authority (BCA), he is continuing his journey towards building a greener Singapore.



Ng Zhi Ying Life is often taken as synonymous with happiness for Zhi Ying. Happiness to her is a combination of: quaint bookstores, café latte, contemporary art and writings, the daily show, politics, love and family. She thinks that politics makes the world more exciting and believes in the art of rhetoric.


Agathe Cavicchioli Agathe is a French student in Politics and International Relations. She’s been concerned with the stake of our Mother Earth from a tender age and is striving to lead a meaningful life dedicated to the preservation of our environment. Small contributions make great changes thus one should always ponder between what is easy and what is right Ramona Chia I’m 21 years old and currently pursuing an Economics degree. Diversity is one of my philosophies, thus I like to explore many areas and collect experiences in different fields, like anthropology, literature, zoology, sustainable development. I’m constantly trying to both deepen my understanding of these fields and also have fun. Lim Linin Lim Linin is an undergraduate currently studying Sociology at the National University of Singapore. She hopes to make a difference in people’s lives through little ways. She enjoys learning and experiencing just like everyone does despite her susceptibility to making mistakes! Baifeng Quek Hi, I’m Baifeng. Nice to meet you. I like swimming, I like drama. And I’d like you to.. Take a peek, read and seek. In the summer’s heat, I do hope ECO EXPRESS! will make you jump on your feet.




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The Importance of Being Aware By Agathe Cavicchioli


Green Living – Green Cleaners By Daniel Soh

YEE Batch: June 2008 By Susan Pereira



Climate Change – Akan Datang* (Coming Soon) By Yong Rui Yan

An ordinary youth with an extraordinary cause By Ng Zhi Ying




18 20 22

Uncovering Singapore’s integrated solid waste management system By Wayne Chan

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From Trash to Ash By Linin Semakau Landfill – Waste-Filled Paradise By Agathe Cavicchioli

Munching the Green Way By Linin Making a quick clean getaway! By Arien Lynn Tan Green Bits and Pieces of EcoFriendly Goodness, in Your Life! By Ramona Chia

Photography: Alessandro Philip Maiano Volunteer Editor Ng Pak Shun, Volunteer Copy Editors Heather Chi, Yuhui Volunteer Writers Andrea, Ashley Tan, Brian, Heather, Julie Davies, Moses Lim, Pak Shun, Sye Yuet, Zhi Ying, Zishen, Yuhui Art Director Amy Ong,,

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YEE Batch: June 2008 By Susan Pereira’s all about changing our behaviour before it’s too late and the need to understand the nature of feedback.

What are the most important things you learnt from the YEE course? How have you benefited from the course? The most mind-blowing feature I took away from the YEE course was learning about systems thinking. In a nutshell, it’s all about changing our behaviour before it’s too late and the need to understand the nature of feedback. Over at Restroom Association (Singapore) RAS, we’ve applied systems thinking to formulate campaign messages and to track the progress of projects. How have you applied what you learnt in your personal life? I have learnt to be more aware of the roles and responsibilities of an NGO and this has helped me to promote RAS, to forge new ties with other organizations, and to promote our cause.

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How have you applied what you learnt for the benefit of youths in Singapore? RAS is currently collaborating with some final-year Singapore Poly students to roll out a health initiative promoting proper handwashing. Systems thinking came in handy as it helped us to incorporate the ideas from the poly students into our Happy Toilet School Education Programme for Preschools. Would you recommend the YEE course to other people? If so, why? If not, why not? Yes, it’s definitely a good platform to meet experts who can share a tip or two. It’s also a great place to meet and work together on future projects promoting good environmental health.



Climate Change – Akan Datang* (Coming Soon) Climate Change in Singapore – ISEAS Environment and Climate Change Seminar Series By Yong Rui Yan


f you’re in Singapore now, chances are that you’re probably less than 15m above sea level. Furthermore, we are home to cloudy skies (great for strolls but not so, unfortunately, for tapping solar energy) and have limited potential for renewable energy production. The future doesn’t look too bright even if it could well be warmer. Although there has been no trend of rising sea levels on our shores, temperature and sea level rise in Singapore and Southeast Asia will not be far off from global estimates. If this song of similarity and relativity sounds comforting to anyone, it is dangerously so. Climate change has been billed as the biggest crisis we will face as a generation. That alone should heighten our senses. Another useful reality – even if the direct effects of climate change can be generalised, the secondary implications will be regional and country-specific. This both resonates with and painfully reminds one of the key principle behind international climate negotiations: “Common but differentiated responsibilities. Common but differentiated implications.” Southeast Asia is projected to be economically more vulnerable to climate change than the global average. So what does this potentially mean for us here in Singapore? Being in the tropics, where vector-borne diseases are common, Singapore will be particularly vulnerable to increased incidences of dengue fever in warmer weather. Preliminary studies have observed that the relatively high number of dengue cases correlates with local ambient temperatures and increased precipitation variability. Other than increased pest threats hampering our enjoyment of

the outdoors, we can expect our coastal recreational areas to be affected. Areas such as East Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park, Sentosa, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and West Coast Park will suffer from the effects of a rise in sea levels. Higher sea levels will also pose problems to effective rain drainage, especially during monsoon seasons. While the last 30 years have seen decreased rainfall, quantity of rainfall is not the sole problem. Climate change means that climatic conditions will be inconsistent; other than more extreme wet and humid spells, rainfall will also be inconsistent. With local catchments (reservoirs) being one of our four national taps (the other three are imported water, NEWater and desalinated water), planning our water resources amidst this unpredictability will be challenging. Unfortunately, these undesirable effects are just the tip of the iceberg. Food security will be called into question; energy consumption will rise in reaction to higher temperatures (and sticky bodies, no doubt). Our shoreline mangroves could also be threatened, leading to aggravated coastal erosion. Regional security may even be challenged in times of desperation and unpredictability. What would the economic impact be for Singapore if we are butted into the Annex-1 list? How economically-dangerous is a significant sea level rise for Singapore? All these and many more questions are posed around the world by people who are not sure of how to react to the impending storm. At least, Dr Elspeth Thomson promised that some of the answers will come from research at the Energy Studies

Institute (ESI), answers that will help to shape Singapore’s response and adaptations. “Akan Datang!” seminar chairperson Mr Tan Keng Jin, Head of Public Affairs at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), laughingly chipped in. With climate change at our doorstep, Singapore has not been resting on her laurels and concrete actions have been taken. We have a National Climate Change Committee (NCCC), a public-private group with an impressive representation list that covers virtually all relevant economic sectors and government agencies. We have identified a strategy that focuses on efficient energy use . The National Adaptation Taskforce under the Ministry of National Development takes charge of inspecting our infrastructural abilities to adapt to and cope with the effects of climate change. All the same, we would do well to remember that Akan Datang applies not only to research results but also to the onset of climate change. For more comprehensive information regarding the impacts of climate change on Singapore, look up the Singapore Country Report in the Regional Review of the Economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia.

Annex-1 parties are industrially developed countries and countries with economies in transition, they are liable under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. Singapore is currently a nonAnnex 1 party to the UNFCCC.

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Reducing, Reusing and Recycling Rubbish

By Wayne Chan

Uncovering Singapore’s integrated solid waste management system


etween 1970 and 2001, the daily amount of waste disposal rose by more than 6-folds, from about 1,200 tonnes per day in 1970 to 7,700 tonnes per day in 2001. To address this growing problem, Singapore has put in place an integrated solid waste management system to collect and dispose non-recyclable waste safely at waste-to-energy plants or at the offshore sanitary landfill. With Singapore’s waste output closely linked to the country’s gross domestic product and population, the sustainable solution for a small city state like Singapore is to curb waste growth by minimising and recycling waste. To understand Singapore’s waste management approach, ECO Singapore visited the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) Tuas South Incineration Plant (TSIP) to understand how our waste is being reduced through the waste-to-energy process. Turning trash into cash and energy Currently, Singapore recycles about 56% of its waste and incinerates another 41%. Singapore has been incinerating its waste since 1979, the first in the region to use the process of waste-to-energy incineration and the second in Asia, after Japan. Apart from reducing the volume of refuse by 90%, Singapore’s waste-to-energy plants also generate electricity. The total amount of electricity generated from waste-to-energy plants in 2008 was over 1 million megawatt-hours, enough to meet about 3% of Singapore power needs. According to TSIP General Manager, Mr Poh Soon Hoong, the electricity generated is enough to light up three times of 

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Singapore’s needs in street lighting. A large amount of scrap metal is also recovered during the incineration process and sold to a local steel mill for recycling into steel products for the construction industry. In 2008, 11,400 tonnes of scrap metal were recovered and sold. The remaining incineration ash and non-incinerable waste (sludge and slag) are disposed of at Semakau Landfill. In recent years, there have been trials to use the incineration bottom ash for road construction. Recycling everything and anything NEA has set a target of 70% recycling rate by 2030. To achieve this goal, NEA has been working with industry partners, households and schools in its recycling efforts. Through the National Recycling Programme, recyclables are collected door-to-door every fortnight. To complement the door-to-door collection, 1,600 centralised recycling depositories are also deployed in HDB estates. The participation rate for recycling of domestic waste in HDB and landed properties currently stands at 63%, while 99% of schools have a recycling programme. To ensure that condominium residents can recycle their waste, all condominiums are now legally required from 1 Nov 09 to provide recycling receptacles. This is being implemented in phases, starting with the larger condominiums, and all condominiums are expected to comply with the new legislation by the end of 2009. There are also 3,800 recycling bins positioned in various public areas to make it easier for everyone to recycle.

Driven by NEA’s various recycling programmes, the amount of recycled waste is increasing slowly but steadily. Just look at the annual recycling figures of some of the waste streams below:

Type of waste

Mass (Tonnes)

Recycling Rate

Used Slag



Construction & Demolition Waste



Ferrous Metal



Paper / Cardboard



Wood / Timber



Horticultural Waste



Singapore even celebrates an annual recycling day to generate further awareness

To prolong the life of our waste-to-energy plants and Semakau landfill, we must do our part to reduce, reuse and recycle. Recycling Day External view of the Tuas South waste energy plant

Recycling Yuhua

SembWaste Centralised Recycling depository Truck dumping waste at Tuas South plant

Scrap metals extracted from ash

Furnace in the Tuas South waste energy plant

about the benefits of recycling and influence behavioural change. One of the main activities on the recent Recycling Day is the Champion Recycler contest, in which residents compete to see who brings in the most recyclables. Packaging waste As packaging waste accounts for about one-third of household waste, another way to minimise waste is to focus on reducing packaging waste. To that end, the Singapore Packaging Agreement, jointly developed by the government, F&B and packaging industry players and NGOs, was signed in June 2007.

The Agreement aims to raise general awareness on the need to reduce product packaging waste, and encourage businesses to make changes to their supply chains that will result in better or more sustainable use of resources for packaging. Under the Agreement, signatories shall formulate action plans to reduce packaging waste, and several signatories have implemented initiatives to reduce packaging for their products. More than 80 organisations, including five industry groups representing more than 500 companies, as well as several major F&B companies, are now signatories of the Agreement. They include

F&N Coca-Cola, Asia Pacific Breweries, Carlsberg Singapore, Nestlé Singapore, Gardenia Foods, McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway Singapore and YHS. These initiatives have, in most cases, also resulted in cost savings for these companies. Make haste to reduce waste To prolong the life of our waste-to-energy plants and Semakau landfill, we must do our part to reduce, reuse and recycle. So, let’s remember our 3Rs and join in the ongoing battle to cut the waste generated by our island nation, as we continue to strive towards a cleaner and greener Singapore. 11th Issue Express!



By Linin

From Trash to Ash



The journey begins when all incoming refuse collection vehicles are weighed at the weigh bridges.

The vehicles are driven to the reception hall where their refuse are unloaded into the refuse bunks.

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3. The unloaded refuse. 4. A lot of unloading for each vehicle. 5. One of two refuse bunkers. The worker mixes the refuse so that it burns nicely in the incinerator. The bunker is kept below atmospheric pressure to prevent odours from escaping. 6. Advanced combustion control system allows a complete burn-out. 7 & 8. Steam turbine converts heat energy released during combustion into electrical energy. The plant consumes 20% of the electricity it produces and sells the excess 80%. 9. The Central Control Room is manned 24/7 by trained operators, who work on rotating shifts. 10. Ash and slag at Tuas Marine Transfer Station before being transported to offshore Semakau Landfill for disposal.


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Semakau Landfill – Waste-Filled Paradise

By Agathe Cavicchioli

The Story of Semakau Landfill he story of Semakau started from the 1980s, when the Lorong Halus dumping ground approached its containment limit. The then-Ministry of the Environment thus had to find another location to bury Singapore’s growing waste. The daily amount of waste had risen alarmingly from 600,000 tonnes a year in 1972 to 940,000 tonnes in 1980. Finding an alternative to the Lorong Halus dumping ground became a pressing issue. The possibility of settling a new dumping ground in the mainland of Singapore was soon rejected due to land scarcity. Housing, recreational and industrial facilities were preferred to a landfill. An alternative of an offshore territory was then explored. The space between Pulau Semakau



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Out of 12 cells, 6 are filled up, one is currently being used and 4 more are empty and capable of containing our waste until 2015. Subsequently, 8 or 9 new cells would be built in the phase 2 zones, which should last for waste collection until 2040.

and Pulau Sekang seemed suitable to host the landfill facility. Subsequently, construction began in 1995 with a 7km impermeable perimeter bund enclosing the ocean in a 350-hectare basin between Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sekang. This basin was then divided in 12 cells, where the waste would be buried. The facility was completed in Apr 99 with a total cost of $610 million.

Today, Singapore disposes of 7,000 tons of waste per day, of which 56% is recycled and 44% goes to Semakau. This represents 1,400 tons of ash and 600 tons of non-incinerable waste. Two barges carry the ashes on weekdays, and one barge on weekends. It takes about two days for your waste to be burnt and buried in Semakau.

Photography: Alessandro Philip Maiano

Wildlife at Semakau Landfill ECO Singapore was invited to visit Semakau Landfill to witness a book release called “Habitats in Harmony: the Story of Semakau”. Among other items, the visit programme included an intertidal walk, which allowed us to observe the rich biodiversity of “Singapore’s innovative waste management site.” When I first knew about Pulau Semakau, I had difficulty putting these two concepts, “rich biodiversity” and “waste management site”, in the same sentence. Probably like many of you, it was hard for us to believe that a landfill, where burnt waste is buried, could be a safe haven for mangroves, coral reeves and other sea animals. Semakau proved us wrong. Upon arrival at the island, we were taken in a bus along the perimeter bund. On our left was a stretched of several landfill cells, which had already been filled and covered up. One could not have guessed that they contained years of human solid waste, as they were covered by dense and vivid flora. This first impression was confirmed later during the intertidal walk by the overwhelming fauna and flora that The Intertidal Walk we witnessed. Led by our tour guide, Marcus Ng Fu Chuan, who is also the author of “Habitats in Harmony: the Story of Semakau Landfill”, we were taken – bedazzled – across a wild jungle, along a beach and into patches of coral reeves and other astonishing seaweed.

Although the weather was not at its best, the dim light scattered upon the shore was enough to embrace the incredible richness of the surroundings. Kneeling down near the roots of a Bakau Minyak, one could hear the popping and trampling sounds of the vinegar crabs with their oversized claws, as they were coming out and hastening back in their holes. As the discoveries went on, rare and intriguing species of crabs, seaweeds and other sea stars were revealed. To everyone’s surprise a rare species of Melibe – or sea slug – was potted in a puddle of water for the first time on Semakau! Bakau minyak (top left), coral and seaweed (top right), vinegar crabs (below left) and Melibe – sea slug (below right)

Amongst all of the wonders unfolded on Semakau, one particularly struck our mind. The mangrove in Semakau is the largest in the south-eastern shore of Singapore and garners species of mangrove that cannot be found on the mainland of Singapore. Against all odds and to our great disbelief, we left the island of Semakau with the unexpected feeling that, at the very end of our destructive and consumerist lifestyle, nature could still take over. I landed on Semakau Island with the conviction that I would see nothing but ash and dirt being shamefully buried away from our view. In fact, I came back from the island with a renewed hope in the three “R”s and the greatness of Nature.

In 2006, Pulau Semakau was opened to the public, and now, it often hosts events by the Sport Fishing Association Singapore (SFAS) and The Astronomical Society Of Singapore (TASOS). Many researchers and marine biologists from NUS also visit the island for research and monitoring purposes.

Marcus is a graduate from NUS in European Studies and Economics. Over the past years, he has acquired much knowledge and expertise in biological science through professional and personal experiences. He is a passionate surveyor and a documenter of the islands’ reeves and intertidal zone. Vegetation along the perimeter bund

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The Importance of Being Aware By Agathe Cavicchioli

Oliver (left) and ECO reporter Agathe Cavicchioli (right)


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very year, the National Environment Agency acknowledges Singapore’s most outstanding eco-warriors with the famous EcoFriend Award. This award recognises selfless individuals who have undertaken projects and challenges with commitment and faith for a greener and cleaner environment. Amongst this year’s recipients were Mr Oliver Goh Koon Jeow, under the NGO and Grassroots Volunteer category, and Ms Lee Wanli, under the Youth and Student category. Both organised important projects over the past years and received their awards on 10 Jul 09. Oliver has been involved with environmental issues since 2005, when he flew to Germany for a environmental field trip studying people, government and industry environmental practices. Since then, he has taken part in many conferences, projects and programmes such as the Earthwatch Whale Shark Research Project by the

Lee Wanli (left) and ECO Reporter Ng Zhi Ying (right)

National Youth Achievement Award Council (NYAAC) and HSBC (2006), and the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) International Environmental Governance Meeting and Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum in Sydney (2008). However, when I asked him what the most significant projects in his career were thus far, he lingered over a bitter souvenir… “I recently went to Nairobi, Kenya with the UNEP to attend the Tunza Global Youth Gathering. I was there as an observer, but I felt very frustrated because I could not do anything about the situation I was witnessing… At some point I found myself in slums and orphanages. I realised then that I had no skills. I was an undergraduate environmental engineer at Nanyang Technical University (NTU) and I could not help these people, unlike doctors and photographers to treat and to tell the stories. After 6 years of environmental studies and activities, I couldn’t do anything. After this experience I decided to stop all the writing and all the conferences. I chose to spend more time studying, especially on water issues, and figure out what progress could be carried out in this field.” For Oliver, awareness is the first step to greater action and, eventually, change. He observed that many want to get involved in environmental issues but do not know how

to influence change. “The most important thing is to ask yourself what you can do. You need to have patience and you need to understand the issues at hand to be able to contribute efficiently.” Ms Lee Wanli, recipient of the EcoFriend award in the Youth and Student category, would certainly agree with this statement. Wanli has officiated as head executive of the 2008 National Youth EnvirOlympics Challenge (NYEC) and the following year as chairman. Wanli has also organised the Youthphoria eco-concert in 2006. Those events have reached up to 43,000 people through games, art contests and performances. Obviously Wanli is a proactive environmentalist and a champion of awareness. Selfless and devoted, she insisted that awareness is a crucial firststep to greater public commitment. “Take for example the use of recycling bags. When it was introduced, people did not know what it was and rejected it. But with time, it has progressed and now people have understood the rationale behind the use of recycling bags. The truth is that changes happen with time, but they start with awareness. You need to know your possibilities before making them happen.” Wanli confided her disappointment that environmental issues remain largely absent from school programmes. “I deplore the

fact that schools are not very receptive to environmental issues. Surprisingly, we can’t reach out to them so easily. I am personally looking forward to a legislation to introduce environmental awareness in schools, as I believe that such awareness should start from the very young.” And her last words for us? “We inherited the Earth from our ancestors and we will pass it on to our children, thus you must look at the future. The environment is the future.” Hearing the outstanding thoughts and experiences of our EcoFriends Wanli and Oliver, it seems that the greatest lesson to learn is that awareness is the key to proactive and effective environmentalist movements. One should never doubt, let alone lessen, the importance of being aware.

The 2009 Tunza Gathering was organised and hosted by the UNEP at its headquarters in Nairobi. “Tunza” is a Kiswahili word meaning “to treat with care or affection”. The Tunza Strategy was adopted in 2003 by the UNEP’s Governing Council as a long-term strategy to engage young people in environmental activities and in the work of the UNEP. 11th Issue Express!



An ordinary youth with an extraordinary cause By Ng Zhi Ying rtpark Samuel at the Ho his award where he received


he crisp white uniform. The gryphon strength and the eagle eye. Nothing in the room stirred. He walked in, as everyone waited for him to articulate his explosive CV marked impeccably by impressive achievements at a young age. But there was something quiet about him; he had a comfortable confidence that was far from arrogant, and there was something boyish about his smile. Undoubtedly, he displayed a brand of maturity that was both inspiring and


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insightful, as he held mature opinions and views about world issues, especially on climate change and the environment. Yet, his adolescence shone through during the conversation, as he talked about having less time to “hang out and watch movies� with his friends due to his commitment to environmental projects. He appears to be your ordinary adolescent yet achieving extraordinary things in his youth- he is one of the youngest recipients of the prestigious

I have had inspiring mentors, of whom Mrs Yap (who is also a recipient of the EcoFriends award) had inspired me the most. She gave me the opportunity to know more about the environment and environmental projects.

EcoFriends awards. Discover Samuel Lim through this exclusive interview with ECO Singapore correspondent, Ng Zhi Ying. Zhi Ying: Hi Samuel, Can you tell me more about yourself? Samuel: Hi Zhi Ying. I am a Year 2 student at Raffles Junior College. I like to swim, read and cycle during my free time. Zhi Ying: You’ve undertaken many green projects. What inspires you to commit so much to the environment? Samuel: I have had inspiring mentors, of whom Mrs Yap (who is also a recipient of the EcoFriends award) had inspired me the most. She gave me the opportunity to know more about the environment and environmental projects. I realised that environmental projects are very challenging because many Singaporeans are unwilling to do something about the environment. They should be more informed about the environment and NEA-led events.

Zhi Ying: Can you tell me more about your project? Samuel: I created a “green game” a.k.a The Amazing Race at Suntec City. It required us to think out of the box to generate awareness. However, I met with numerous challenges; many teams failed and were frustrated because they couldn’t count how many stalls used disposable utensils. Other teams were indignant because they thought that the judging criteria were unfair; some stalls which they considered as using disposables were not considered by the judges. We realised that the definition of disposables was dubious at the start, and made some people rather upset. It was especially challenging for me because we received bad reviews and found it hard to attract more teams to participate. Zhi Ying: You have made tremendous commitments to green movements. Did you have to make sacrifices for these commitments? Samuel: Yes, definitely. I had to give up debating as a CCA (co-curricular activity). I spent a lot of time on environmental activities, and with it comes the opportunity costs. There was also a loss of time spent with friends, watching mov-

ies, hanging out together… And as for A Levels, I usually have to struggle at the start of the year in academics. But it is a choice that I have made and I enjoy engaging myself in environmental activities. Zhi Ying: Do you see yourself as committed in the future as you are now to green movements? Samuel: I intend to continue being NEA’s Youth Environmental Envoy and intend to return to ECO Singapore to help out after my A levels. I feel that G8 has a lot of potential to make a stand on issues, and to create something impactful and powerful, though I also see the difficulties involved; to be hampered by self-interests of home countries, and costs versus interests. It will be hard to get countries to agree on particular issues, for instance, the Kyoto Protocol. But I remain sanguine about global changes. Zhi Ying: If there is just one statement you can say to the youth of today, what would it be? Samuel: Try your best to save the Earth NOW. There’ll be no more natural environment present if you don’t start now- there is no better time than to start now.

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Green Living – Green Cleaners D

o you know what chemicals are being spread across your table as you clean it? Most people would not care much about it, as long as the job of cleaning is done. However, what if you found out that the cleaning detergent you have been using actually contains toxins? About 18 months back, Colin Pudsey, a British National, relocated to Singapore to work on energy saving projects for the IT infrastructure in both government agencies and private businesses. Like many expatriates in Singapore, he hired a domestic helper for housekeeping every week. However, he was far from satisfied. “My apartment was not cleaned up to my expectations… More worryingly, I started to experience chest problems. Upon some research on the net, I was horrified to learn the side effects that household cleaning detergents can have.” Caused by chemicals commonly used in household cleaning detergents, such as butyl cellosolve and ammonia, these side-effects include irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory system, hormonal disruptions and even liver or kidney damage. Having been involved in environmental projects in a variety of countries over the past 5 years, Colin was no stranger to taking the initiative on the green front. So, 9 months ago, he founded Green Cleaners. Today, as one of the leaders in the Singapore market for green cleaning, Green Cleaners offers cleaning services that use only non-toxic and environmentally friendly products. The helpers do not just use these products, however, but rather act as “green agents” themselves. Colin 16

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described his domestic helpers’ attitudes and professionalism, “They are also eco-friendly trained on how to use the products effectively, as well as why they are using them and the

By Daniel Soh


benefits. They are mindful of the environment, saving energy and water as well as reducing, reusing and recycling where possible.” To further promote green living, Colin began conducting “Learn Green – Live Green” classes for live-in helpers. He elaborated on the class curriculum, “These classes will help them become more mindful of the environment, and perhaps save their employers a few dollars along the way! The classes will focus on

saving energy and water, as well as ecofriendly cleaning tips, waste management and the three ‘R’s - Recycling, Reusing, Reducing.” For those who prefer their cleaning to be done by live-in helpers or even by themselves, Green Cleaners also offers, with a small premium, specially selected “green home cleaning kits” that they deliver to the customer’s doorstep. Since the recent global financial crisis, Singaporeans have been tightening their belts to “save their spare cash” by cutting down their entertainment spending and purchase of luxury goods, as well as day-to-day costs such as petrol or (hopefully) utilities. However, there is a reasonable limit to how much people would save on, especially in terms of necessities, including cleanliness and hygiene. According to the Ministry of Manpower, Singa-


pore has over 150,000 live-in helpers, largely employed in households where both parents work, but do not wish to send their children to childcare centres. By comparison, part-time domestic helpers may be seen as a luxury reserved for well-heeled singles, with little reason or indication that this trend is likely to change soon. While there is still room for growth of agencies like Green Cleaners in providing part-time domestic helpers, live-in helpers are still likely to remain as a majority in the coming years. On that note, it is the initiative to raise awareness of such green products that will create a widespread impact in the cleaning sector. While every bit counts, green living is a change that almost every household can take, regardless of how they clean their houses. Even for those unwilling to fork out the cash for premiums attached to green products, green cleaning and living involves more than a simple change in product choice, but also a change in habits and mindsets – one of the most important steps in making a difference to the environment. So, take up a workshop or plug in to the wealth of information that we now have and take another step forward to making a positive green impact to the environment Green Cleaner’s website can be found at:

11th Issue Express!



Munching the Green Way By Linin


ingaporeans are a busy bunch. We are always connected and in touch with everyone through gadgets like mobile phones, or social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter. To say that this generation of Singaporeans is technologically advanced and up-to-date is definitely not an understatement. However, while we can proudly claim to be advanced in employing new technologies, the same cannot be said for our ability to enjoy the simple and natural joy of a Singaporean lifestyle. If you think Singapore lacks the vast expanse of space and beautiful parks for any green activity to be successfully


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carried out, think again. Amidst the glass buildings and concrete towers lies pretty parks and gardens, towering trees and majestic nature board walks. We are certainly not christened as the “Garden City” for nothing. While we are moving ahead into the future, let us remember to stop and smell the orchids! There is a lot of “green” in Singapore that we are turning a blind eye to, and a lot of simple joy can be derived from simple activities there. Think picnics, nature walks, sports activities that are both healthy and green at the same time!

What is a Singaporean activity without food? Picnicking is an easy way to gather people; there’s no fuss and very little work involved in preparing for picnics. You’d be surprised to know that there are many picnic spots you can frequent. Picnics are generally sustainable social activities, especially since homemade food is packed in reusable containers and can be shared amongst your family and friends. The trick is to opt for organic food that is friendly to the environment, yet achieving zero-waste as much as possible. With improved technologies, it is now even possible to bring

While we are moving ahead into the future, let us remember to stop and smell the orchids! along eco-friendly disposable tableware. For example, CornWare offers a range of eco-friendly disposable tableware products that is 100% biodegradable and toxic-free. Utensil such as forks and spoons and even cups and bowls can now be disposed of without the harmful consequences of disposing plastic wares. Find them at Olive Green Marketing (! If you’re looking for picnicking locations, the Marina Barrage, a key aspect of Singapore’s 15th reservoir, is quickly turning into the latest hotspot in Singapore. Its green roof is fast becoming a favorite

haunt for Singaporean picnickers. From there, one can enjoy the panoramic view of the freshwater bay, the cityscape and the iconic Singapore Flyer. The barrage is accessible to the public 24 hours a day. Many groups have gone to the green roof for a sumptuous potluck of homemade delicacies, a day out for kite-flying, as well as to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the waterfront. Do remember to bring along your picnic mat! The Singapore Botanic Gardens is yet another favourite picnic spot for Singaporeans, which is easily accessible and covers a wide area. One can go there

with loved ones for a picnic while bringing along a good read, or even taking pets along to join in the fun. While you’re there, try to spot eleven of Singapore’s Heritage Trees! These majestic trees belong to the natural heritage of Singapore and serve as important green landmarks. Thus, let us be truly Singaporean and not be blind to the beauty of Singapore’s own flora and fauna while doing what we do best - eat!

11th Issue Express!



Making a quick clean getaway! By Arien Lynn Tan

How much of your carbon footprint are you leaving behind on your vacation?


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ith the economic recession making us Singaporeans more prudent in our spending, many are choosing neighbouring destinations for quick weekend vacations. Some all-time favorites include Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh or beach resorts at Bintan, Langkawi and Redang. While planning how to maximise your dollar for an enjoyable trip, why not spare a couple of minutes on planning how to minimise your carbon footprint by choosing the best mode of transportation? What is a carbon footprint? Broadly speaking, your carbon footprint represents the amount of carbon dioxide emissions you contribute through actions and lifestyle, and the impact it has on the environment. And the top contributors to an individual’s carbon footprint include our lifestyle choices in terms of transportation and electricity usage at home.

These illustrations represent your carbon footprint based on your mode of transport. (Based on 1-way trip from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur)

The make of your car or the type of bus you take may affect the amount of CO2 generated as well! Other factors such as type of fuel employed will also contribute to varying CO2 emissions. Alternatively, you may consider taking a combination of different transportation modes – this could help you save time while cutting down on your CO2 emissions. For example, by taking a bus from Woodlands to Johor Bahru and taking a domestic flight from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur, the total time taken for the trip will amount to about 4.5 hours. Waiting time for domestic flights via Malaysian Airlines depends on the available flights of the day. To have a more accurate overview of the waiting time, you can visit the Malaysian Airlines website for its e-timetable.

How do I calculate it? There are a myriad of online carbon footprint calculators these days that report how you can measure exactly the levels of carbon dioxide emissions your actions and choices contribute. However, to make things simple, you can visit (www.carbonfoorint. com/calculator.aspx), enter your information into the relevant fields, and receive a quick calculation of your carbon footprint. So let’s compare how much of your carbon footprint are contributed based on your choice of transportation.

Destination: Singapore (From) - Kuala Lumpur (To) Approx. 191 miles / 307 kilometers (, 2009)

Modes of Transport Available:






By flight: time taken - approx. 45 minutes

By bus: time taken - approx. 5 hours

By car*: time taken – approx. 4 hours *Based on a Honda Civic 1.6L Auto 2000

And the winner is… By train: time taken - approx. 6 hours

How it works out: Taking a bus from Woodlands to Johor Bahru = 1 hour 30 minutes / 0.00 tonnes of CO2 emissions + Taking a bus from Johor Bahru to Senai Airport = 45 minutes / 0.00 tonnes of CO2 emissions + Domestic flights via MAS (waiting time between flights) = 1.5 hours Taking a domestic flight from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur = 45 minutes / 0.05 tonnes of CO2 emissions Estimated total time / CO2: 4.5 hours / 0.05 tonnes Opting for the most eco-efficient way to travel may not be the most time-efficient, but taking this small step towards minimising your carbon footprint can go a long way! Besides, isn’t going on a vacation all about taking your time to appreciate your surroundings and see the things you and I might have missed in our otherwise busy lives? When it comes to taking a break, as I always say, “there’s no better time than now!”

Useful Links on Carbon Footprint Carbon – Home of carbon management; learn more about managing your CO2 emissions and how it can save you money at home or at work! The Nature Conservancy – The leading conservation organisation working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. climatechange/

11th Issue Express!



Green Bits and Pieces of Eco-Friendly Goodness, in Your Life!

By Ramona Chia

What truly reflects our personalities, views of the world and styles of living?


n my opinion, the myriad of daily accessories we use represents who we are. When guests step into our bedrooms, peek into our closets and take a glance into our cabinets, they would immediately develop a good sense of who we are and what we believe in. Wouldn’t you agree? Therefore, it is time to make your life a little more guilt-free by stocking up your wardrobes with eco-friendly clothes and accessories! Beyond the evident proudto-own aspect of these items lies a dash of style, pizzazz and casual chic. More importantly, you don’t have to worry about them going out of fashion; they are, indeed, timeless.


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Baby organic pygmy elephant sleeveless bodysuit, $22.50

Bella and Dean Bella and Dean offers a wide variety of organic tees for toddlers and adults, with prints of endangered animals and plant species. All prints are meticulously handpainted using water-based ink. So, you might ask, what’s the great perk in wearing them? When we dress from Bella and Dean, we are in fact wearing pure organic cotton, free from artificial bleach! Wearing Bella and Dean exudes a feeling of poignancy as we are constantly reminded that wildlife populations, painted on our shirts, are dwindling each day due to our rapid urbanization of rich wildlife habitats. Moreover, it serves as a strong physical reminder that these

plants or animals are passive victims of the havoc we wreck in their living environment. Animals and plants cannot form a lobby, or march off to the Parliament to safeguard their habitats. That would be ridiculous! Hence, these tees represent a key part of a multitude of efforts to spread global awareness surrounding these vanishing species. Sounds great! How do I get them? You can order online at their official website: index.php Alternatively, just shop at all OG outlets in Singapore. It’s that simple!

Buds’ Cosmetics Singapore Buds’ Cosmetics is your one-stop outlet for all organic skincare and toiletry products, ranging from shampoos, shower foams, bath gels, moisturizers to essential oils and the works. What guilt-free consumption! Buds’ Cosmetics selects their products based on minimal resource consumption during manufacturing. Their products further emphasise their eco-friendliness with packaging in completely recyclable or reusable material! Furthermore, only paper bags are provided for your purchases! Did you know? By supporting organic ingredients, less soil contamination occurs with fewer pesticides used! We can save ourselves from worrying unduly about any harsh chemicals that may come into contact with our skin, as Buds’ Cosmetics operates on a ‘Nothing to Hide’ policy, which means nothing unwholesome goes into those bottles.

My personal picks:

Patyka Diffusion Organic Orange Shower Gel, $23.00

Patyka Diffusion Organic Menthe Shower Gel, $23.00

Filthy Farmgirl Muddy Puppy Dog Soap, $16.00

Dr Alkaitis group

For the environment, if you care, then wear!

Organic giraffe fitted tee $46.00

Organic peacock fitted tee $46.00

Sounds great! How do I get them? Buds’ Cosmetics Singapore is located at: #01-66 Square 2, 10 Sinaran Drive, Singapore 307506 Alternatively, shop through their website at Make bathing time a little more fun and creative by indulging your senses in these products, infused with natural elements!

In conclusion, these two brand picks are two of numerous green labels that have sprung up in the market, dedicated to ecofriendly causes. If green fashion apparel has anything in common, it may lie in the fact that their designs are “minimalist and chic”, without overly fanciful prints, heavy frills, or neon colors. Coming in mostly soothing hues and shades, these simple yet fetching designs are above all, made from earthfriendly materials. So, what are you waiting for? Take baby steps in becoming an eco-friendly fashionista today!

11th Issue Express!



our future I

magine yourself cruising along the highway in a futuristic and stylish car. You stop at a kiosk to recharge your battery and fill up your tank with biofuel or hydrogen. The most remarkable part is that your carbon footprint is almost nothing compared to your ancestors, who drove cars on traditional fuel. This is the ideal vision of green transportation. What a breath of fresh air! This dream inches a bit closer to reality at the Shell Eco-marathon (SEM). Originating from France more than 25 years ago, the SEM is an internationally acclaimed event, which challenges students to design and construct energy-efficient vehicles that travel the farthest distance with the least amount of fuel and carbon dioxide emission. Budding scientists and engineers conquer their wildest imagination in the innovation of green technology and concoction of alternative fuels for sustainability in today’s society where over-consumption and global warming have reached threatening levels. 24

Express! 11th Issue

The SEM 2010 will be held in Asia for the very first time, hosted by Malaysia at Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur, from 8 to 10 Jul 2010. At least seven Singapore Educational Institutes including Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Institute of Technical Education, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University, have expressed interest to take part in the event. At SEM 2009 in EuroSpeedway Lausitz, Germany, the aerodynamic Kent Ridge Urban Concept Eco-car (KRUCE) which was designed by the 10-member team from NUS, accomplished a stunning fifth place out of 66 teams in the Urban Concept category, a drastic improvement from SEM 2008 in France, where they ranked 18 out of 58 teams. They were also ranked fourth internationally in the Fuel Cell Vehicle category The team’s almost silent eco-friendly lightweight car, made of materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre reinforced polymers, attained an equivalent of 484 km on one litre of

By Stephanie Lee

petrol, and has water as the only emission. The NUS team was partially sponsored by Shell and worked closely with Gashub Technologies, a local renewable energy technology company. The 24-year-old NUS team leader Zhang WeiSheng said: “The marathon felt more like a carnival than a competition. Members from other teams shared ideas readily and were a ways ready to lend a helping hand.” Obviously, the SEM holds an atmosphere of fun with excellent sportsmanship. WeiSheng, who just kick-started his career as an Air Engineering Officer with the Republic of Singapore Air Force, has a keen interest in car design, loves traveling and claims that sky-diving is an awesome experience that everyone should try. Geared up in his sporty Saturday attire, he gave insights into the SEM. What type of research were you involved in building a car from scratch? I did a theoretical design of a car for my



The NUS team assembles their hydrogen fuel cell car for SEM 2009 in Germany.

ME3 (Mechanical Engineering 3) project. Most of my research and experiments were done then. After that I applied for the SEM as my Final Year Project (FYP), and had to go through one round of interview. With all the efforts put into the project over a period of ten months, I think I scored well for my FYP. We were working 12-hour days towards the end, with only 6 hours of sleep everyday. What were the challenges you faced during the competition? There was a hydrogen leakage in the pipe of our fuel cell car, and we took two entire days to resolve the problem! Thanks to the efforts of my hardworking team members and the help of a fellow SEM participant, we fixed the problem just in time for the technical inspection. Tell me something you learnt at the event. Well, in Germany, we had more chances to troubleshoot pit stops. Back home in Singapore, we can’t just drive the car on

the road wherever we like. It is illegal and not safe at all. We usually book the old Police Academy for our test runs. At the race, our performance at pit stops was important. We had to make three pit stops to simulate braking and accelerating in traffic. Certainly, nobody would want to drive a car that doesn’t brake well and is slow in acceleration. The trip was almost cancelled due to the H1N1 outbreak. How did that affect you? We were all very disappointed when the trip was cancelled at first. It was a pretty stressful situation, especially with all the time and effort we had invested. In the end, we decided to go as spectators instead. On our way to the marathon, I received a call that NUS had lifted the travel ban at the last moment and we were allowed to compete! We were very excited but mentally unprepared. First of all, we had to find our car and re-assemble it. We had to install the brakes and pump up the deflated tires, as pressurised vessels

were not allowed on the plane for safety reasons. The last minute approval by NUS came as a surprise and we didn’t bring a lot of equipment, including the fire extinguishers. Thankfully, we managed to borrow from the other teams who were very helpful. In spite of the last minute set-up, you still scored some amazing results at the competition. What were your thoughts about the competition? In this 3-day event, most teams do their primary runs on the first day, and another on the second. They compare the results and figure how to improve on the third run. For us, we only had one try starting on the third day because of the problems we faced earlier with the leaking pipes! We had to give it our best shot. When the results were released that we had come in 5th in the Urban Concept Category, we were overjoyed. There was no prize, but the accomplishment itself was very satisfying. 11th Issue Express!



The NUS team driver takes position and prepares for take off.


Express! 11th Issue



KRUCE is ready for its run on the tracks, with the NUS team ensuring that the car is in top condition. The NUS Team Leader Zhang WeiSheng (on the right wearing a cap).

How do you ensure the safety of the driver? Our driver has lots of experience driving KRUCE and making turns. He wore the required attire, which includes a fireproof suit, gloves, boots and a helmet. He put on a 5-point racing seatbelt and also had a fire extinguisher inside the car with him. We had a fire extinguisher with us too of course. No worries, he’s in safe hands. It must have been a great chance for you to meet people from all over the world. Yes, it was a good opportunity, but time was tight. Well, I did get to experience the European culture. There was a counter serving German sausages and beer with many participants gathering there for rest and relax. The German beer was one of best in the world. Most of the people there were French and some were volunteer students from nearby schools acting as

administrative officials. A few of the people I met are now my friends on Facebook. Any management tips to share from this event? I would say, manage your team wisely. Careful delegation of work is very important and the team should always work together to resolve issues. I learnt what I didn’t know before about leadership from this experience. It was great that all of us had the same goal to achieve only the best results. Did the economic crisis affect the project in any way? We had less sponsorship for sure this year, but the $40,000 budget was still sufficient, even though we had to spend quite a bit. Our school was very supportive of our participation in the SEM and we were never short of funds. With the amount we spent,

we could have bought a car. With a growing awareness of green technology and clean energy, what do you think cars will be like in the future? I envisage that cars in the future will become integrated pieces of an Eco-city, in which buildings, infrastructures, transportation and utilities form part of a living or business environment that commits itself to the highest level of environmental considerations. Cars would become financially feasible to each community. But the people utilizing this mode of personal transportation would be meeting short-term functional needs. Mass transportation would meet the mobility requirements for the majority, regardless of financial status. What advice do you have for the participants of SEM 2010? Set your goals early, and stick with it! 11th Issue Express!


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EXPRESS! is ECO Singapore’s official free quarterly magazine focused on environmental issues from a youth perspective for the youth. It was launched by a team of volunteers in 2005 and remains as one of the leading youth-oriented environmental magazines in Singapore. The EXPRESS! family believes that we can do much more by sharing our opinions and hopes on environmental issues with other youths.


Environmental Challenge Organisation Singapore's publication featuring the latest news about sustainable lifestyles


Environmental Challenge Organisation Singapore's publication featuring the latest news about sustainable lifestyles