“Singapore’s only landfill on Semakau Island will run out of space by 2035. What are we going to do after that?“
A staff member from WOW Kampung posed this question to a group of residents.
They were part of the group of staff from WOW Kampung, the education arm of Ground-Up Initiative (GUI), and 20-plus residents aged between 40 to 70, who were visiting the Tzu Chi Eco Awareness Centre on 12th October 2019.
To raise the environmental awareness of the public, Clean and Green Singapore had organised a series of learning journeys, including visits to the Tzu Chi Eco Awareness Centre, Semakau Landfill, Kampung Kampu, etc. Participants could learn about where their waste goes, and how they could play a part in the national efforts towards Zero Waste.
The visit to the Eco Awareness Centre was scheduled on 12th, 14th, and 19th October 2019, and staff from WOW Kampung served as docents at the environmental education exhibition area. Through explanations from the docents, the visitors learned valuable environmental knowledge, including the 5Rs of sustainability, “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, and Recycle”.
“We hope to let them know what can be recycled and what cannot be recycled, and also, the colour of the bin they should throw their recyclables into,” shared one of the three staff members from WOW Kampung who had planned for this trip.
He added that the Tzu Chi Eco Awareness Centre related closely to the residents as they were able to see how other residents do recycling there and learn about environmental protection.
“Is it more cost effective to burn the trash or to recycle it?” asked a curious visitor.
She could not help but raise this question, after hearing a Tzu Chi volunteer explain the tedious process of sorting paper recyclables.
In response, Tzu Chi volunteer Lee Kwei Mean gave the example that although burning forest is the most direct way of clearing land, it causes serious environmental problems. He quoted the example of how the destruction of the Amazon is causing much pollution and harm to the planet.
“There is only one Earth. When we pollute the environment, we are consuming Earth’s resources in advance,” explained Lee. He patiently stressed that although recycling work requires a lot of time and effort, people must persevere in doing it.
After the visitor heard his explanations, she was very surprised and commented, “It is very easy to simply throw all the trash away, but Tzu Chi is willing to put in so much effort to sort it out for recycling.”
“Singapore has only one landfill, and it will be filled up soon. We must learn to cut down on trash,” she added.
She further said that a lot of people keep buying “eco products” in response to environmentalism, but they should, in fact, reduce consumption in order to reduce waste at the source. She commented that recycling is not an easy feat and moreover, a lot of recyclables donated by people are not being dealt with properly. Lastly, she described this trip as a “very cool learning journey”.
In his National Day Rally speech this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong specially highlighted the urgent issue of climate change and rising sea levels. He stressed that every individual in Singapore has “a role to play by reducing waste and being sustainable in their daily habits”, in to order to help mitigate the impact of climate change on our nation.