Floods, landslides, haze, food security, and water shortages are some of the consequences brought about by extreme weather events due to climate change. These extreme weather events have also been occurring more frequently globally. From the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, Singapore Green Plan 2030, school education environment, to Net Zero Emissions by 2050, numerous goals have been developed to tackle climate change challenges and raise environmental awareness. However, many of the general public are still unsure how to lead a sustainable lifestyle.
“Sustainable living” is no longer an empty slogan in the era of global warming but an upcoming global trend for which everyone needs to be prepared for. In view of that, Tzu Chi Singapore has recently set up a permanent exhibition, the Glow On Gallery, to promote sustainable living to the general public.
On 30 July 2023, the Glow On Gallery located in the Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre was officially opened. Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, Ms Grace Fu, emphasised the importance of the role played by the gallery during the opening ceremony. She pointed out that climate change is currently one of the most concerning topics internationally and discussed its threat to our future and the youth. Through the unveiling of the Glow On Gallery at Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre, she hoped youths would be equipped with the knowledge to deal with environmental challenges.
Ms Grace Fu said, “The exhibition embodies Tzu Chi’s social efforts and environmental philosophy on “Co-existence with Mother Earth”, showing us how sustainability impacts all facets of our lives. Through the exhibition, our youths will learn more about environmental sustainability and hopefully be inspired to build and shape a community that is passionate about caring for our Mother Earth.”
The gallery showcased ways people can contribute towards a sustainable lifestyle from three aspects: environment, society, and economy. In the tug-a-war between good and evil, the side that garners more support will eventually win. Therefore, the collective effort of every individual is vital to make the impossible possible, which is to achieve the target of keeping global warming within the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius and to maintain a stable and resilient society.
As mentioned by Tzu-Chi Foundation (Singapore) CEO Low Swee She in his speech during the opening ceremony, every plastic bottle discarded into the waste bin was merely a misplaced useful resource. He cited an example in Taiwan where environmental volunteers transformed plastic bottles into blankets using technology, which were distributed during disaster relief operations. This demonstrated how environmental, social, and economic sustainability can work in tandem. Such stories of trial and error learning can be found in the Glow On Gallery.
So how could we show our concern towards people in need without impacting the environment negatively? To answer this question, Low Swee Seh stated that when Tzu Chi was designing this gallery, the Foundation took great care to reduce its overall carbon footprint during the process through ways such as utilizing recycled materials. In fact, Tzu Chi Singapore managed to reduce 670kg of carbon emission in the process, equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by 30 trees within a year.
As Tzu Chi Singapore ushers in its 30th anniversary, Low Swee Seh expressed that Tzu Chi will continue its work within the community by gathering the kindness and effort of like-minded people in charity, medicine, education, humanistic culture, and environmental protection. Through the collective effort, Tzu Chi hopes to be able to aid and support the vulnerable groups in Singapore and strengthen the social safety net of Singapore so as to achieve a more resilient and cohesive society.
During the opening ceremony, approximately five hundred people ranging from government agency representatives, grassroots leaders, local social groups, Tzu Chi’s partnering organisations, and Tzu Chi volunteers gathered to witness the monumental moment. Among the guests invited included National Environment Agency CEO Mr Wong Kang Jet, Member of Parliament (MP) of Marsiling-Yew Tee (Woodgrove division) Ms Hany Soh, MP of Nee Soon GRC (Nee Soon South division) Ms Carrie Tan and MP of Ang Mo Kio GRC (Jalan Kayu division) Ms Ng Ling Ling.
Senior Programme Director for both Chinese stations of Singapore Press Holdings (UFM100.3，96.3 Hao FM), Miss Carine Ang, volunteered to serve as a docent for the Glow On Gallery on its opening day. After visiting the gallery, she said, “Humans need to be constantly reminded.” She believed that if people were willing to visit the gallery, they would realize that there are numerous small acts they could adopt in their daily lives to live more sustainably. She explained that many people often felt that adopting a sustainable lifestyle involves drastic lifestyle modification. However, the truth is that even simple gestures in our daily lives could contribute to sustainable living.
Miss Carine Ang also said, “Glow On Gallery was inspired by the firefly, which is also an important indicator of a suitable environment, for the fireflies can only live in a conducive environment. One day, if we are unable to find any fireflies in our land, that’s when we will also realize our land is no longer suitable for living. This is a very beautiful symbolism and also a very good reminder for us.”