Wednesday, 19 December 2007

WELL DONE YEGs@Mayflower

Great News. These YEGs have been awarded GOLD for the Environment Champions Badge.

The EC Badge rewards ECs who are actively involved in environmental activities and have been keeping environmental issues alive in their school and local community.

Aside from delivering environmental talks and presentations to their school-mates, these ECs also work closely with their teacher-mentors, or Environmental Educational Advisors (EEAs), to spearhead environmental initiatives for their school. This is an on-going effort and by no means, a smooth-sailing one, on top of an already challenging academic curriculum. Hence, to reward the efforts and outcomes of these deserving ECs and inspire them to new and better achievements, NEA launches the 'Environment Champions Badge'.

Badge Hierarchy

There are 3'P's, or levels of attainment to the EC Badge - Participate, Persuade, Propagate. This categorization is indicative of the direction toward which the ECs' efforts should progress. Whichever level ECs have clearly shown their strength in earns them a corresponding Bronze, Silver or Gold EC badge :

Participate -> Bronze
Persuade -> Silver
Propagate -> Gold

Participate - As a first step toward environmental proactiveness, an EC is first and foremost, an active participant of external environmental programmes on issues such as waste management, public health, energy conservation, weather studies and so forth.

Persuade - With exposure gained and knowledge gathered from environmental programmes, the next stage calls for action from an EC to educate and inspire an environmental movement in his own school community. Bonus points for students who not only implement programmes and initiatives in their school but have actually initiated these programmes and initiatives, in some way, through their creative suggestions and input.

Propagate - The highest level of recognition is for an EC whose concern for the environment takes him beyond the confines of the school and seeks to inspire the larger community to assume personal responsibility for the environment.

These YEGs@Mayflower have propagate the following activities in the neighbourhood and Singapore apart from various other activities held in school.

1.Pesented findings on littering at the 3rd Environmental Regional Workshop in March 07.

2 Went on a House-to-House Visit with MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Mrs Josephine Teo to spread the message of dengue prevention to the residents in Toa Payoh in April 07

3. Presented a skit on dengue prevention at the Teck Ghee Community Walk Against Dengue in June 07 and

4.Participated in the Clean and Green Week 2007 Schools Carnival in November 2007.

The YEGs appeared in a poster for anti-littering.

They also appear in a poster as part of National Day celebration in Ang Mo Kio GRC.

Clean and Green Singapore School Carnival 2007

The CGS Schools’ Carnival is a milestone event showcasing the efforts of our students from the many environmental programmes and competitions that were held in conjunction with various private and public sector partners during the year.

The Clean and Green Singapore Schools' Carnival 2007 took place from 6 November 2007to 7th November 2007 at Suntec Exhibition Hall 403 & 404.

The YEGs@Mayflower decided to explore the possibility of using local herbs and plants as insect repellent.

It brings together a host of activities to highlight environmental issues such as energy efficiency, climate change, waste minimization and recycling, dengue prevention and the importance of not littering and keeping our schools and public areas clean.

Mayflower YEGs was on hand to promote this new project.

The teachers in charge of YEGs :Ms Sherri, Ms Faridah and Ms Ess

Monday, 10 December 2007

Clean and Green Singapore

The Clean and Green Singapore 2007 programme, organised by the National Environment Agency (NEA), was officially launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 3 November at Bishan Park.

The programme was marked by a myriad of exciting and yet educational activities that underpin its primary thrust to instill an environmentally friendly lifestyle into every Singaporean.

To support the global effort in fighting global warming, Clean & Green Singapore (CGS) has been transformed from the Clean & Green Week, held annually for the past 17years, into an initiative with a strategic role to address environmental issues and challenges in Singapore.

A group of new YEG was on hand to spread the message to the public the importance of taking care of the environment. They explained to the public how the use of natural insect repellent is better than the chemical ones sold which might have harmful effect.

The YEG waiting for the arrival of the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Lee was also interested in how he can play a role in using natural insect repellent. Here the YEGs explained to him how pandan leaves can be an effective repellent for cockroach.

One of our YEG, Kenneth Lim was especially invited to meet the Prime Minister who was interested in Kenneth's work in the YEG.

Mayflower YEG's work in 2007 were also featured at this event. Another YEG, Eugine was the poster boy for this event.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Students helm efforts in war on mozzies

An article from Straits Time featuring the YEG
July 2, 2007,By Magdalen Ng

Skit, talks among activities initiated by youngsters to educate peers on dengue

WITH the number of dengue cases looming dangerously close to epidemic levels, schools are taking their roles in the war against the Aedes mosquito very seriously.

At Mayflower Secondary School, six Secondary 4 students from the Youth Environmental Group (YEG) are actively spreading the message on how everyone can do their part to prevent mosquito breeding.
They were invited to present their skit - Clean Up, Bin It, Don't Breed It - which portrays the reaction of a housewife when environmental officers do house visits, at the Teck Ghee Community Walk Against Dengue two weeks ago.
Hoping to create greater awareness in their school community as well, they intend to present the skit to every class.

Speaking proudly of her students, Mrs Frances Ess, the teacher in charge of the YEG, said: 'They have managed to pass the anti-dengue message in a more digestible way through humour, and have definitely made an impact.'

Currently, schools are being fogged once a month. For schools located near the identified clusters, site inspections will be intensified and additional fogging carried out if necessary, said a Ministry of Education spokesman.

During the recent school holidays, workshops were also conducted to educate school operations managers on the dengue situation and encourage the adoption of effective anti-dengue measures.
Many schools are not stopping at that. Like Mayflower Secondary, the schools have initiated their own anti-dengue campaigns, with students at the

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Let's all take part in beating the buzz

OF LATE, there has been a sharp increase in dengue cases, which is shocking considering that the Government has put in extra efforts to help alleviate the problem.

I was at the event last Saturday when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talked about the dengue problem in Singapore. During his speech, I looked up at the bamboo pole holders of the flats nearby and spotted many that were uncovered.

What this proves is that some residents are either forgetful or uncooperative.

The Government has organised many campaigns to tackle dengue, and there are many agencies spreading the message to stop mosquitoes from breeding. However, I see many people take things for granted and feel they need not do anything since others are already doing the job.

However, we cannot be too dependent on the work of the Government as the dengue problem can only be solved if we work together with them. If we do not cooperate with the authorities, the dengue issue will worsen as there are simply too many potential mosquito breeding sites.

If the Government and the relevant agencies are willing to spend time to educate us on how to prevent mosquito breeding, shouldn't we return the favour by cooperating with them and join in the efforts to tackle this problem?

This article first appeared in Today on 26th June 2007



Residents Find MPs More Annoying Than Mozzies
Posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Topic: Politics
by K.K. Cheow

The residents of Hong Kan GRC claim their MPs are a bigger nuisance than mosquitoes.

“Seow leow,” said Bukit Gorblok St 69 resident Ho Lang Char. “I come home from a busy work day and want to relax, then skarly my MP turn up at my door with his whole swarm come and bug me! Wah lan eh!”

The latest outbreak of MPs is apparently due to the anti-dengue campaign being waged by the Gahmen, with MPs making house to house visits.

“The problem is getting worse,” said Mdm Gatal bte Nyamuk of Bukit Buttocks St 88. “Last time, the MPs would come only once every few years to ask me how I’m doing, to kiss my baby and ask me to vote them. Now, they’re coming round to ask me to check my plants lah, clear my drains lah… leceh, sial!”

It is believed the population of MPs is actually growing.

“Last time my constituency only got one,” said Mrs. Chin Chuay Bang. “Now, hwah! Got at least 5! It’s an MPdemic!”

“Yah lor,” said her neighbour Mister Moh Pee Koh. “Everywhere I turn, void deck lah, market lah, CC lah, I also see their faces. At first just on notice boards or on billboards during festivals. But now also on posters and pamphlets telling me to fight the mosquitoes. Make me sick only!”

Political scientists believe that stagnant electoral conditions are causing more of these bloodsuckers to breed.

Worse, they are becoming genetically more resistant to traditional methods of destruction.

“Last time you could give them a slap and stop them,” said Mister Teo Bang Kah. “But I understand that this new breed will slap you back!”

Sunday, 24 June 2007

So here's my reflection regarding yesterday's presentation at the Teck Ghee Community walk against dengue on 23rd June 2007.

Yesterday, while PM Lee was giving his speech, I realised that some of the flats nearby had their bamboo pole holders uncovered. During the skit, my disappointment faded away when I saw the attendance of the residents was as all the seats were full, so much so that we could not even find seats for ourselves after the skit presentation. I guessed the skit was a success, judging by the way the audience laughed at various parts of the skit. Who would have guess that the person who laughed the loudest was Prime Minister Lee.

I was honoured to be part of the programme as I get to spread the message to residents 'bout the importance of stopping the dengue problem. Although I was just part of yesterday's campaign, the presence of PM Lee sent me a message about how important every parts of the programme were. After our presentation, there was a group of children from the NTUC Childcare Learning Centre presenting another skit. It was very entertaining, and the important fact is that residents learn 'bout how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding while laughing at the same time.

I hope that more similar events will take part in the future as yesterday's experience proves how effective such events are in spreading the message to stop the dengue fever and educating the public in a fun and entertaining manner.

Lim Chun Tat Kenneth (4J)

Reflections on Dengue Prevention Exercise, Saturday (23/6/2007)

By Koh Fang Qi

Koh Fang Qi (extream left) featured with the rest of the YEGs for the NEA poster.

Based on today’s programme, I really enjoyed myself as we had fun there and we certainly did the school proud. So, let’s take things one at a time and I shall begin with our skit presentation. All of us were fully prepared and I believed that PM Lee, invited guests and the residents of Teck Ghee GRC enjoyed our skit based on their laughter. Although a small problem cropped up in between the skit due to the microphone, it did not affect our overall performance that badly.

Here comes to the main point I’m driving at. Although we were presenting the four steps in an entertaining way, our main message is still to educate the public on the proper ways to prevent breeding of mosquitoes that causes dengue fever. By doing so, residents will be able to minimize the chances of getting dengue fever within the zone they belong to. Dengue fever is becoming more and more crucial as days pass. Therefore, we should all the more promote practicing the four steps of dengue prevention and pass the knowledge and benefits we have on this exercise to our friends and relatives.

As this topic is highly concerned by various people nowadays due to the increasing cases of Singaporeans suffering from dengue fever, we have to take into serious consideration on how important dengue prevention exercises are now. The DPVG (Dengue Prevention Volunteer Group) has been going through home visits to educate the people on dengue prevention and to demonstrate the 4 ways in keeping their unit free from mosquitoes. Booklets, information sheets, insecticides and bamboo pole holders are given to residents in a HOMES kit during home visits. These necessities are tools needed to carry out the 4 steps of dengue prevention. For example, we have to cover the bamboo pole holders when they are not in use. As such, the residents will have a better understanding on dengue prevention and its seriousness. Through this, they will also be able to pass on the message correctly.

In conclusion, I am supportive of these activities by bonding residents with their various MPs to cooperate and to keep their own zone free from dengue. If each of us play our part by keeping the environment clean and clearing all stagnant waters on alternate days, we will be able to make a difference by staying away from dengue. Always remember, “Let’s Clean Up, Bin It and Don’t Breed It!”

Saturday, 23 June 2007

YEG's in action in Teck Ghee


"Clean UP, Bin It, Don't Breed It"

The YEGs giv were given another opportunity to work with NEA in the national campaign against dengue fever.

The YEG first participated with the MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Mrs Josephine Teo on Friday, 27 Apr 2007 for a House-to-House Visit to spread the message of dengue prevention to the residents in ToaPayoh.

Following that they were invited to present a skit entitled Clean Up, Bin It, Don’t Breed It at the Teck Ghee Community walk against dengue on Saturday 23rd June 2007.

The Guest of Honour for this event was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who has taken a personal interest in educating the residents of his constituency about the danger of dengue fever.

Using humour and a light-hearted manner to perform the skit, the YEGs was able to reach out to the residents in Teck Ghee Community about the steps that they should take to prevent the breading of the Aedes Mosquito.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Change litterbugs’ mentality to get to the roots of the problem

ON A recent school trip, I visited various places in the Central Business District (CBD) such as the Supreme Court and the Old Parliament House. What I realised about this area is that it is virtually litter-free.

This got me thinking: Why is it cleaner than most other parts of Singapore?
One reason is that people may perceive the CBD as a place of high security and have the impression that those who litter in the area will likely be caught.

But does this mean we can litter elsewhere? I don’t think so. Everyone knows it is wrong to
itter but the problem lies with those who believe that so long as they are not caught, it is acceptable to do so.

One country that I can think of that is almost litter-free is Japan. There, if you walk along the streets, you will realise there are only a small number of dustbins, much fewer as compared to Singapore. Some Singaporeans’ mentality is, “I can litter as long as there is nobody around”, while the mentality of the Japanese is, “If there is no dustbin around, I will go and find one”.

We have to educate the public on the negative effects of littering. We should not forget that littering is the root of many problems, ranging from killer litter to pollution.

This article first appeared in Today on 1st June 2007


Friday, 25 May 2007

Taking efforts for granted

Regarding the article "Spike in dengue cases; one dead" by Loh Chee Kong published on 25th May, I think that we must all put in efforts to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. According to the article, there is a sharp increase in dengue cases. This is rather shocking considering the fact that the government has put in extra efforts in an attempt to solve this problem. It seems like these efforts are backfiring.

Even though there are many agencies out there spreading the message to stop mosquitoes from breeding, people tend to take things for granted. There will definitely be people out there who think that they do not need to do anything since these agencies are already doing the job. Well this is not true. We cannot be too dependent on these agencies as the dengue problem can only be solved if we work together with these agencies. No matter what the agencies do, it is not enough. This is because if people are not willing to cooperate with these agencies, the problem will never be solved as there are too many potential mosquito breeding places.

Therefore, I think that the government should not just plainly concentrate on spreading the message that we should stop mosquitoes from breeding, but instead, aim to gain the support of the people first. For example, the government can reward people who do not have reported cases of dengue fever. This might be costly, but people who take the effort to stop mosquitoes from breeding will feel that the government recognises their efforts and thus, keep up with what they are doing. At the same time, they will also encourage their friends and relatives to stop mosquitoes from breeding. This method does not only appeal to the people to keep up with their efforts in stopping mosquitoes from breeding, but also helps spread the message quicker and more efficiently.

But that's not all. One of the agencies, the National Environment Agency (NEA), has put in a lot of efforts in spreading the message that we should stop mosquitoes from breeding. However, there is one problem, agencies like the NEA are just not influential enough. This is due to the fact that they are simply 'outnumbered'. I think that agencies like the NEA spread the message effectively, but only to certain people as the NEA does not have the manpower. The grassroot leaders should play a part too. They should make use of their manpower and influence to help spread the message.

Finally, it is important that we give our support to the government and the environmental agencies as the problem can only be solved if we are willing to cooperate.

Spike in dengue cases; one dead

This article first appeared in TODAY on 25th May 2007
By Loh Chee Kong

SEVEN government agencies were present at a press conference yesterday to update the public on efforts to control the dengue problem, which has claimed its first life this year.
The media briefing on the subject at the National Environment Agency (NEA) building reflected not just a worsening dengue situation but also official concern that the public has yet to take the anti-dengue message seriously.
One key concern is that the number of breeding grounds found in homes has shot up. This even as government agencies and town councils go all out in their "search-and-destroy" missions to stamp out breeding sites in public places.
According to the NEA, from April to mid-May, larvae were found in 776 homes. Among the identified dengue clusters, residential properties accounted for 84.9 per cent of breeding sites.
"With the agencies doing so much, the mosquitoes, driven by their survival instincts, are not going to say, 'That's it. We are leaving Singapore.' What does it mean? These efforts may in fact drive the mosquitoes to look to households to lay their eggs," said Dr Steven Ooi, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) Communicable Diseases Division.
He also revealed that an 85-year-old man had died from dengue on April 28.
The man had suffered from chronic diseases, including diabetes, but preliminary tests show that the Dengue Shock Syndrome was the cause of death.
His death came amid a spike in dengue cases over the past two months – that were characterised by intermittent rain and warm weather.
This month, an average of 167 cases have been reported each week, about three times the number in the same period last year, and also higher than during the 2005 dengue epidemic.
Based on past trends, dengue cases tend to peak every six years, said MOH. It added that "2006 was clearly seen as an inter-epidemic year" and this year marks the start of a new cycle.
While it was "improbable" that the number of cases would hit 2005's record levels, "if the trend is left unchecked, disease momentum will cause a worsening situation for 2008 and subsequent years," said MOH.
Since last December, there had been a shift in the predominant dengue strain from DEN-1 to DEN-2, which was last dominant in 2003. This could account for the recent spike in cases, as the immunity among Singaporeans over the last four years against the DEN-1 virus "offers little or no protection" to the DEN-2 virus, MOH added.
NEA's chief executive officer Lee Yuen Hee, who also chairs an inter-agency task force, said recent surveys showed that the public seemed to be aware of the problem and how to curb it. "But in translating that into action, the public can do more," he said.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

So here's my reflection for today's "kill the mosquitoes" project haha.

If you take some time to think about the issue of dengue fever, it actually comes down to one thing: laziness. Well, I personally think that people are just LAZY to take the correct measures in preventing the Andes mosquitoes from breeding. Some might argue that some people are unaware of it, but there are advertisements on these measures all over the place, on TVs, sometimes even on radios. There are banners around, advertising the hotline? I mean, if you are REALLY unaware, just call! I think that if everybody can do their part, and make an effort to follow these measures, I do not think that dengue fever will be that deadly anymore.
It is strange really, since these measures are for the sake of our lives, not just me, you or anybody, but rather, it is everybody. So, the real deadly problem here is not the disease itself, but instead, it is the attitude of some irresponsible people who cannot see the need to protect their own lives.
Today's project was very inspiring, in the sense that at least I get to see people actually advising people on how to deal with the breeding of mosquitoes in action. Normally, I just see it on Tv or some newspapers, but seeing this 'live' and actually becoming a part of this project just inspires me to do more. More than just house visits, or campaigns.

However, today while going door-to-door to give out pamphlets, I also got to see the ugly sight of people, some people actually asked us to 'shoo' as if we were some salesmen, it is rather ridiculous that we are here, trying to save their lives, and they just sit in their homes, not giving attention to this major issue. They should at least realise that this issue is so major because of our irresponsibility.
Concluding my long reflection, I will like to again, stress that it is our own responsibility to protect our own lives, and not the responsibilities of some other caring people who actually CARES about our lives when we don't. Therefore, the importance of this issue need not be repeated.

Kenneth Lim (4J)

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Energy efficiency guidelines for homes and industries to come: Amy Khor

This article first appeared in TODAY on 18th April 2007
Christie Loh

Instead of leaving your electronic devices on standby mode, why not switch them off?

This may be one of the recommendations for households under a soon-to-come national energy efficiency plan, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, said at a conference yesterday.

The initiative to reduce energy usage is part of a wider effort to address environmental concerns amid economic growth and global warming. Temperatures have been rising to the earth's detriment due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide.

The guidelines may also include the optimal level of electricity that households should use in order to save the earth.

However, climate-change plans should target companies, as households account for just 10 per cent of total carbon dioxide emission here, said Associate Professor Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA).

The energy efficiency plan — currently being formulated by the National Environment Agency (NEA) — will cover both households and businesses. There is no set deadline for completion, Dr Khor told reporters after delivering a speech at the Shell-SIIA forum on corporate social responsibility and the environment.

When asked if the guidelines could become legislation, she said: "At the moment, they will be recommendations."

There will also be measures tailored to specific industries such as transportation and pharmaceuticals.

"There is no one-size-fits-all. Different sectors of the economy will have different challenges and circumstances," Dr Khor said.

Her comments come on a week busy with green announcements — tomorrow will see the start of a two-day conference of the United Nations' first Global Business Summit for the Environment.

Singapore is aiming by 2012 to cut the country's carbon intensity by 25 per cent from 1990 levels. In 2005, carbon intensity — defined as carbon dioxide emissions per dollar of gross domestic product — was down by 22 per cent.

Say No to Plastic Bag

By Lee U-Wen This article was first published in Today on 18.4.2007

YOU may not realise it, but each day, nearly every one of us brings a pest into the home. They are small, mostly pink, blue or white in colour, adaptable to land and water, and have caused the deaths of countless animals and fish around the world.

This lethal monster is none other than the plastic bag, a flimsy everyday item that we simply cannot do without, yet has been the scourge of many cities, even countries, which have rallied to impose taxes or ban them altogether.

The global war against plastic bags — something that most people use for only a short while but takes hundreds of years to break down — is picking up steam, most notably in San Francisco, which last month became the first American city to ban non-biodegradable plastic bags. Shoppers there now must use paper bags when they buy groceries, or carry their own bags from home. The move came after weeks of intense lobbying from environmentalists.

San Francisco joins a select group that has taken a major step forward in saving the earth, including Rwanda, Bangladesh, South Africa, Mumbai and Bhutan which have already imposed their own ban. Paris will join the list at the end of this year, with the rest of France following suit by 2010.

Why, then, is Singapore, a much smaller city and one that has serious aspirations of making its mark as a champion of green technology, not following suit in a big way?

A National Environment Agency (NEA) study revealed that Singaporeans use about 2.5 billion plastic bags each year — the equivalent of 19 million kilogrammes of waste.

Ever since a heated debate on plastic bags was sparked off in this newspaper some two years ago, the awareness of the problem has gone up somewhat. A national campaign to encourage the use of reusable bags has taken off well with more than 100,000 such bags sold at many major supermarkets.

More significantly, today marks Singapore's first Bring Your Own Bag Day, where more than 200 supermarkets will encourage customers to use reusable bags. That it is not just a one-off campaign, but one that will take place every first Wednesday of the month, is also laudable.

But we can do better. We need to speed up the push to bring down the use of plastic bags here.

The Government certainly believes enough in Singaporeans' changing attitudes towards environment issues, seeing how it is investing millions of dollars to study clean energy and launching eco-friendly flats in Punggol.

But time and again, whenever the plastic bag problem surfaces, we get the same message from the lawmakers, that it prefers not to impose legislation, but rather work with voluntary schemes and allow consumers and the market to take the lead.

Encouragingly, the door to legislation is not fully closed, as NEA chief executive Lee Yuen Hee said last week that he had not ruled out making it a law if the plastic bag situation does not improve here.

Then the question is, when is that breaking point for such a move to happen? What would it take for lawmakers here to introduce a law in Parliament? I believe that if we continue to take the ground-up route, we can never expect any significant progress to be made in a country where people have grown up expecting plastic bags to be given to us free.

Realistically, banning plastic bags completely is not completely feasible, given our heavy dependence on them, be it at the wet market or to contain garbage at home.

A plastic tax is perhaps the best way to make consumers think twice about whether they really need that bag when they buy their pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a loaf of bread. Such a tax is already taking off in many countries around the world. If you're out shopping in Taiwan or Ireland, be prepared to fork out anywhere from five to 20 cents for a plastic bag.

Last June, Ikea stores in the United Kingdom started charging its customers 10 pence (30 cents) per bag, a move which the furniture giant said could cut down plastic bag usage by a whopping 20 million by this year. Its two stores here recently became the first retail stores to start charging for plastic bags.

How Singapore can do one better is to promise that every single cent collected from its plastic bag tax goes towards green effort, be it for more recycling centres, running environmental programmes in schools, or to various non-profit groups such as the Environmental Challenge Organisation and the Singapore Environment Council.

You do the maths — a nominal tax of, say, five cents multiplied by 2.5 billion bags would add up to an astonishing $125 million to fund meaningful causes. But until then, let us try to cut down our usage in whatever small way we can.

With April 22 being Earth Day — a special day to celebrate the Earth and remind ourselves of its scarce resources — each of us can do our part by refusing that plastic bag when we go shopping, or even better, bring along a reusable bag.

That would be the best present you could ever give to Mother Nature. And it's much better than having to deal with yet another law breathing down our necks.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Editorial in Sunday Time 15.4.2007 on the use of Plastic Bag


You will have to pay between five to ten cents for the plastic bag on the left.

The store is playing it parts to save the environment by making customers use recycleable bags like the one shown on the right.

IT WAS a matter of time before the furniture store Ikea brought to its Singapore operations the idea of a tax on plastic carrier bags.

It will take effect this month, varying between five and 10 cents. The intent is praiseworthy, even if the green movement here struggles for attention.

There is doubt many Singaporeans will take kindly to paying, if indirectly, for a cause as nebulous as environmental protection.

Just keeping the living environment clean, known to one and all as the anti-litter campaign, has been a losing proposition. It's a stretch for the average person to relate plastic throwaways to the chemistry of the sub-oil and the pathology of oil politics, oil being an element in plastics manufacture.

The kopitiam test is the best: Would they pay to advertise for Ikea by lugging its logo around with their shopping? This is the connection people are inclined to make. It can be circumvented if Ikea and other retailers the National Environment Agency is roping in for the campaign to reduce plastics use offer substitutes.

But take heart. Environmentalists can still prevail, though by default. If more shops start charging and consumers resist paying for the convenience, their use will fall sharply. Businesses can stimulate the fortuitous trend by offering reusable cloth, jute and hardy paper bags. Even if chargeable, they can be used for a long while.

This ought to be the real focus of the campaign to change shopper habits. Ikea had launched its drive in the United States and Britain. Usage has fallen markedly. Let's be clear about plastic's culpability.

Even partly biodegradable bags now available release toxicity through burning. They are known to harm animal life through ingestion. They cause flooding by clogging drains. Children have suffocated slipping them over their heads at play. They have little incidental use, other than as wrapping for rubbish which perpetuates the environmental damage.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

About the green audit award

Dear YEG,
Mayflower has been working to make the school green. We have embark on the green Audit Award as a way to see how far we have come and how much more we have to do

Below is a write up about the award from the website How Green is my school.

We will be asking all YEG to play their part. There is only one Earth. OURS.

The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) is giving out awards to schools that participate in its "How Green is Your School" programme.
This programme comes with a self-help manual, which will assist your school in gauging its level of green-consciousness.

The Programme is a simple environmental audit programme.
The students will calculate amongst other things the school's usage of:

- Water- Electricity
As well as the amount and type of rubbish that is generated by the:
- School canteen
- School office/staff room
- Classrooms
- School garden/others

From these findings, students will be able to suggest ways to save and cut down on unnecessary wastage and find ways to reduce and recycle the garbage that is generated.
The programme hopes to highlight that as an individual, and collectively as a group, we are able to make a difference to our environment.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Dump that apathy towards littering

Straits Time April 2, 2007

Fed-up with being known as litterbugs, youth say its time to clean up their act

THE National Environment Agency (NEA) recently published its findings of a six-month survey on littering behaviour in Singapore.

The report noted that older Singaporeans are more likely to refrain from littering because they believe it is harmful to the environment.

Those between 20 and 39 years old, however, do not see littering as socially unacceptable. Here is what some youth had to say about it:

Litter, a little problem?

WE LIVE in a country where more often than not, foreigners clean up after us. This statement applies to the home, where we employ maids to clean up, and outdoors, where foreign workers don yellow vests and sweep our trash away.

But I reject the notion that younger Singaporeans are not environmentally conscious. After all, we are inundated almost daily with news about the sad state of Mother Nature.

From the issue of excessive carbon emissions, to the haze and global warming, there is no shortage of reminders that our world is bleeding and we need to do something.

Youth are quick to rally for causes that promote awareness of such issues, and what we as a nation can do about it.

However, this fixation on such macro issues has caused us to overlook the fact that littering is a harmful activity on any scale.

Until the issue of littering is given the same status as other dangerous harmful issues such as global warming, littering will remain an aesthetic issue, something a foreign worker can sweep away.

Yusuf Abdol Hamid, 21, is doing national service and graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2005 with a diploma in mass communication.

Just plain rude

A CLEANER toils through picking up stray food wrappers - not enough to rend the heart? What about a pregnant pedestrian who slips on a plastic bag?

Numerous accessible avenues for waste disposal aside, the inconvenience, danger and all-round unpleasantness posed by the careless discarding of refuse make it intolerable.

Unfortunately, it seems litterbugs may feel compelled to kick the habit only if their thoughtless behaviour is shown to have as immediate an effect on them as it does on others who have to suffer them.

Perhaps advertising campaigns can provide that kind of perspective.
Either make them feel the pinch, or underscore the fact that littering damages the very environment they share with others who have managed to do their part in keeping it clean.

Soh Weijie, 20, is waiting to study English at university.

Start younger

I WAS surprised to read this article deftly dismissing young people as perceiving littering as acceptable. As a member of this demographic group and fervent nature lover, I am rather appalled at the results.

However, I do accept the sentiments that young people may be a big problem when it comes to littering. I have a few ideas why this is so.

First, upbringing plays a large part, and education on resource waste, public hygiene and the impact of solid waste on the environment must be taught in the young.

Certainly, a problem with Singapore youth also lies in the peculiar adolescent need to act out.
In schools, for instance, leaving trash lying around without a care may come across as 'cool' to sworn rebels.

Besides, our urban environment is never very unclean because of the army of cleaners under the NEA's employ.

Singaporeans are brought up knowing that if they leave an empty can on the pavement, a paid cleaner will come along sooner or later to clean up.

Liana Tang, 22, is a fourth-year undergraduate at the National University of Singapore studying biology.

Time for wake-up call

THIS generation takes it for granted that mobile vacuum cleaners will always clean up after them.

Growing apathy towards picking up one's own litter stems from upbringing, where the younger generation is pampered.

Impressionable children learn quickly. Anyone conveniently littering, hoping their rubbish will 'blow away', will spur them to follow suit.

While we can claim our littering to be inevitable because of the lack of dustbins, it is certainly not so hard to just hang on to our own waste.

If constant reminders from parents, teachers and friends are the only way to get the message across - that litter won't clean up itself - then perhaps it is the wake-up call we need. By not paying attention to who is clearing up our trash, the cycle of littering and cleaning will never end.
Eunice Quek, 20, is a second-year student at Nanyang Technological University studying English.

Get your hands dirty

EDUCATING youth about environmental ownership must go beyond the mundane classroom setting of geography and science subjects. It must be done in a fun, engaging and proactive way that encourages student participation.

Currently, the NEA organises the annual Clean and Green Week Schools Carnival, which includes exhibitions, seminars and design competitions using recycled materials.

More of these can be conducted for students, incorporating the theme of anti-littering.
Students stand to learn more from the hands-on experience of planning, organising and executing these activities.

For young offenders, counselling is a good solution, but it must be coupled with a deterrent - deserving punishment in the form of corrective work - to be effective.
Perhaps young offenders should be given a 'lighter sentence'. They should be made to carry out corrective work only in their school compound, unlike their adult counterparts who have to do it in public places.

Chew Zhi Wen, 20, is currently doing national service. He will study law and economics at NUS.

Friday, 23 March 2007

The Right Place not to litter?

It seems like Mrs Ess is the only one updating the blog so I shall write an entry then.

Today during our Humanities trip, we went to various places in the Civil District like the Supreme Court, the Old Parliment House, etc. One thing I realised about these places is that they are 'litter-free', not a single piece of paper could even be found on the floor. So this brings me to a question: How is that this area is so clean while other parts of Singapore are not as clean?

After thinking about it, I finally knew the answer: 'the place'. It is simple, people never litters in the Civil District whether or not they are lawyers, ministers or even normal citizens like you and I. This is probably because this is a place of high security and thus, we know that this is not the place to litter. Now does that mean that we can litter elsewhere? I don't think so. People know that it is wrong to litter no matter where we are but the problem here is that there are some people out there who thinks that as long as they will not be caught, littering is alright, which is the wrong attitude.

Therefore, it is very important to change the people's attitude. Now one country that I can think of which is almost 'litter-free' is Japan. In Japan, if you walk along the streets, you will realise that there are not as many dustbins as there are along the streets in Singapore. However, Japan is also much cleaner, as people have the right attitude. Some Singaporeans mentality is: "I can litter as long as there is nobody around" while the mentality of Japanese is: "If I cannot find a dustbin, I go find one!"

This leads to the fact that Japan is so clean while in Singapore, you can even find litter next to dustbins, which is ridiculous. The only reasons that Singapore is clean during certain times are due to the heavy fines and the contribution of our cleaners. I fear one day that even fines will not stop people from littering, and therefore, we should put in our best efforts to stop littering.

Kenneth Lim (4J)

Friday, 16 March 2007

A journey of a thousand miles......

Often when we get discouraged when we do not see the fruit of our labour. When our effort to save the environment does not seems to make any great major impact, we must not give up. Sometime one small step from the YEGs is a giant step for the environment.

For example, it was observed that this pile of rubbish was left to rot for a couple of months. This picture was taken in February 2007. Notice the Chirstmas decoration at the bottom right corner?

The relevant authorities were informed of this when the YEGs was studying the littering issue. Action was taken immediately and the above was the result. While we can celebrate this small step, let take a look at another place.

This is Ang Mo Kio Street 21. Notice that it is clean and there are very little rubbish.

This is another view of the same road. Why is it so clean? This is because it was taken during the March school holidays when there were very few students walking along this road.

Can anyone guess what will happen when school reopens?

Here are the top ten reasons why this road is filled with rubbish during term time.

1. It is outside school and so the teachers will not catch me.
2. There are no rubbish bins along this road so it is not my fault.
3. Few teachers will walk here as they have cars, so I can litter as I wish.
4. CARE value only takes place in school. Once I am outside school, I DON"T CARE.
5. My friends do it so I do.
6. This is not my house. It is a public place.
7. I forgot. My maid is not here to pick up after me
8. Mr Han will not see me.
9. Mr. Prem is too busy in school to catch me outside of school.
10.If I litter in class what the difference does it make doing it here?

What a load of RUBBISH!!!!!!

Watch out. There will be YEGs looking out for litterbugs along this road.

Would it not be fun to be caught in the act and have your picture posted on this blog?

You have been warned.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Road Shows at Serangoon Garden

The YEGs of Mayflower Secondary School, together with the NEA and the Serangoon Garden CCC, organised a road show about littering at Serangoon Garden Village on 10th March 2007.

Ms Farida, our teacher conducted a reflection session before we start our road show. She reminded us about the purpose of doing this road show and also how to approach the residents to share their views about littering in Serangoon Garden.

Here, one of our YEGs is doing a final touch up on the photo exhibit. They have taken photos showing the littering problem in Serangoon Garden. The NEA contributed the exhibition panels.

Our roadshow was well received by both the young and the old.

The NEA sent two officers to guide the YEGs and they provided some collaterals which were given to residents.