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Don't give cars as prizes, and other green suggestions

The Straits Times | Feng Zengkun | Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mr Jose Raymond, executive director of the Singapore Environment Council (SEC).

SINGAPORE - Encouraging people to take public transport has been one of the Government's goals to help save the environment here.

But the Health Promotion Board recently included a free car as part of its suite of prizes for a weight loss campaign.

This is an example of how agencies need to be more consistent in their signals to the public, said a participant at a recent dialogue on the environment.

The non-government Singapore Environment Council (SEC) had organised 19 such sessions over three months to canvass people's views on the country's green efforts.

The 440 participants in total included people from industry, the public sector, schools, the community and non-governmental organisations.

The SEC yesterday shared the key suggestions, which included teaching children from a young age to value the environment, building greener homes, and introducing stronger legislation to change people's behaviours.

The findings will be presented to Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan at an event today to thank the participants and share the results with them.

The views will also be taken on board for the revision of the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint by year end. Unveiled in 2009, the blueprint serves as a guide for the country's sustainable development strategies until 2030.

SEC chief executive Jose Raymond said it will work with the Environment and Water Resources Ministry to translate the sessions' findings into tangible steps that people, firms and institutions can take to protect the environment.

It will draw up sector-specific lists for different groups such as industry and community groups, and expects to distribute these to the sectors by July.

"The challenges we face now and in the near future will require a many-hands-on-deck approach," said Mr Raymond.

"This is one of the reasons why it is crucial for all sectors to work together to achieve a common objective of a sustainable, clean, green and safe city of the future."

Mr Eugene Tay, 36, director of environmental consulting firm Green Future Solutions, told The Straits Times that people should have the chance to see how recyclable waste is sorted once it has been collected.

"Get an environmental or community group to lead a structured programme so people can see how difficult the recyclables are to sort once they have been collected. They will then have a greater appreciation of what recycling involves," he said.

Yap She Leng, 16, a Secondary 4 student at Queensway Secondary School who attended one of the SEC sessions, said the elderly in Singapore may not be familiar with the uses of the recycling bins. "Perhaps the Government can work with community groups here to host events at community centres to show them how to use the bins," she said.


This article was first published on May 27, 2014.
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