Interviewee: Mrs Lim Yoke Tong
Position: Geography Teacher and Programme Head (Research Education)
Date of interview: Monday, 23 March 2009
Location: Online, via email
Q1: Is the recycling process really eco-friendly? (Skeptics claim that the energy used for recycling products outweighs the energy saved through recycling instead of harvesting more natural resources.)
A1: Not really. Recycling efficiency depends on how well sorted out are the items collected in the bins. This is a concern because not all are educated on the purpose of recycling and hence they may be dumping any kind of unwanted materials into recycling bins. Another problem is how people remove recyclable items, especially tin cans for their own benefit by selling them to metal melting companies. The launch of shopping bags has been a failure (in my opinion) because people are keeping their shopping bags at home or simply collecting them and not using them. There are still many people who rely on plastic bags given by shops. So energy is totally wasted in producing and transporting these cloth shopping bags.
It is eco-friendly too because when the recycling rate is high, it optimises the recycling process and hence stresses less on harvesting more natural resources. NEwater is a good example on how waste water can be given a new life and be consumed again.
Q2: What efforts has Raffles Institution made to reduce its carbon footprints in its daily operations so far?
A2: Teachers are given food containers to reduce the use of Styrofoam containers. Toilets and pantries have installed automated lights system that activate only when the rooms are being used.
Q3: Many people we surveyed so far acknowledge that climate change is affecting the earth, but feel that Singapore and their daily life is not affected. What do you think about this?
A3: I agree. Environmental consciousness is very low. People cannot be bothered because they normally assume that Singapore government will be prepared to handle the crisis. We really have not experienced great discomfort yet. Even during drier months, water still run from the taps. So, there is really no urgency on the people’s part. The mentality of “climate change will not affect me in my lifetime” and “I have other real concerns like my work or my family” persists
Q4: Do you think the general public’s awareness of climate change has increased or decreased as compared to many years ago? What has caused this shift in mindset?
A4: Awareness has increased. Through school’s education, media and products improvement eg, energy-saving air-conditioners or bulbs.
Q5: What is the best way for common people like us to combat climate change?
A5: Start with small ‘can-dos’ actions like saving energy, cutting down use of plastic bags and plastic / Styrofoam containers
Q6: Tell us about your personal experiences fighting climate change.
A6: I use food containers, shopping bags, buy energy-saving appliances. Pass message to family members and students.
Q7: Where do you think the “power” to reduce climate change lies with? Is it consumers, the government, or Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) who could possibly be the biggest influencing factor? What could they do?
A7: Power lies with consumers. When consumers have a change in their habits, this will influence their buying style. Coupled with government’s commitment in reviewing policies (such as green car ownership policies, carbon trading), success will be higher.
Q8: As a whole, what do you think of climate change and the road ahead?
A8: Climate change is real. We should really prepare ourselves for a rougher weather pattern ahead that can affect our food production severely. And seek to really be ‘green-minded’ at most times.