Singapore-based financial blog that aims to educate people on personal finance, investments, retirement and their Central Provident Fund (CPF) matters.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Is Greta Thunberg Overrated?

I would like to share a perspective after seeing people bashing one environmentalist over another, pitting one against another as if the environmentalists are in some sort of competition against each other.
Except they are not, they are fighting for the same cause: to get people to start acting responsibly for the world.

A tap is running, the sink is overflowed and water is spilling onto the floor.
You got 2 children both of which cannot reach for the tap to stop the water from flowing out.
Your older son took a mop and start mopping the floor dry while the water continues to overflow.
Your younger daughter went to call you up from your bed to come and close the tap.

Do you find your son more useful than your daughter?
Or do you find both of them are actually trying to get something done and you as the parent should f**king wake up your idea and turn off the bloody tap?
Source: Reddit

Pitting of Environmentalists
So instead of pitting one against another, maybe we should wake up our idea, and start doing something for the environment.
Don't pit one environmentalist against the other as your justification to not do anything about the environment.
We use 1.76 billion plastic items in 2018.
473 million of them are disposable plastic items like takeaway containers and cutleries, equivalent to 432,000 people throwing away a food container, a spoon, and a fork, every day!
Maybe, just maybe, if we all just brought a fork and spoon to work and not use the disposable plastic fork and spoon for our lunch, we reduce 2 plastic per person per day, we can make the planet better for our future generations.

Source: The Kritic

"Our plastic are burnt in our incinerators, so there are no turtles being poked by our plastic."
That seems to be the only thing people in Singapore can say.
"I throw my plastic trash into the trash bin/recycling bin, I am therefore a responsible plastic user and a recycler."
Except, things don't work that way.
Less than 20% of our plastics are recycled - most of them are shipped to Third World countries and causing health problem for their people.
Even if we recycle our plastic, these plastic do not bio-decompose; instead, they break down into smaller pieces call 'micro-plastic', and it has been found that we eat about 1 credit card size worth of micro-plastic every week.
Plastic is not a climate problem, it is a waste problem.
Yes, we have the technology to burn it and capture most of the harmful pollutants it releases
We are still releasing a lot of harmful pollutants that we can't capture into the environment, and that will only grow as we continue to use more plastic in our daily lives.
At the rate that we are going, we are going to fill Semakau landfill by 2035, and then what do we do with our trash?
Will we be able to keep finding wasteland to pile up our trash in land-constrained Singapore?

Recommended Read: The HDB Pricing Dilemma

"I just cannot live without plastic, I need plastic bags for my trash, straws to drink my BBT..."
I have spoken to many people about going green.
I've tried going green - I tried to use less plastic, use reusable food containers for takeout, use bottles/tumbler for takeaway drinks, take more public transport, etc.
Nonetheless, I still use plastic - the candies I eat are wrapped in a wrapper, the ice cream I eat still comes in a plastic container, the food delivery I ordered came in plastic bags, and I still fly around and travel.

People seem to think that if someone is going green,
they must do the following:
1. Use ZERO plastic (no disposables, no plastic bags, etc)
2. Don't fly or travel
3. Don't eat meat
4. Generate minimum waste
You are either environmentally-friendly or not environmentally-friendly, you can't be in between.

Not going to deny, there are those who do live their lives that way, but most environmentalists don't.
Think of it as a spectrum.
On one end, it's the person that uses only disposable items, drives diesel cars, meat-only, and generates tonnes of wastage - 10 tissues to clean 1 mouth. Let's say this is 0 marks.
On the other end, it's the person that uses zero plastic, flies when necessary, vegan, generates waste that fits inside a jar. Let's say this is 100 marks (full marks).
Most of us are in between, we use plastic, eat meat, travels, and generates a decent amount of waste, but we also use cups and plates (at home), take public transport, and turn off lights when not in use.
The goal here is to be as close as we can to the full marks, or a nice 70 marks would work too.
Most of us probably fail - I don't have a matrix for this but if you do food takeout daily (food or drinks, especially coffee and lunch), you probably failed.
Think about it, 1 plastic container, 1 plastic bag, 1 plastic spoon and fork, 1 plastic cup (paper cups are actually just as bad as plastic - surprised?), all used and thrown after about 1 hour of use.
If you go to work 200/365 days, you generated 200 sets of the above combination. That's a lot.

But, we can always improve to a pass.
1. Bring your own food container to put takeaway food (can save $0.20 container money).
2. Bring your own bottle to put takeaway drinks.
3. Turn your air-con to fan mode after a couple of hours
4. Sleep early (if you don't use lights at night, you don't create emissions 😜)

Recommended Read: CPF LIFE in the Year 2020

"Using non-disposable items also waste water"
Yup, I know, I heard people say "but if I wash it, it wastes water. Isn't it just as bad?"
Well, at home you use non-disposable cups, plates, and cutleries, right?
I don't see you saying you are wasting water using these non-disposable options.
That aside, we have a NEWater plant, we have developed ways to clean water so that they can be reused.
I haven't heard we have developed anything to biodegrade plastic harmlessly or reuse disposable plastics.

We have gotten used to our lives that we cannot revert back already.
It is almost impossible now to work without air-conditioning or to expect us to not travel as the world gets more interconnected.
But what we can do, is to use renewable and sustainable alternatives.
Use renewable energy instead of coal, generate less waste, push for greener materials in buildings, push for more energy-efficient transportation, etc.

WSG can provide you with a career coach that is able to help you with that. 
And if you are looking for a free career coach, visit Workforce Singapore via the link below.
They can link you up with the career coach and you 
might be able to find new opportunities on their jobs portal.

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