WHEN it comes to green issues, legislation can only go so far. Attitudes too are just as, if not more crucial.
Speaking at a public forum yesterday, Environment Challenge Organisation (Singapore) founder and president Wilson Ang recognised that while green policies here can be enhanced, individuals must take ownership for the environment.
Addressing a comment about the effectiveness of legislation, Mr Ang said: “Legislation is a short term solution to problems and is very top-down.”
While regulations can have an impact, any changes in political agenda, for instance, can cause momentum to flounder, he said.
“We have a National Recycling Programme, where there is one recycling bin every few blocks. Yes, it can be improved, but our attitudes are more important. We cannot rely on the Government for everything,” he said.
Similarly, “experts” are not the only ones who can make a difference in the environmental stakes.
Another speaker at the forum organised by the Workers’ Party Youth Wing said the “misconception” is that one has to be qualified or an activist to speak on the environment.
But, by speaking in accessible terms, one can bring the message across, said Mr Nathaniel Koh, 24. For example, to cut down on the use of plastic straws, he told his parents how drinks taste better without using them because the flavours come into contact with more of the taste buds.
“(One) does not need to know the intricacies of a problem (to make a difference),” said the Singapore Management University student. What it takes, he said, is to speak to people in their own terms and language.
Mr Ang told about 20 people at the forum: “It’s not about being a ‘greenie’ but to think of yourself as a global citizen – and part of an environment that supports you.” Ultimately, he said, “think of it not just as saving the environment, but saving yourself.”
Yesterday’s “YouthQuake” was the third in a series of four public forums. The final instalment will be held next month.