Ecoventure 2017

Ecoventure is Earthlink’s very own annual youth overseas community involvement program. First initiated in 2004, Ecoventure started as an eco-trip to locations where students are able to experience the environment in a novel way. At that time, Ecoventure intended to expose participants to prevalent environmental issues and to allow them to appreciate the importance of conserving the environment through learning and sharing. Over the years, Ecoventure took a slight change to incorporate other elements into the trip, which included Community Service, and Information and Cultural Exchange.

As a proud recipient of the Nanyang Award for Humanitarian Work for its effort in 2016, the Ecoventure team continued its environmental works in 2017. The team, consisting of 24 students, travelled to Tra Vinh, Vietnam to install water filtration system at a school in the rural region. Other than installing the filtration system that would allow the children to have clean water to drink, the Ecoventure team also provided basic English lessons to the children.

 

Arrived and Eager to help

The group was divided into two main team: education and construction. The education team had initially prepared many topics to teach the children. However, upon interacting with them on the first day, the team knew that their English proficiency level was low. The lessons were then changed to teaching them basic greetings, counting, occupations, numbers etc. in English.

Despite the language barrier, the great enthusiasm of the children had encouraged the education team to come up with a better lesson plan to engage them further. Every night, the education team would gather to review on the difficulties the students were facing such as the speed on which the teachers were speaking and the suitability of the teaching materials. Lessons were taught through games, dance and songs to make it easier for the children to understand.

The construction team had different challenges from the education team. A skillful construction artisan led the construction team for the installation of the filtration system. Most of the time, the artisan would instruct through actions on what should be done as he did not speak a word of English. Generally, the team would clearly understand what he wanted us to do. The team had to clear away the grass, hack the wall and make cement plaster for the basin. The team also hand painted the wall around the basin. The other challenges during construction was the fickle weather where it changed from hot and dry to heavy rain within hours.

 

Muddy Times!

During the weekend when the school was closed, the team helped the community in other ways. We went to visit six different households that require assistance from the community. All the visited households are poor and cannot afford education for their children. The interaction between the families and the team is enriching and enlightening as it shows how fortunate we are to have so many things that they do not have. We also went to visit a nearby library where everyone helped in weeding and maintaining the library garden.

The team also went to experience catching Snakehead fish in a muddy pool with their bare hands. The frustration we had trying to grab the slippery and sneaky Snakeheads is unforgettable. Lots of screams, shrieks and laughter were heard throughout the fishing event. Twelve fishes were caught in total, it was an incredible feat. The participants brought the fishes back and had a relaxing barbeque together.

 

 

Dance of Diversity in Culture Night

Other activities included a library event and the culture night. The library event was akin to games day where children would gather at the community library and played games. There were six game stations manned by the team. The children went back home happily with their game prizes.

For the cultural night, we came up with four songs (in Malay, Indian, Mandarin and English) and dances to showcase the multi-racial culture of Singapore. The Vietnamese locals performed their own song and dance too! Everyone danced and enjoyed the night together with laughter and joy around the campfire and under the starry night sky, celebrating our unity in diversity.

Another effort we did to help the community was planting a garden in the school. Everyone came together to clear all the rubbish that was littered in their school compound. After the compound was cleared of rubbish and litters, construction team proceeded to plant flowers. Education team then taught the children about environmental cleanliness and proper ways to use their newly installed water system.

 

Afterthought

In the 14 days spent together, the team had completed the installation of filtration system, painted a wall mural, built a garden and provided useful lessons to the children. The team also built a closer bond and friendship among themselves and with the locals. Ecoventure’s aim is not only to help the less fortunate, but also to instill an empathetic feeling towards people who were impoverished and lacked many basic facilities to the participants. The household visits were certainly impactful to students like us. By understanding the living conditions and their difficult situations each of them had, we hope to provide more OCIP ideas in the future to help the needy and continue the spirit of helping people.

 

Earthlink Jalan-Jalan 2017

Summer break is here! After fighting through the exam period, it is finally time to sit back, relax, and enjoy a nature walk with like-minded companions.

Last Saturday, Earthlinkers went for a little nature escape to Chestnut Nature Park, the newest and largest nature park currently in Singapore! Apart from the hiking trails, there are also biking trails for mountain bikers! As immersive as the park is with all its biodiversity, tall HDB buildings can still be seen in the distance in some areas. We are reminded that the park is only an enclosed space in the middle a bustling urban area. The scarcity of areas in which we can enjoy nature to our hearts’ content becomes more of a reason for us to treat them right. Let us preserve them for the future generation!

 

Earth Hour 2017

Bright and early on the March 25, many gathered at the Jurong Spring Community Club for the Earth Hour Symposium as well as the night carnival (supported by National Youth Council), which followed after. From 9:45am to 3pm, there were talks by various speakers, all passionate individuals who believe in playing their part to help the environment and living sustainably.

Our first speaker was Ms. Lastrina, who shared with us her enriching experience and takeaways from attending the UN Climate Change Conference. Inspiring individuals, youths in particular to contribute in greening Singapore one step at a time. Following which, Ms. Karen Lee, from Interface Singapore Pte. Ltd., a social enterprise that embodies sustainability in business opened our eyes to the possibility of profit driven companies coexisting with nature. Next, we had Mr. Emmanuel Tay from Sembcorp Tay Paper Recycling Pte. Ltd. who implored youths to use technology to aid waste and recycling efforts.

In between the talks, there was a scrumptious halal-vegetarian lunch, where participants of the event were encouraged to adapt #ditchdadisposables. There were no disposable cutlery or plates and instead, participants used reusable containers to get their food.

The talk continued with more speakers, including Mr. Tiew Chew Meng PBM from South West CDC, Ms. Esther An from City Developments Ltd., Dr Shawn Lum (President of Nature Society Singapore) and the Guest of Honor, Mr Desmond Lee (Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development). Various perspectives were given throughout this session on how everyone can do their part in preserving the world’s sustainability, as explained by Mr. Tiew from the community organizations and groups’ side as well as Ms. An from the corporates’ point of view. Questions from the audience, also spurred discussion among the speakers. At the end of the session, Mr Lee thanked everyone who attended the symposium and proceeded to visit the event booths.

From 1pm onwards, there were other exhibitions and workshops for interested participants to join, such as natural soap making, plant propagation and upcycle workshop. At the event area, the public could freely enjoy terrarium making and plank art workshop at zero cost! All the workshops were fun and interesting, and each had a meaningful message behind it. The plank art workshop for example, invited the participants to paint on a plank, drawings that were related to the Earth. Taking the time to paint allowed the participants to really think about what they are painting and how they can make Earth a better place to live. Children and elderlies alike paint their hearts out; we ran out of blank planks before the sky even got dark!

Other than the workshops, there were also booths from various organizations such as World Wildlife Fund Singapore (WWF), National Environmental Agency (NEA) and the National Parks Board (Nparks). These booths are part of the night carnival which began at 3pm. Participants could walk around the various booths, learning more about what the organizations do for the environment as well as how to live their lives more sustainably and at the same time enjoy some simple games to earn stamps in exchange for a goodie bag.

During the night event, various performances are presented by student groups from NTU. All the youthful dances lit up the event and set up just the right atmosphere for the highlight of the event, the Lights Out!

At 8:30pm, the lights in the stage area and around it were all switched off as Earth Hour approached. Serving as the light in the dark, Project Eartha made its debut in the middle of the audience area. Project Eartha is a globe figure assembled by the united hearts and minds of the Earthlink Earth Hour team and Jurong Spring CC YEC members by using disposable bottles and is lit up using dynamo energy generated from a bicycle! Project Eartha’s objective is none other than to serve as a proof that sincere collective efforts could conjure a little spark in the midst of darkness and make a difference.
With only the little light from the stage floor, we enjoyed more dances and singing performances! The most amazing moment of the night is when the audience (including the distinguished guests) all stood up, put their hands in the air, and sang along two songs from the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, Heal the World and We Are the World. Our voices echoed throughout the area to affirm our determination to make the world a better place together!

After half an hour (instead of a full hour for safety purposes), the lights were turned back on. The final section of the event which the audience has been waiting for eagerly, the lucky draw, was then started! The top 3 winners were decided by a game of trivia facts about Earth Hour, like when Earth Hour was first celebrated in Singapore (2009).

With that, Earth Hour 2017 ends. By organizing this event, Earthlink NTU hopes to instill the fire of environmentalism within the hearts of all participants. A change, as small as it may be, will grow up to be a big wave which will bring about more people joining the cause. If we don’t start treating the world better, there may not be any chance left in the future.

“Heal the world, make it a better place. For you, and for me, and the entire human race.”

Nature Water Wonder Trail

In conjunction with Singapore World Water Day and in support of Public Utilities Board (PUB), Earthlink NTU organized a Nature Water Wonder Trail on Saturday, March 11th 2017. Singapore World Water Day, which has now reached its 10th year anniversary, aims to continue to increase the society’s awareness to conserve water resources.

Despite the early morning start, a number of students and members of public gathered at MacRitchie Reservoir Park at 8.30 AM to join us for this event. After allocated into groups, the event started with trail hiking along several trails at the park such as Petai Trail and MacRitchie Nature Trail. During the trail hiking, we took the opportunity to observe and appreciate the biodiversity found in the park such as the long-tailed macaque and the rattan plant.

While we were appreciating the biodiversity found along our trek, our Nature Guides provided valuable insights on the biodiversity in Singapore and the importance of guarding them for the future generations. The need to guard the biodiversity is important especially since Singapore, despite its relatively small land territory compared to other countries, still boasts a diverse array of plants and animals such as the ones found in the park, thanks to the continuous commitments from amazing individuals to conserve its nature reserves.

After the trail hiking, the event continued with water quality testing demonstrated by our nature guides with water testing kit from PUB to understand the water quality in the reservoir. The participants were also given a chance to have a hands-on experience on checking the water’s acidity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen concentration. The testing results showed that the quality of water in the reservoir is pretty good since it fulfills all the criteria for a clean reservoir water, proving that PUB is successful in its ABC (Active, Beautiful, and Clean Water) initiative. The nature guides also explained about the processes needed to make PUB’s tap water drinkable, such as testing the water under rigorous standards.

Concluding the event, participants were provided with tips to save water and ensure ample water availability in Singapore through comparing their household water usage with the national consumption average data provided by PUB. One of the simple tricks suggested to reduce water consumption is to simply shower for a shorter time. Reducing your shower time by only 1 minute can save you up to 2.5 gallons (more than 9 liters) of water! [1] Can you imagine how many water we can save every day if everyone applies this tip to their daily lives? It is certainly not a little amount!

With this event, we hope to equip the participants with the awareness and mindset to value every drop of water. Even with all the extensive research and development done by the government to secure the country’s daily demand of clean water, it would pale in comparison with the ideal situation where every single one of us appreciates the importance of water-saving. Readers, it is time to treat water like the important resource as it has always been. Change starts with us!

Sources:
[1] Arrington, D. (2014, February 13). Showers vs. baths: Which use less water?. Retrieved from http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article2591077.html

Earth Hour Outreach

Make some noise for Earth Hour 2017! Earth Hour is a yearly initiative, celebrated across 172 other countries, to allocate 60 minutes to turn off all lights and electrical appliances! This year, Earthlink NTU has organized two Saturdays of fun and games to spread the awareness of Earth Hour 2017, and to get more people to join us for 60 minutes of saving the planet. The first event of Earth Hour 2017 was a training workshop that happened on March 18th, with Earthlinkers ready to lead their respective groups of volunteers to learning more about the environment and Earth Hour!

The event kicked off on a high note with the ice-breaking game of Paper Towns, where every group was supposed to replicate green buildings in Singapore, armed only with newspapers and scotch tape. At the end of the session, we were all amazed at the replicas of Supertree Grove, and The Hive that some of the teams have built! After getting volunteers all warmed up, the organizers of the event took the floor with a presentation to share some facts about Earth Hour and the environment. Did you know that more than 100 countries are participating in Earth Hour now? Even though many more are starting to catch on, there is always more to do, and that is why Earthlinkers are trying to spread the word about Earth Hour with the outreach.

During the workshop, a group of students from Wee Kim Wee School was also invited to share their final year project with the participants. Their project, “Make the Cut”, is focused around sustainable fashion, and they organize and coordinate events to dispel some myths about fashion. They have held restyling roadshows, which challenges participants to mix and match a limited number of clothes to make 7 different outfits. They also encourage upcycling of clothes, and one solution that they had provided was to repurpose old clothes into purses and pouches, instead of discarding them. This led the event to another hands-on activity for the volunteers!

Volunteers were provided with old clothes, zippers and fabric glue, and with instructions and kind assistance from the founders of “Make the Cut,” everyone was measuring and cutting, and eventually made their purses and pouches within the allotted time! Kudos to the “Make the Cut” team (https://www.facebook.com/makethecut.sg/)!

After the good fun, and armed with more knowledge about what the volunteers are volunteering for, the event shifted to Jurong Spring Community Club to begin the actual outreach program. Volunteers were briefed about the Earth Hour event to be held at Jurong Spring CC, and all the talk about workshops like natural soap making, terrarium building, plant propagating, etc. and also the recycling drive that got everyone excited! Volunteers then went door-to-door for the outreach program to raise awareness about Earth Hour, and the event happening on 25th March, which is held in conjunction with Jurong Spring CC.

Outreach events are never 100 percent foolproof, as some of the volunteers of the outreach experienced. There were residents who were interested and wanted to know more, but there were also others who are not as receptive. However, the outreach program was a success overall, and was even blessed with cool weather. It started raining cats and dogs after the event officially ended for the day, so we got lucky there!

Earthlink NTU’s main event for Earth Hour 2017 is happening 25th March 2017, and you may visit our Facebook page for more information! Remember, it only takes 60 minutes to make the earth a better place, are you game to join us for Earth Hour 2017?

Plant-Based Diet Talk

On March 27, Earthlinkers had an enriching and mind-opening talk, Plant-Based Diet Talk: Let Us Be Heroes, presented by Ms. Rebecca Cappelli. Ms. Cappelli informed us about the benefits of a plant-based diet and the myths we were “programmed” to believe through advertisements. We were surprised about the facts presented. Are you aware that processed meat has been classified as a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by WHO in 2015? Or that even with all the greenhouse gas emitted by the transportation industry, cattle industry still produces more? These astonishing data made us to really think about the destruction we are bringing upon ourselves and the world.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way; we can be better. Of course, not everyone can change at a snap. As Ms. Cappelli said, “You’re young, you’re the game changer. Let us take a stand now, you don’t need to wait until you graduate. Let us be heroes!” Change can start by simply joining the Green Monday initiative (being a vegetarian every Monday). Together, let Plus make a change we want in the world, one step at a time.

Green Monday Talk

Monday blues no more, because Green Monday is in! As an initiative that started from Hong Kong, Green Monday aims to make sustainable living actionable and easy. The founder of the movement believes that apart from climate change, global food insecurity is also a vital area to focus on in order to live sustainably. Therefore, this movement seeks to encourage individuals to pledge to go green on Mondays. What does that even mean?

The first day of the week is representative to new beginnings, and starting a week right provides the momentum to do and feel good throughout the week. Green Monday makes it effortless for individuals to make a difference simply by going meatless for a day. But, why would going meatless help tackle climate change?

Did you know that going meatless for a day saves you the amount of water equivalent to showering 20 times? There are statistics that shows that it takes 650 liters of water to process 500 grams of wheat, while it takes 7000 liters of water to process the same amount of beef. This is the impact that one person can make. If one person can make this much difference by going meatless for a day, imagine the impact of hundreds, even thousands of people making the Green Monday pledges!

NTU is the first University in Singapore to adopt Green Monday, while Earthlink organises various events to further promote the cause, and to get more people on board to go green on Mondays. Every individual can make an impact, and play a role in tackling climate change and global food insecurities, one day at a time. Have you pledged to go green on Green Mondays?

Greenfest 2017

On 20th and 21st of March, Earthlink NTU’s flagship event, Greenfest 2017: RevAmpS (sponsored by City Developments Limited, Hewlett-Packard, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and PacificLight), was held. This massive event was organized by our Events Executive Internal portfolio in support of Sustainable Singapore Blueprint. The environmental event was filled with fun and excitement! The event was held on Canopy K with amazing performances such as NTU Chinese Drums and NTU Hall 13 Band!

Not only fun, after visiting several booths, you’ll get a cute cactus, a goodie bag, and a lucky draw ticket! You can win many prizes such as a HP printer, an Under Armour Backpack, and even a HP Laptop! And of course, to align with Greenfest 2017 theme, the booths also provide useful information for all of us to revive our environment, amplify our environmental efforts, and sustaining the environment.

The booths are categorized into three categories:
1. Revive booths, which include booths from the Vegetarian Society, Earth Society, Singapore Environment Council, Nature Society Singapore, People’s Movement to Stop Haze, Tetra Pak, and ERI@N! The main goal of the revive booths is to highlight the necessity to revive our damaged earth by understanding what causes the damage, and how can we change it. Furthermore, the ERI@N provided FREE ice cream that was accompanied by the launch of a wonderful app, PowerZee! PowerZee is an environmental app designed by ENGIE Lab Crigen to help us make positive changes to the environment. Find out more about PowerZee here (http://ecocampus.ntu.edu.sg/Pages/PowerZee.aspx)!

2. Amplify booths consisting of booths from Earthlink’s various portfolios; Events Executive (Overseas), Nature Guiding, Campaign Management, Recycling and Education. Even if we know how to sustain and revive our earth, all that knowledge is useless unless we amplify our environmental efforts to save the earth. The purpose of the amplify booths is to remind all of us of that fact to spread our knowledge to more people so that.

3. Sustain booths which consists of booths from Public Utilities Board, National Environment Agency, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Hewlett-Packard, and Earth Observatory Singapore. Industrial companies came together and reminded us that we need to sustain the efforts developed by other parties as well in order to make a positive impact to the environment.

During a speech delivered by our Guest of Honour, Dr. Amy Khor at the opening she mentioned, “Even a simple action would have a positive impact on the environment”. We do not have to wait for a call to action for us to start doing something. “If I change, the world changes”. Join us in making the earth a better place to live for everyone! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s ‘RevAmpS’ our habits and actions as we step towards a brighter and greener future!

Earthlink Appreciation Night

“Tonight, it’s all about you, our dear subcomms!”

We held Earthlink NTU’s Appreciation Night: “Moving towards a Quarter of a Century” on March 21st to show our gratitude for the hard work of our dear subcommittee members on Earthlink’s events and activities in this academic year. This event created an opportunity for the current members and alumni to gather to connect and catch up with each other. The 24th Management Committee president, Zhi Sian, and our previous presidents Ryan, Ruskin and Steven expressed their gratitude too. The highlight of the night was the gift exchange session! Each Earthlinker prepared a thoughtful and meaningful present for their fellow member. Just look at those smiles!

Once again, the 24th Management Committee of Earthlink would like to thank these dedicated individuals. Among these people are the ones that will continue the legacy. Let’s give a thumbs-up for these amazing people without whom, Earthlink will be like a tree without leaves!

Sustainable Earth Expo Booth

Sustainable Earth Expo is here at NTU again! Held on 17th of March this year, you find passionate Earthlinkers like the director of recycling portfolio, Charilyn, merrily talking about the different aspects of our environmental efforts at our booth. Amidst the smell of popcorn, and the sound of hyped up music, Earthlinker Zhe Hua had also donned the NTU mascot attire despite the heat and even took a great picture next to the electronic waste recycling bin to promote the cause! Interested visitors to the booths had definitely learnt a lot about Earthlink from some of our enthusiastic Earthlinkers, including our Ditch Da Disposables campaign, Save That Pen initiative, and many more! Want to know more? Explore our Facebook page, check out our website and feel free to leave a message!