Going hand-in-hand with an eco-conscious NDP

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Article by: Cheryl Yeoh

Visuals by: Lau Hiu Naam

Singapore has always been both an exemplary leader as well as a follower of many things which make us versatile and resilient to changes. Our nation’s annually celebrated National Day Parade (NDP) includes exciting performances and the distribution of NDP packs to the citizens. These NDP packs often come in a plastic tote bag filled with handy items such as bottled water, a musical instrument, hand-held fan, ponchos, etc. In 2019, approximately 250,000 NDP packs were distributed and many of the items ended up in the bin after the event. Thus, it had generated a lot of waste. As a result, this year’s NDP organisers had taken extra consideration towards making the parade as environmentally sustainable as possible by joining hands with green groups.

Since December 2020, the NDP Executive Committee has consulted and discussed with 15 green groups regarding the type of materials to be used to produce this year’s NDP packs. The focal idea is to produce items that are of durable quality and environmentally friendly. NTU Earthlink President and third-year materials science and engineering student, Tan Shi Zhou, concurs with this and has contributed to the choice of material used. “Tyvek is a synthetic polymer that is highly recyclable and commonly recycled alongside plastic bottles. It also boasts a high strength-to-density ratio, which means that the material is strong, highly durable and resistant to solvents, wear & tear, while at the same time, lightweight,” remarked Shi Zhou. These factors thus position DuPont Tyvek as a suitable choice for the material used for the NDP pack as it provides a good balance of strength, durability, and resistivity to the environment. All of which are essential for the bag to be long-lasting, the lightweight and opaqueness of the bag also ensures that the bag is easy to carry around without much hassle. When asked if there is something he hopes to change in the process of preparing for NDP next year, he enthusiastically quipped, “I hope to be able to work with the NDP EXCO to procure an even more environmentally sustainable and natural material beyond the synthetic polymer that we used this year. I hope that sustainability will continue becoming the main focus in the upcoming editions of the NDP!”

“I do hope that we can remain resilient amidst the climate issues and move towards a truly sustainable Singapore.”

-Tan Shi Zhou

As Singapore continues to move towards a zero-waste nation, matters on minimising food wastage is another goal to work towards. NTU Earthlink Vice-President and third-year environmental science undergraduate, Shawn Ang, shares this sentiment fervently. He chimed in, “To reduce food waste, the NDP Exco also ensured that food indents/catering was just right to the number of participants present, to avoid any unnecessary catering and food wastage. In the one or two unavoidable scenarios where excess food was catered, they partnered with SG Food Rescue to offload the edible food to prevent any wastage.” Feeling zealous, Shawn realises more needs to be done with this eco-consciousness by transiting to the power of narration where he believes “stories and messages are powerful agents of change”.

“The only way to do that is to first outreach and educate Singaporeans about what these issues are, because they can’t care about or take action on something they don’t know about in the first place.”

Shawn Ang

All in all, Singapore is proficient in many areas, but climate change requires a collective effort globally. It is a conundrum that needs extra care and consideration and a common understanding in the pursuit of a sustainable future. As echoed by both Shi Zhou and Shawn, “The only way to do that is to first outreach and educate citizens about what these issues are, because they can’t care about or take action on something they don’t know about in the first place.” Hence, a wake-up call is needed, particularly in the mainstream education curricula where green habits are to be inculcated at a young age both in our own households and at the school level.

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