“I really appreciate Resorts World’s “I hope there will be more vets in
August 2009 August 2009
decision to not put a whale shark YOUR the future so that more injured
SAY exhibit at Sentosa.” – Cheryl Chin,
Pri 6, Fuchun Primary
SAY animals can be taken care of.” –
Jin Jin, Pri 4, Teck Ghee Primary
P L A N T I N G F O R T H E F U T U R E
Singaporean group gets down to earth
On the next four pages, we look SUSTAINING THE PLANET
at a challenge that is really huge:
how to save the planet. It’s a Flashback to last year’s world food
big job, but it can be done in crisis: food prices around the world
small steps by ordinary people, skyrocketed due to a combination
old and young. We start with an of factors such as poor harvests
inspiring example right here in and an increased demand for food.
Singapore... Some rice-producing countries even
cut or stopped selling rice to other
countries so that their own citizens
ust across the road from a would have enough.
block of flats in Khatib lies It reminded us that we cannot
a farm. It is the effort of a survive without resources such as
group of passionate people food, water and energy. Our planet
who call themselves Ground- provides these resources, but we
Up Initiative (GUI). They are creating need to use them in a sustainable
a beautiful yet practical garden out of way.
a 20-metre by 5-metre concrete space. That’s why governments are
“The vision of GUI is to connect focusing more on “sustainable
people and to connect them to earth,” development”. The Singapore
says 46-year-old Tay Lai Hock, the GUI MEMBERS making planter beds . They use recycled bottles to save government is no exception. In
founder of GUI. resources . Growing food brings them closer to the enviroment . May, it announced a “Sustainable
Singapore” plan for the next 10 to 20
The sustainable way years.
According to the government’s
GUI’s project in Khatib is called report, sustainable development for
Sustainable Urban Farming Singapore means growing in a way
(SURF). It looks like a big word, but that is:
“sustainable” living simply means • Efficient – we develop with less
leading a lifestyle that is in harmony resources and waste;
with the earth. Through SURF, the • Clean – we develop without
group hopes to inspire Singapore’s polluting our environment;
city dwellers to grow some of their • Green – we develop while
own food. preserving greenery, waterways and
“We want to have a chance to our natural heritage.
heal the land through connecting to “This way, we ensure
earth, because the earth is now so that Singapore can enjoy both
polluted and damaged,” he adds. “In economic growth and a good living
healing the land, people eventually environment for ourselves, and for
find that they heal themselves, too.” future generations,” the report says.
According to the National The Sustainable Singapore
Environment Agency, the amount report adds that it’s not just the
of rubbish thrown away by government’s job to make it happen.
Singaporeans last year was enough to Businesses have a role to play. And,
fill 310 soccer fields up to a height of so do volunteer groups. That’s where
1.7 metres! The number of litterbugs Getting their hands dirty try to do everything themselves. groups such as Ground-Up Initiative
caught grew from 4,000 in 2005 to a i down to earth: This has a
Several of them are office workers BACK TO BASICS: You use is the word we should use come in.
whopping 33,000 in 2008. In Singapore, people are fortunate double meaning. The literal
and professionals. But, out in their your senses all the time, when because simple as it may be, the Mr Tay of GUI agrees that
These are big numbers for a that most of their basic needs are meaning is to be close to the soil.
garden, they get their hands dirty you study, hang out with your impact is much more.” ordinary people must do their part.
small country like Singapore, and taken care of. With the flick of a Usually, ‘down to earth’ is used as
and work up a sweat. They learn friends, watch television or play Just ask eight-year-old It starts with good habits. “If you
the numbers reflect a nonchalant i switch, the lights come on. Turn a metaphor, meaning practical and
how to cut bricks, make cement computer games. However, Nikki Chin , who visits the brush your teeth and don’t let the
attitude towards the environment the tap and the water flows. Put realistic. Someone who is ‘down to
and turn recycled vehicle tyres into when was the last time you farm regularly with her family. tap water run indiscriminately,
that GUI wants to change. the garbage in the chute and it just earth’ is not full of empty talk and
planter beds. They’ll also make water used your senses to appreciate At the farm, Nikki has learnt that’s a good habit. If you leave the
Mr Tay thinks people won’t care disappears. wild dreams.
filtration and solar power devices. the nature around you? People many things, including making room and switch off the lights, that’s
about their environment if they are We don’t even need to think Another member, 22-year-old who live in cities rarely do that. soap out of cooking oil, growing also a good habit,” he says.
not closely connected to it. “We’re so about how these things happen. i nonchalant: Say ‘non-shal-
Tan Chee Yong, adds, “Certain things That’s why Gardenasia her very own terrarium i and You’ve probably heard of the 3
distanced from the land that supports Electricity has to be generated, water ahnt’. Adjective. Not concerned,
we won’t know until we get hands- Kids has been set up. The farm fishing using just a bamboo rod, R’s of reuse, reduce and recycle. Mr
our daily life,” he notes. “We import must be purified, rubbish has to be can’t be bothered. The word can
on and dirty. Then, we can fully in Kranji wants to bring you hook and a worm. Tay proposes three more R’s:
more than 90 per cent of our food – taken away. But, when we don’t have also be used in a positive way, to
appreciate the environment.” closer to nature. It is a place “I feel happy because I can • Rethink our role on earth and
do Singaporeans know where our to do all this ourselves, we take it mean calm and cool.
Their new skills will come in where you can stop to smell the learn all these things,” she says. how we want to run the economy;
food comes from? Because we do not for granted. “When the environment handy when they travel overseas to flowers, hear the rustle of leaves fundamentals of science or nature, “The first time I touched a fish, • Refuse excessive consumption;
know, we therefore don’t treasure around you belongs to someone else’s i terrarium: Say ‘tuh-rair-i-
help other communities, which is and touch the soil that gives plants it doesn’t mean that it is boring or it was very slippery and I felt a little • Repair before we recycle
everything that we have, unlike a job, do you think you will take care of uhm’. Noun. A small enclosure or
another aim of the group. life. uncool,” says Kenny Eng, director scared. Now I like to catch a lot of things.
lot of places that I’ve been to with it?” Mr Tay says. container for keeping plants or
“When you go back to the basic of the farm. “Sometimes simplicity fish at the farm!”
agriculture sectors.” This is why GUI members – Story and pictures by ADELINE ONG
small animals such as turtles. – By ADELINE ONG