Putting the "eco" into "economic powerhouse of the South-East Asian region"

Singapore doesn’t feel like a place whose inhabitants spend much time thinking about the impact of their activities on the environment: there’s an emphasis in the media and advertisements on straightforward, no-nonsense consumerism, with none of the morally ambiguous efforts to persuade people to spend lots of money on green products seen over here. In the UK, I’d expect an advert for a loan or mortgage to feature someone looking towards the horizon with a beatific air of fulfillment: in Singapore, the DBS ads feature a man in the back of a limo with champagne and two models, grinning manically at you, someone who doesn’t have either and is standing at a cashpoint. Straightforward.

And yet there seems to be a widespread awareness that Singapore is a place that can’t afford to be profligate. Space is short. Resources are limited. Ministers are photographed drinking recycled water to persuade people that it poses no risk (Singapore wants to become less dependent on Malaysia for its water supply). So is Singapore going to be somewhere I can behave with some kind of environmental responsibility, tapping into traditions of Confucian husbandry, or is it going to be some kind of karmic descent into branded selfishness?

So far, of course, I’ve got no idea. I’ve found two carbon offsetting sites, Climate Care and Carbon Neutral, who can help you support projects that will offset the emissions from your flight (and calculate the amount of CO2 your flight chucked out – my flight to Singapore and back from Christmas will emit 2.4 tonnes according to Carbon Neutral and 3.24 tonnes according to Climate Care, costing about £25 to offset), so at least my journey there is better than it was.

Once I’m there, I can recycle (helping the government acheive their Green Plan), read about living well in Singapore and look at a green map of Singapore , with recycling points and ecological tourism destinations marked. Probably the most useful site I’ve found so far, though, is the Singapore Environment Council site, with a whole lot of information on green groups and activities.

On a more corporate scale, there’s a Singapore Green Business Alliance, promoting “environmental protection, best practice and cooperation amongst companies based in Singapore”. The National Environment Agency site is pretty clear, as well, and if I want to actually hire someone to do something about making my business more environmentally aware, the Green Pages have a long list. Surprisingly, my new bank also seem pretty committed, offering advice on responsible business to SMEs.

So it looks like I can at least make an effort to reduce my impact on the environment. In fact, it looks like I can do so to the same degree I do in the UK, which isn’t really very much aside from recycling things and buying local food. Maybe in Singapore I’ll be less lazy and a bit more proactive. Or maybe Singapore’s consumer culture will encourage Fresh and Wild to move over here and I can carry on as I am.

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