Tan Weiliang, Recipient of NEA Eco-Friend Award Students Category


This week on Humans of Singapore's Environmental Scene (HOSES), we catch up with Tan Weiliang, a recipient of this year’s National Environment Agency (NEA) EcoFriend Award and a proud member of our SSN team.

What are some of your most memorable projects?

I really enjoyed getting involved in the Singapore Environmental Action and Leadership (SEAL) program, which is an environmental education workshop for junior college students. When I went to Scandinavia to learn about best practices in sustainability, I learned that environmental education from a young age is critical to creating a culture of sustainability. This culture is quite lacking in Singapore.

Jeffrey Tong and I co-founded SEAL as part of I’dECO, the Yale-NUS student environmental group. We developed the 3-day workshop curriculum together, incorporating key concepts of environmental studies and bringing participants on site visits so that they can see how these theories can be applied to different situations in Singapore. On the last day, students are tasked with coming up with meaningful interventions and concrete projects to improve sustainability in Singapore. We hope that they will execute these ideas beyond the workshop. It was actually very encouraging to know that there are enthusiastic and bright young people who are interested in making an impact.

Apart from SEAL, I was also involved in the Sustainability Blueprint Project, which aims to compile a list of best practices in other educational institutions and bring them over to our Yale-NUS campus. I primarily worked on the Dining Hall report. Some changes we made include the separation of food waste and general waste for recycling purposes, reducing plate sizes and removing trays altogether to cut down food waste. We also pushed for a Sustainability Advisory Committee which the school administration agreed to set up. It’s currently in the works.

What environmental hot topics are you interested in?

Over the summer, I did some research on consumer perception in Singapore of genetically modified (GM) food. GM food is very controversial and people have such polarizing opinions. Even in academia...biologists are very supportive, ecologists are usually against it. So I wanted to see if this weird divide is present in the Singapore population, especially since we are quite apathetic over these things and you don’t expect us to be polarised.

Any insights on how we can promote environmental sustainability in Singapore?

In 2015, Jeffrey and I went to Scandinavia for 6 weeks to work on an organic and biodynamic farm. It was a very interesting experience because I had to do weeding for the first time in my life and it was so challenging! Environmental work in Singapore usually takes place in a comfy air-conditioned room…

During this time, we interviewed 25 stakeholders in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and tried to find out what builds and creates a culture of sustainability. We came up with 4 ideas - environmental education, connectedness of the environmental community (which led to us co-founding SSN!), a more egalitarian society and closeness to nature.

Tell us a random fun fact.

Well I didn’t know how to cycle and cycling is essential if you want to survive in Scandinavia and make the most of their intensive cycling lanes. So I spent one month aggressively learning how to cycle. I would make appointments with friends to cycle, sometimes cycling 3-4 times a week.

  Congratulations Tan Weiliang! We're proud of you. -SSN Team

Congratulations Tan Weiliang! We're proud of you. -SSN Team

Imran Rashid, Ground-Up Initiative

For this week's HOSES... We feature Imran Rashid from Ground-Up Initiative, GUI. :)

"Hi! My name is Imran, Imran Rashid. I'm 31 this year, and I've been working at GUI as a full-time farmer since August last year.


Before this I was working in IT for 5 years. I have a diploma in engineering. And... now I'm a farmer.

I got into a major motorbike accident which landed me in a coma for 3 hours, hospitalized for 2 months, and MC for 3 months... That was the turning point for me. I was very lucky to be alive; the doctors told my parents to prepare for the worst. I felt that I was given a second chance.

So I asked myself, you know, what if I died or something happened to me again? Will I be happy with how I've lived my life?

GUI Kampung has really been teaching me how to become the best version of myself, I feel, putting my best and hard work into nature and the world, instead of consuming and consuming. It's taught me how to live in a more mindful way especially when I'm barefooted and working closely with the soil. It makes me feel like I'm doing something for a bigger purpose rather than just for myself.

Here at GUI, we really want people to have a sense of responsibility, from the Ground, Up. Everything here is done by us ourselves and the volunteers from the sweeping, to the upkeep. And we do this not because we have to, but because we WANT to.

Recently, GUI has been exploding. We have a lot of people coming and we're expanding. I feel that we're in the precipice of something big, and I really feel really grateful to be a part of this, even if it's a small part - it's something that I'm looking forward to for my life."


This excerpt is part of a photojournalism project about Singapore's farming scene by Kimberly Hoong.

Entomological Network of Singapore (ENSING)

This week on Humans of Singapore's Environmental Scene (HOSES), we are pleased to introduce to you the Entomological Network of Singapore (ENSING)!

Tell us a little about what ENSING does.
We are a group of individuals who are strongly passionate about insects. We are curious about all aspects of entomology (i.e. the study of insects), including their biology, behavior, relationships with other organisms (ourselves included) and the important roles they play in our native ecosystems. We established ENSING to promote knowledge and a greater appreciation for these fascinating, important, but also often misunderstood group of animals.

Tell us one project that you're working on right now.
We are initiating a research study to investigate and document the under-studied entomofauna (i.e., insects!) of Sisters Island. As we're still in the early planning stages, we aren't able to provide information at this point. But we hope to share updates in the near future.

Who/ what inspires you?
E. O. Wilson and his forward-thinking approach to science and conservation.
For example, one of Wilson's main tenets is the discovery, documentation and conservation of smaller organisms of our world. His approach counters widely practiced, traditional conservation approaches that center on a few iconic large animals and flowering plants. Wilson places great emphasis on conserving the "unseen" organisms, from insects to microbes, which represent a massive proportion of life on Earth. They are all integral to the health of the whole planet, including our human societies.

What are your hopes for Singapore’s environmental future?
That through citizen science and exploration, our people will come to recognize and cherish the value of our precious ecosystems and unique biodiversity, even for the uncharismatic microfauna.

Truly inspiring indeed! Thank you ENSING for pioneering an unconventional, but nonetheless essential aspect of conservation in Singapore.

To find out more about ENSING, do contact them at: https://www.facebook.com/entomologysingapore/

Raye Padit, Connected Threads Asia

For this week’s HOSES feature, we are excited to share Raye’s story with Connected Threads Asia!

What does Connected Threads Asia do?
We advance and promote the sustainable fashion industry in Singapore and beyond.

What is one exciting project that you are working on right now?
Swapaholic! It is a clothing and accessory swap that helps declutter and refresh your closet, without hurting your wallet and our planet!

Tell us one thing you’ve read/watched/event you’ve attended lately. 
A Plastic Ocean documentary that was organized by Gone Adventuring. The documentary was empowering in pushing us to do more. At the same time, it was worrying because it showed that we need to act fast to stop further damage to our planet. 

Who/ what inspires you?
"We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children"- Cheif Seattle

Your hopes for Singapore’s environmental future?
I hope that we can become more responsible with our consumption. 

Thank you Raye! To find out more about what Raye does, or more about Connected Threads Asia, contact Raye at: https://www.facebook.com/raye.padit10.

Ang Jia Da, Young NTUC

In this week’s edition of HOSES, we speak with Ang Jia Da from Young NTUC:

Briefly describe your organisation:
We are the youth wing of the labour movement in Singapore. We take the long term view that environmental sustainability underpins our economy and society. Environmental focus is embedded within our mission and strategic imperatives. One of our two mission statements is “Sustainable progress for all”, with “Environment” being one of our six strategic imperatives. 
Check out this link for more info: http://tinyurl.com/y9hjrpff

What is one exciting project you are working on right now? 
Collaborating with Global Compact Network Singapore (GCNS), bringing youth volunteers together to organise the GCNS Youth Forum in conjunction with Singapore Power Shift 2017. The forum is targeted at 150 youths wanting to do more for sustainability issues and green advocacy. The underlying message is that we hope our youths can pursue their environmental passions, be it through volunteering or through a green career.

Tell us about one interesting thing you’ve read or watched recently. 
An excerpt from Gillian Tett's "The Silo Effect", featuring a case study of Sony in which individual business units created competing products that ended up confusing consumers. In the 90s, the world was getting ready for the Internet. At one of their conventions, Sony unveiled a small device the size of a packet of chewing gum, the all-new “Memory Stick Walkman”, a digital version of the Walkman, looking all set for the Internet age. Then, at the same stage, Idei (CEO of Sony) waved a second device on stage, the “Vaio MusicClip”, a pen-sized digital audio player that recorded music. Soon after the convention, Sony released a third device called “Network Walkman”. In a short span of time, three new similar competing devices from the same company, each with its own proprietary formats, were produced by silo teams. This affected sales as well as confused Sony's salespeople and loyal consumers. Instead of making one very good product, resources were spent to make three competing products. Not long after, Sony dropped out of sight in the digital music race and paved the way for the iPod. Had Sony broken up the silos in the company, the situation might be very different today.

Who or what inspires you?
The youths' energy and can do attitude.

What are your hopes for Singapore’s environmental future?
I hope Singapore's and the world's environmental issues can be as important as economic issues in time to come, so that more can be done before it's too late.

Contact Jia Da at jiada@ntuc.org.sg

Ang Jia Cong, UN-Habitat

Meet Ang Jia Cong!

A graduate from the Master of Architecture program at National University of Singapore’s School of Design and Environment, Jia Cong is currently part of the City Planning, Extension and Design Unit (CPEDU) within the Urban Planning and Design Branch in UN-Habitat Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya. She is also an advocate under the United Nations Major Working Group for Children and Youth (UNMGCY), contributing to discussions for Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda. 

Her architectural passions thread the juncture of humanitarianism and environmentalism, where she seeks to explore the possibilities of crisis- solving in disaster-stricken environments and to provide for urban planning solutions to improve living conditions for locals and displaced – she is currently involved in Kenyan projects - Kalobeyei New Settlement Project (Turkana County, Kenya) for integrated Host and Refugee communities, and Kenya Municipal Planning workshops, design and publications for urban planning. Her past experience has involved her in field-shelter missions with the Christian Nationals’ Commission in Cambodia, Thailand and West Kalimantan, alongside other sustainable-practice projects worldwide. 

On why she does what she does:
“The desire or urge to work in the field of sustainable architecture, urban planning, and youth is its promise for change and growth – it sounds cliché but does hold true - the nature of these practices require holistic, all-encompassing approaches. It is work that keeps one humble, demanding assistance from various experts from cross cutting sectors – public space design, urban planning, sustainable technologies, environmental specialist, legal departments, architects, and the direct inclusion and participation from the local community. Working in a team ensures you give your best to the projects to maximize effectiveness of shared goals, and it pushes you to crystallise your values parallel to the rest of the world. 

In Singapore, we are fortunate for a history of great leadership, camaraderie and our strategic economic developments – the success of our Urban Boards and design practices have allowed for unparalleled improvement in all sectors of life and the physical environment. The opportunities and potential to extend the knowledge of our practices to others should also be encouraged. We have a lot to learn as well – the appreciation for untamed nature, the regulated consumption of land and services, and the abundances of other cultures. Whatever small action we produce can contribute a magnitude of difference to the environment we live in. A simple thing to begin doing is to embrace change with greater environmental awareness. Some movements seem small but are largely beneficial – movements like Trash Hero, Home Composting practices, Urban Farming, and even replacing plastic bags by reusing or carrying your own bag add up in small measures. 

On top of these passions, I am a consummate traveller, easy going, and on the listening end of whimsical conversations. I read quite extensively, draw in spurts, hope to improve my yoga practice and enjoy photography projects and learning new things. I also write at THEBIGSPUR, which covers a range of interests that mostly thread the practices of environmentalism and sustainability, and this is my academic design portfolio. I can be contacted at angjiacong@gmail.com and am always up for a new adventure!”

Regina Vanda, Lens On SG

What is your name, and what is your organization?
My name is Regina Vanda, and I come from Lens On SG (https://www.facebook.com/lenson.sg/). 

Describe your organization in one sentence.
Lens On is a photojournalistic project to share, explore, and analyse ideas for sustainable development from the ground up.

Tell us one exciting project that you’re working on right now.
Energy saving in our Labs and offices!

Tell us one thing you’ve read/watched/event you’ve attended lately. 
I attended the 4th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resource as a volunteer of People's Movement to Stop Haze (PM.Haze). That was my first time attending such a conference. It was overwhelming knowing that I was probably the youngest person there. But I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet so many remarkable people working towards sustainable development and to hear their insights.

What are your hopes for Lens On? 
I hope that Lens On’s ideas can inspire concrete actions towards a sustainable future, where readers would ask themselves, "What can I do in my capacity?". Today, Lens On covers ideas from Singapore and Indonesia, because these are the countries in which I have lived. It’s only in these places where I have a contextual understanding of whether Lens On’s ideas work well or not. I hope that my ideas can benefit people from other countries, and that they would in turn contribute their own insights from countries I have never been in.

Any advice for young Singaporeans wanting to contribute to the environmental movement here?
Ask yourself what do you care about and why. Then, try to find out your place in that. Most of the time, we know what needs to be done, but we just need a reason to just do it and a community to empower us. So try attending green events, or volunteering for green organisations. It is an amazing feeling to know that you are not alone in this movement! 

What are your hopes for Singapore’s environmental future?
I hope for greater sense of ownership of the environment, in both landscaped and natural ones. Being more aware that we can have significant impact on environments miles away from our small island would be fantastic. With this realization, we need to chose to make our impact positive. Singapore is already a hub for many things; I hope that it will also become a hub for environmental stewards.

If you would like to find out more about Regina and the work she does, contact her at lenson.sg@gmail.com

Michael Broadhead, Earthfest Singapore

What is your name, and the name of your organization? 
Michael (Mike) Broadhead, from Animal Allies / EarthFest.

Use one sentence to describe your organization.
We inspire people to make more compassionate, healthy and sustainable choices in Singapore.

Tell us one exciting project you are working on right now!
One exciting project we are working on right now is a Starter Kit for plant-based food in restaurants. The starter kit helps business owners, chefs and manager understand the business case for having plant-based options. It then goes through examples of success stories and practical tips on how to develop dishes and find resources like suppliers and consultants.
Another exciting project in EarthFest 2018. In January 2018, Marina Barrage will feature the launch of the Sustainable Singapore gallery Earthfest will continue to build upon its food festival, maker fair and carnival concept!

What is one interesting thing you’ve read/ watched/ attended lately?
The film “Minimalism”.
(Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Co1Iptd4p4)

Who/ what inspires you?
My fellow volunteers at Earthfest and Animal Allies!

What are your hopes for Singapore’s environmental future?
I hope there will be greater awareness for how diet impacts sustainability, and I hope to create greater incentives for more sustainable eating. 

To get in touch with Mike, drop an email at Me@mikebroadhead.com