When Going Green Gets Tough, the Tough get Greener.

So I was flipping through the papers while  on the way to work one morning, reached the forum section and decided to tweet something.

Letters featured in the forum section basically talked about how there was still a lack of initiative amongst people in the heartland to actually go green, despite introducing initiatives such as recycling bins, and even providing yellow (though ironically plastic) bags to each household to place their recyclable materials in, after which would be picked up.

I must say that there is some truth to this, as it made me reflect on an incident that happened a few days earlier.

So OK,  lady at coffee shop #1 doesn’t really get the point about BYO. Initially it seemed to be a cost issue. She said my cup was bigger than theirs. Fair enough, I don’t mind paying for the upsize. But yet, she still insisted filling a plastic cup, before I could transfer it to my reusable cup. Like lady, could you just try to think out of the box, for once? I said, “Well thanks, but no thanks” and left, as other people in the queue gave a (somewhat typical) curious-cum- “oh my god she did something out of the norm” look.


So yay, I got my teh si peng siew dai, and now I don’t even have to repeat my order because lady in coffee shop #2 knows exactly what I want when she sees me approaching with my reusable starbucks cup with a candy cane looking straw (one of them Xmas specials). Lady #2 doesn’t smile much, but she’s cool…. and overtime I’m sure she will 🙂

What seems to be clear from this little social experiment is that convincing people of going green will take a long time. Various environmental groups like ECO-Singapore have been making on-going efforts in trying to raise environmental awareness in the heartlands. However, like in any community development programme, the fruits of such labour would only be seen in the medium to long term.

That said, going green is more than just telling someone to use a BYO cup or recycle. Half of it boils down to EQ and effective social skills of understanding the other party’s needs and concerns. Communicating is not a one way street. Environmentalists need to understand that they have to do more than just tell people “Hey Go Green! Look at me I’m doing it, why aren’t you?”. Environmentalists must also open their ears and address responses (whether pessimistic or just reality) such as “Why should I? How does it address the current problems (like bread and butter issues) that I face?”. Answering these concerns with clarity and building trust for long lasting communication would be necessary.

Let’s hope environmentalists take these 2 cents into account at Cancun.



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  1. boooo…. I had a falling out with the soupsop juice makers in canteen B because when I asked them why they didn’t serve me my juice in their regular reusable cups, but changed to disposable ones, they insisted that they switch to the environmentally friendlier disposables ones… approved by NEA.

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