I’m an environmentalist.
What was the first thing that came into your mind when I said that?
Was it a grubby looking tree-hugger? Or a threatening-looking woman yelling at you for so much as thinking of using disposables?
Truth be told, I’m none of the above, because I am you.
I’m the average student—I stress about school, find comfort in my friends, and have a large family who feeds me amazing food every weekend.
However, where you and I differ, is that I’m currently on a mission to get Changi Airport to go plastic straw-free.
(I know that my campaign sounds very ambitious, but hear me out)
I was inspired to begin such a journey after I decided to research how plastic was produced, its ridiculous lifespan (Forever!) and how much plastic waste humans generate. When I learnt of horrifying statistics such as how by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish—I realized that it was time for me to do something. I was tired of waiting for someone else help preserve our only planet.
I chose plastic straws as my “menace” because of how easily they can be eliminated from our lives, and Changi airport as my target for change because of the sheer volume of people Changi handles each year. Another unique feature that drew me to about Changi was that it was the place with the most contact with international visitors, and thus could be an effective trailblazer for change to occur in other countries.
I know that to some, it is strange that a teen is trying to do something so ambitious.
“How is a 16-year-old supposed to convince Changi Airport to ditch straws?”
I’m not too sure how either, but I’m praying that sheer determination will get me somewhere.
Right now, my project is still in its infancy and undoubtedly, there’s a long road to go. However, I am prepared to persevere through all the rejection I will face, and ultimately—effect change beyond Changi. My hope is that other large places of interest such as Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios Singapore, and National stadiums will go plastic straw-free in the future, and that more importantly, the attitude Singaporeans have towards plastic straws and other one-use plastics will shift towards one that is more responsible and proactive.
Singapore has a vision to be a zero-waste nation but I believe that nothing will change if policies and public attitudes do not progress beyond the status quo. Singapore is a small nation with limited resources—let’s not waste them building another landfill or incinerator.
By starting small with straws, I believe that change will happen eventually.