February Events in Singapore

Check out the green events in Singapore this February. Let’s raise awareness, take action, connect with nature, join the environmental movement, and meet like-minded people.

cover-photo

1. Edible Garden Volunteers

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Sun, 11th, 18th, and 25th of Feb.

Location: Roof Top Garden @ 506, 506 Yishun Avenue 4, Singapore, 760506

Organiser: Tony the Farmer

Description:

Visit the community garden and help out with basic garden chores like weeding, composting preps, harvesting, soil mixing, and watering. Produce from the garden goes to the community fridge, which helps families in need.

Click here to learn more. .

2. Litter Vanture (Clean up)

Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Sat., 17th Feb.

Location: Boon Keng MRT Station (NE9), 900 Serangoon Road, Singapore, 328260

Organiser: Stridy

Description:

Get an hour of walking exercise in, maybe meet some interesting people, do some good and learn all about the waste management challenges in Singapore.

Litter picking equipment will be provided so you won’t get your hands dirty.

Click here for more information.

3. Urban Farming Workshop

Time: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m., 23rd Feb., 2024

Location: Choa Chu Kang Public Library – Programme Room 1 (Level 4), 21 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4, Lot One Shoppers’ Mall, #04-01/02

Organiser: GoLibrary | National Library Board

Description:

The programme will cover Singapore’s food story as well as the “30 by 3o” mission. Participants will learn about urban farming and the science behind Controlled Environmental Agriculture.

Learn more about the event here.

4. NUS Social Impact Catalyst: Project Demo Day

Time: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., 24th Feb., 2024

Location: 180 Kitchener Road #06-10, Singapore, 208539

Organiser: NUS Social Impact Catalyst

Description:

NUS Social Impact Catalyst’s annual Project Demo Day (PDD) showcases top-tier student talent and explores groundbreaking student-led projects focusing on sustainability and innovation.

Witness a competitive pitch battle where NUS students contend for grants totaling $65,000, driving their projects towards real-world impact.

Learn more about the event here.

5. Plastic: Remaking Our World

Time: 23rd Jan. – 23rd Jun., 2024

Location: National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road Singapore

Organiser: National Museum of Singapore

Description:

Plastic: Remaking Our World examines the history and future of this controversial material: from its meteoric rise in the 20th century and its environmental impact to cutting-edge solutions for a more sustainable way of using plastic. The exhibition features over 300 objects, posters, films and photographs from the Vitra Design Museum and its partners, including rarities from the dawn of the plastic age, objects of the pop era and contemporary designs and projects, with additional content on the use of plastic and sustainability in Singapore.

Learn more details here.

6. Zero • Market

Time: 9:00 – 14:00, 1st and 3rd Saturday & Sunday

Place: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre, 30A Yishun Central 1, Singapore 768796

Organiser: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre 慈济人文青年中心

Description:

The Zero • Market is a sustainable lifestyle market, where fresh produce and sustainable goods are available! They are working towards Zero Waste, starting with Zero Meat and Zero Plastic (except for unavoidable plastic packaging). It takes place every 1st and 3rd weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of the month unless otherwise stated. Visit the Zero • Market and don’t forget to bring your own bag!

Learn more here.

7. Repair Kopitiam

Time: Sunday, 25th February 

Place: Various locations 

Organiser: Repair Kopitiam 

Description:

Repair Kopitiam is an initiative designed to combat the disposable culture by offering a platform where individuals can mend their personal belongings with guidance and assistance from volunteer “Repair Coaches”. This do-it-yourself (DIY) repair event takes place on the final Sunday of each month at different locations throughout the country. To participate, attendees need to schedule a specific timeslot and are allowed to bring up to two items for repair during each session.

Booking opens on 9th February through 21st February. Read event house rules here.

The Weird and Wonderful: Coral Reef

Much of Singapore’s coral reefs have experienced significant impact due to extensive land reclamation and coastal development over the past five decades. From 1922 to 1993, the extent of coral reef areas was reduced by nearly 50%. 

cover-photo

In this series, we showcase the diversity of rare, peculiar, and fascinating native flora and fauna in Singapore. We enthusiastically invite you to explore our nature reserves and gardens, urging you to pause and observe your surroundings—whether by looking up or down—to see if you can catch a glimpse of these unique wonders.

Are corals rocks, plants, or animals?

Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems that play a critical role in maintaining the health and balance of marine environments. These living structures serve as foundation keystone species and ecosystem engineers, providing habitat and shelter to a multitude of marine species. Despite occupying less than 1% of the marine floor, coral reefs support over 25% of the world’s marine life.

Although corals permanently attach themselves to the ocean floor and “take root” like most plants do, and they don’t have distinct faces or body parts like most animals do, they are animals. 

As foundation species, hard corals play a transformative role in shaping their surrounding environments by building coral reefs that many other organisms use. Coral reefs are made up of hundreds to thousands of small, delicate marine organisms known as coral polyps. These tiny coral polyps secrete a hard outer skeleton of calcium carbonate that attaches to rock or the dead skeletons of other polyps. Over time, as the calcium carbonate accumulates and corals reproduce, the size of a coral reef grows. They are built over hundreds of thousands of years. 

Coral polyps live in a symbiotic relationship with a specific type of algae called zooxanthellae that live in their tissues. The coral provides the plant-like organism with a protected environment, sufficient sunlight, and nutrients in the form of the coral’s metabolic waste for photosynthesis, the process by which plants make their food. In return, the zooxanthellae produce oxygen, remove wastes, and supply the coral with the organic products it needs to grow and thrive. 

Not all corals are reef builders; soft corals do not build stony skeletons and don’t have a symbiotic relationship with algae. 

Corals are communal animals related to sea anemones and jellyfish. Each tiny coral polyp uses their stinging tentacles to capture creatures like zooplankton or organic debris that float by. Their symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae allows them to get additional energy. Remarkably, the zooxanthellae transfer approximately 90% of the organic material they produce to the host coral tissue, enhancing the coral’s nutrient intake.

A symbiotic relationship is a close long-term relationship between two species, where one or both species benefit from the interaction. There are four main symbiotic relationships, mutualism, commensalism, parasitism, and competition.

Threats faced by coral reefs

Despite their many strengths, coral reefs are fragile and extremely sensitive to environmental conditions. They need clean, clear water to survive and have been especially vulnerable to a diverse range of human activities, including coastal changes and pollution. Today, the challenges faced by coral reefs are further exacerbated by two global trends: increasing sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification, primarily caused by climate change.

Zooxanthellae, in addition to supplying corals with vital nutrients, contribute to the distinctive and vibrant colours observed in many stony corals. When corals undergo physical stress, such as high temperatures, they expel their symbiotic zooxanthellae, losing their main food source. They also lose their colour, resulting in a bleak white appearance. This is commonly described as “coral bleaching”. Prolonged periods without zooxanthellae (and if bleaching events happen too frequently) can lead to the death of the coral colony.

The first global bleaching event occurred in 1998 and killed about 8% of the world’s coral. In the last four decades, there has been a noticeable decrease in the abundance of corals, accompanied by a more frequent occurrence of bleaching incidents and an increase in algae levels within our oceans, which suggest a decline in the overall health of coral reefs. Recent studies, however, have found that reef systems do not respond uniformly to bleaching events and post-bleaching recovery can occur at different degrees. 

What do we know about coral reefs in Singapore?

Much of Singapore’s coral reefs have experienced significant impact due to extensive land reclamation and coastal development over the past five decades. From 1922 to 1993, the extent of coral reef areas was reduced by nearly 50%. Consequently, these activities led to a rise in levels of turbidity and sediment in the marine environment.

Surprisingly, Singapore’s waters host a remarkably diverse array of marine life, boasting a diverse range of over 250 species of reef-forming hard corals that are habitat to over 100 species of reef fishes. Most of the coral reefs are found along the southern shores of Singapore––surrounding the islands, on tidally-exposed areas along the Singapore Straits, and along the last remaining rocky shore on Labrador Beach. There has also been unexpected diversity along man-made seawalls, which cover over 70% of Singapore’s coastline. 

Turbid coral reefs, characterised by high levels of turbidity, are often found in shallow coastal waters close to urban areas like Singapore. They have shown an incredible ability to endure and survive under chronic sediment stress and low-light environmental conditions. It has also been suggested that Singapore’s urbanised reefs can recover quickly from thermal stress events, compared to reefs in more remote areas. 

As climate change continues to drive increases in ocean temperatures, the frequency and intensity of marine heatwaves and severe bleaching events are also on the rise. Additionally, rising sea levels are resulting in deeper waters above shallow reefs, reducing the amount of light that reaches the corals, and potentially threatening reefs around the world.

While our coral reefs demonstrate remarkable resilience and adaptability in coping with challenging conditions of reduced light and high temperatures, there can still be negative impacts on their overall health and growth. The survival of these vital marine ecosystems depends on our proactive and innovative measures and solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. By acting now, we can work towards preserving and safeguarding these valuable ecosystems.

How can you contribute to protecting and conserving our coral reefs?

  • Practice responsible snorkelling and diving. Avoid touching or stepping on corals and maintain a safe distance from marine life
  • Choose reef-friendly sunscreen. Use mineral-based sunscreen that is free of harmful chemicals known to cause coral bleaching.
  • Reduce pollution and waste to prevent pollutants from entering the marine environment.
  • Support sustainable seafood practices to reduce the demand for destructive fishing practices.
  • Contribute to reef restoration efforts. Volunteer or donate to organisations that actively work towards restoring damaged reefs and promoting their conservation. Explore WildSingapore’s list of opportunities for individuals to contribute their assistance.
  • Respect marine protected areas. Observe and adhere to regulations when visiting Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. 

If you come across coral reefs in the wild, we encourage you to (safely and respectfully) capture photos and document your observations. We especially recommend using the local SGBioAtlas app, or the iNaturalist app, which enables you to share and validate your findings within the community.

Discover the wonders of nature, observe the intricacies of the world around you, and let curiosity be your guide. Happy exploring!

📷 Post your findings on social media and tag us on Instagram or Facebook.

Further reading:

🇸🇬 100,000 corals to be planted in Singapore waters, Big Sister’s Island to reopen in 2024

📋 Scientists Are Learning How to Help Coral Reefs Save Themselves

The Weird and Wonderful: Sea Star

Sea Stars, commonly called Starfish, are not fish. They don’t have gills, fins, scales, and no backbone. These star-shaped invertebrates are related to sea urchins and sea cucumbers, which all belong to the group Echinodermata––meaning spiny skin.

cover-photo

In this series, we showcase the diversity of rare, peculiar, and fascinating native flora and fauna in Singapore. We enthusiastically invite you to explore our nature reserves and gardens, urging you to pause and observe your surroundings—whether by looking up or down—to see if you can catch a glimpse of these unique wonders.

Sea Stars

Sea Stars, commonly called Starfish, are not fish. They don’t have gills, fins, scales, and no backbone. These star-shaped invertebrates are related to sea urchins and sea cucumbers, which all belong to the group Echinodermata––meaning spiny skin. Echinoderms have hard calcified skin that helps them protect them from most predators.

Sea stars can be found in every ocean of the world. Most species have five long arms that join a central disk, although some may have more like the Eight-armed Sea Star!

Common name: Eight-armed Sea Star

Scientific name: Luidia maculate 

The Eight-armed Sea Star is native to the Indo-Pacific region. It is one of the largest species of sea stars in Singapore and can grow up to 60cm across in diameter. The number of arms can range from five to nine, but it is commonly observed that they have eight arms. It is often spotted in sub-tidal waters or near areas with seagrass or coral rubble in Northern shores. It feeds on both algae, rotting plants, mussels, clams, snails, worms, and other small creatures.  

Sea stars are known for their five-point radial symmetry. Some sea stars have arms so short and stubby that they resemble a pentagon, like the Cushion Star.

Common name: Cushion Star

Scientific name: Culcita novaeguineae

The Cushion Star is a small sea star that grows up to 5cm. It has very short, broad arms and a puffy appearance, resembling a pentagonal pin cushion. It varies in colour and can be found in tropical waters in the Indo-Pacific. It feeds on algae, barnacles, and other invertebrates. To catch its food, the cushion star inflates its “cushion”, and deflates on top of its prey.

Sea stars have hundreds of suction-bottomed tube feet on the underside of their arms. These tube feet serve various functions such as helping sea stars move, attach to surfaces, and collect food.

Most sea stars are carnivores, feeding on sea urchins, clams, oysters, crabs, and snails. They display a scavenging behaviour, devouring nearly anything they can grasp with their arms.  Certain species are omnivores, also incorporating algae and decaying plant matter in their diet. 

In numerous ecosystems, sea stars play a vital role as keystone species, contributing to the maintenance of a healthy marine ecosystem. Their position as natural predators of sea urchins enables them to effectively control the population of sea urchins. Sea urchins have a voracious appetite for kelp and other vegetation, which serve as critical habitat and a food source for a wide variety of species. If sea stars were to decline or die off, the sea urchin population would multiply unchecked, leaving them to consume kelp uncontrollably. In Northern California, for example, the sunflower sea star’s disappearance has turned kelp forests into “urchin barrens”. 

In any ecosystem, including marine ecosystems, a keystone species plays a vital role in maintaining the overall structure and function of the system. Without their presence, ecosystems would experience significant alterations and may struggle to adapt to environmental changes. The disappearance of a keystone species can have far-reaching consequences, potentially disrupting the intricate balance and stability of the entire ecosystem. 

Sea stars face a range of threats, including habitat loss in reef flats and seagrass habitats due to human activities such as coastal development, land reclamation, and dredging. In addition to these localized threats, the broader issue of global warming and rising temperatures poses a significant risk to sea stars as well.

Sea stars have a unique respiratory system as they do not rely on gills or lungs to breathe. Instead, they absorb oxygen through specialized structures called papulae, or skin gills, which are distributed all across their outer surface. These papulae enable the sea stars to facilitate the process of oxygen diffusion. However, a recent study conducted by Cornell University highlights that current ocean conditions have created an environment favourable for increased bacterial growth. Unfortunately, this excessive bacterial growth has led to a depletion of oxygen in the surrounding water––essentially depriving sea stars of the oxygen they need to survive. 

That being said, sea stars are incredibly resilient. They possess an incredible ability to regenerate parts of their body. Even if they lose an arm or a significant portion of their body, they have the remarkable capacity to regrow those sections. As long as at least one-fifth of the central disk and one arm remain intact, the sea star can fully recover. The process of regeneration may take up to a year.

There are at least 31 species of sea stars on the shores of Singapore. Here are two more remarkable species you might be fortunate enough to spot!

Common name: Knobbly Sea Star

Scientific name: Protoreaster nodosus 

The Knobbly Sea Star, also referred to as the Chocolate Chip Sea Star, stands out as one of the largest sea stars found in Singapore, growing up to an impressive 30cm in diameter. It has distinctive brown knobs that look like chocolate chips on its body and arms. These sea stars are commonly observed in areas abundant in coral rubble. Their diet consists of a diverse range of food sources such as clams, snails, sponges, as well as organic matter such as dead plants and animals.

Common name: Common Sea Star

Scientific name: Archaster typicus

The Common Sea Star, which is also known as the Sand Star, is typically found in the shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific region. Despite its name, this sea star has become increasingly rare on the shores of Singapore. With a maximum diameter of around 15cm, these sea stars usually exhibit gray or brownish colors. They prefer habitats in shallow, sheltered areas with silty or sandy substrates, often in proximity to seagrass beds and mangroves. Their diet consists of decaying plant matter as well as small creatures. One fascinating aspect about them is their ability to swiftly move using their tube feet, accomplishing speeds of up to 70cm per minute.

A key consideration when you spot a sea star: don’t pick it up!

You may have heard of the Starfish Story, where a man throws sea stars back into the ocean to save them. Contrary to this tale, picking up sea stars is not encouraged. Sea stars have soft and thin tissues and can become contaminated with bacteria passed on through human touch. The sunscreen or oils on our hands may also harm them.

Sea stars have a crucial dependence on seawater and have limited survival capabilities outside of their watery habitat. Notably, according to Ria Tan from Wild Singapore, if you happen to come across sea stars outside of water, they are likely alive and belong to intertidal species accustomed to enduring periods without water during low tide.

All sea stars that you see are probably alive, [since] dead sea stars disintegrate quickly and don’t leave behind whole skeletons.

Ria Tan, Wild Singapore

If you come across sea stars in the wild, we encourage you to (safely and respectfully) capture photos and document your observations. We especially recommend using the local SGBioAtlas app, or the iNaturalist app, which enables you to share and validate your findings within the community.

Discover the wonders of nature, observe the intricacies of the world around you, and let curiosity be your guide. Happy exploring!

📷 Post your findings on social media and tag us on Instagram or Facebook.

References and further reading:

Sea Stars – Wild Singapore

Predator Overlap Keeps Prey From Getting out of Control

The Weird and Wonderful: Seagrass

Seagrasses are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world and are vital for climate change mitigation. Seagrass ecosystems can sequester up to twice as much carbon from the atmosphere as land forests.

cover-photo

In this series, we showcase the diversity of rare, peculiar, and fascinating native flora and fauna in Singapore. We enthusiastically invite you to explore our nature reserves and gardens, urging you to pause and observe your surroundings—whether by looking up or down—to see if you can catch a glimpse of these unique wonders.

Seagrass

Seagrasses are underwater plants that are commonly found in both tropical and temperate coastal waters. Seagrass is often confused with large seaweed. Unlike seaweeds, which do not have a root system and reproduce by releasing spores, seagrasses are true flowering plants and belong to the same group of plants as land grasses and lilies. They have leaves, roots and veins, and produce flowers and seeds––the roots absorb nutrients from soft sediment and the leaves make food through photosynthesis. Seagrasses thrive in shallow, protected coastal waters with sufficient sunlight. They can exist as a few plants or clumps, but generally form dense underwater meadows.

Seagrass habitats provide crucial services such as acting as shelters and nursery areas for numerous species––including animals like seahorses and juvenile fishes of larger commercially valuable fishes and marine creatures, contributing to nutrient cycling, improving water quality, stabilising sediments for coastal protection, and playing a big part in carbon sequestration by retaining carbon within their leaves and roots.  

In addition, seagrasses support a complex food web. They serve as the primary food source for sea turtles and dugongs in our waters. Sea turtles and dugongs eat seagrasses, including the seeds of the plants, and play a role in seed dispersal as they pass the seeds through their digestive systems and excrete them. Seagrasses also indirectly contribute to the food chain by hosting microscopic algae on their leaves. Smaller animals feed on these algae and, in turn, are prey for larger animals.

Seagrasses are one of the most productive ecosystems in the world and are vital for climate change mitigation. Seagrass ecosystems can sequester up to twice as much carbon from the atmosphere as land forests. They store large amounts of carbon through photosynthesis by trapping them in their stems. And when parts of the plants die and decay, they collect on the seafloor, eventually getting buried in sediment and effectively trapping carbon for hundreds of years. Although seagrasses account for less than 0.2% of the world’s oceans, they sequester roughly 10% of the carbon stored in ocean sediment annually.

Over the past fifty years, there has been significant and widespread decline in global seagrass cover, primarily attributed to human activities such as changes in land-use, coastal changes, dredging, and declining water quality. They are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems, experiencing an annual loss of approximately 1.5%. and accelerating in recent decades. It is estimated that at least 29% of the global coverage of seagrass meadows have been lost. The ecosystem services they provide make seagrasses a high conservation priority.

Seagrasses were previously abundant on Singapore’s shores, but their diversity and extent were never rigorously documented until recently. There are three major seagrass meadows in Singapore. They are at Chek Jawa Wetlands, Pulau Semakau, and Cyrene Reef.

Locations where seagrass (including total number of species) has been reported from around Singapore.

There are about 72 different seagrass species in the world. These are some of the species that are found in Singapore.

Common name: Tape Seagrass

Scientific name: Enhalus acoroides

Tape Seagrasses have long ribbon-like leaves that can grow up to 150cm long. They are often found close to mangrove forests. Tape Seagrasses are abundant at Pulau Semakau and Cyrene Reef.

Common name: Smooth Ribbon Seagrass

Scientific name: Cymodocea rotundata

Smooth Ribbon Seagrasses have flat narrow leaves that look like straps with a smooth rounded leaf tip.

Common name: Serrated Ribbon Seagrass

Scientific name: Cymodocea serrulata

Serrated Ribbon Seagrasses have a similar shape as Smooth Ribbon Seagrasses, with slightly wider leaves and a serrated leaf tip instead.

Common name: Sickle Seagrass

Scientific name: Thalassia hemprichii

Sickle Seagrasses have hooked curved-shaped leaves with short black bars on its leaf blade.

Common name: Noodle Seagrass

Scientific name: Syringodium isoetifolium

As its common name suggests, Noodle Seagrasses mimic spaghetti. The leaves are cylindrical and grow up to 30cm long.

Common name: Needle Seagrass

Scientific name: Halodule uninervis

Needle Seagrasses are long and narrow with a leaf tip resembling the letter “W”. They are the preferred food for Dugongs.

Common name: Fern Seagrass

Scientific name: Halophila spinulosa

Fern seagrasses look like… ferns! Tiny leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, and the “fronds” grow up to 15cm long. They can be found at Check Jawa.

Common name: Hairy Spoon Seagrass

Scientific name: Halophila decipiens

Hairy Spoon Seagrasses have small oval leaves and leaf hairs on both sides of the leaves. They were discovered on Singapore shores only in 2007.

A key consideration when visiting seagrass meadows:

The roots and rhizomes (underground stems) of seagrass are often buried in sand or mud. When trampled on, the underground stems can damage and take a long time to recover. So keep off the seagrass!

Join a conservation initiative!

Consider becoming a part of Team Seagrass–– a volunteer team working in collaboration with the National Biodiversity Centre of the National Parks Board and Seagrass-Watch. Help contribute to the monitoring of seagrasses along Singapore’s shores!

If you come across seagrass in the wild, we encourage you to (safely and respectfully) capture photos and document your observations. We especially recommend using the local SGBioAtlas app, or the iNaturalist app, which enables you to share and validate your findings within the community.

Discover the wonders of nature, observe the intricacies of the world around you, and let curiosity be your guide. Happy exploring!

📷 Post your findings on social media and tag us on Instagram or Facebook.

References and further reading:

🌱 What are seagrasses? (Team SeaGrass)

🌱 Seagrasses on the Shores of Singapore (Wild Singapore)

📄 The Diversity And Distribution Of Seagrass In Singapore

📄 Seagrass habitats of Singapore: Environmental Drivers and Key Processes

7 Practical Ways to Reduce Textile Waste

The fashion industry has long been synonymous with change and innovation, yet with these advancements comes a controversial side – the problem of textile waste. Here are some practical ways to reduce textile waste and make a positive impact on the planet. 

cover-photo

The fashion industry has long been synonymous with change and innovation, yet with these advancements comes a controversial side – the problem of textile waste. Textile waste is pollution caused by the production and disposal of textiles such as clothes, shoes, accessories, towels, sheets, curtains, mattresses and more. It has adverse impacts on the environment.

In production, various toxic chemicals, dyes, and heavy metals used in the making of textiles, when not properly managed, find their way into water systems through run-off, which can affect the water quality of water bodies like rivers and lakes and underground aquifers. Run-off contamination also poses health risks to local communities that consume or come into contact with contaminated water, poisons the soil, and disrupts the balance of aquatic ecosystems.

The fast-fashion industry contributes to textile waste in a significant way. In response to the demand for budget-friendly trendy clothing, companies produce products quickly with synthetic materials. Polyester, for example, is a type of plastic fabric that is made from petroleum-based substances. During its manufacturing process, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. Notably, the fashion industry produces 2-8% of global greenhouse gas emissions every year. 

The combination of low prices, subpar quality, and fleeting trendy styles also perpetuates a cycle of disposable consumption, where items are bought and discarded shortly after.

When polyester textile ends up in a landfill, it does not break down. It only degrades over time into microplastics and further pollutes the land and water.

In Singapore, textile that does not get recycled gets incinerated along with the rest of our waste and further generates emissions and air pollutants. Particularly concerning is the incineration of garments crafted from synthetic fibres, as it may release microfibers into the atmosphere.

Fashion is a powerful form of storytelling through self-expression. When we don clothing, footwear, and accessories, it evokes a sense of self-confidence and positivity. We use it to communicate our identity, values and personal style. Fashion serves as a visual representation of who we are. Not to forget, fashion also serves a practical function, providing us with clothing suitable for different weather conditions or activities. 

As individuals, we can make a difference by adopting sustainable practices in our fashion choices. Here are seven practical ways to reduce textile waste and make a positive impact on the planet. 

Mindful Consumption

Before making a new purchase, ask yourself if you need it. Consider the quality, versatility, and timelessness of the item. Choosing timeless pieces that can be styled in different ways extends the lifespan of your wardrobe. 

Second-hand Shopping

Explore thrift stores, vintage shops, and second-hand online platforms. Buying pre-loved clothing not only gives garments a second life but also helps to reduce the demand for new production. 

Clothing Swaps

Host or participate in clothing swaps with friends, family, or colleagues. Clothing swaps are a fun and sustainable way to refresh your wardrobe without spending money or contributing to textile waste. Cloop, Swapaholic, and The Fashion Pulpit are a few local organisations to look out for. Connect with them to stay updated on their upcoming events.

Upcycle or Repair

Transform old or worn-out clothing into something new through upcycling. Turn old jeans into shorts, create a tote bag or a pouch from an old t-shirt, embroider designs or add patches to revive old garments. 

Proper Clothing Care

Extend the life of your clothing by following proper care instructions. Wash clothes in cold water, air dry when possible, and avoid over-washing. Proper clothing care helps maintain the integrity of the fabric and prevents premature wear and tear, reducing your need to replace them. 

Support Sustainable Brands

When purchasing new items, support brands that prioritise sustainability. Look for companies that use recycled materials, eco-friendly materials, have ethical manufacturing practices, and take-back programmes. By supporting these brands, you can contribute to a shift in the fashion industry towards more responsible and sustainable practices. 

Donate or Recycle Responsibly

If you find yourself with clothing you no longer need, donate it to local charities or clothing banks. Ensure that the items are clean and in good condition. If the items are not fit for donations, explore recycling options. Cloop’s yellow bins, for example, accept items in any condition.

What are some practices you adopt to make less textile waste?

The Weird and Wonderful: Mangrove

In the current era where climate change is a pressing concern, mangrove forests stand out for their remarkable ability to efficiently sequester carbon, trapping significant amounts of carbon dioxide by storing carbon in their biomass and the surrounding soil.

cover-photo

In this series, we showcase the diversity of rare, peculiar, and fascinating native flora and fauna in Singapore. We enthusiastically invite you to explore our nature reserves and gardens, urging you to pause and observe your surroundings—whether by looking up or down—to see if you can catch a glimpse of these unique wonders.

Mangroves

Mangroves are a group of shrub and tree species that live along shores, rivers, and estuaries in the tropics, subtropics, and even some temperate coastal areas. Although used to describe the species, plant, or forest, the term mangrove is also commonly used collectively to describe the unique ecosystem these plants form.

These inter-tidal forests, comprising salt-tolerant trees featuring a partially exposed network of roots, are possibly the world’s most productive type of wetland. They provide shelter and food for an immense diversity of wildlife. They physically protect coastlines. They provide sustenance, raw materials, and medicine to communities who continue to depend on the land for their livelihoods. They are extremely resilient and are able to withstand the worst of storms, hurricanes, and flooding. 

During high tide, the roots of mangrove plants are completely submerged in seawater. And during low tide they are exposed to the sun. While the distinctive roots of mangroves play a crucial role in facilitating the respiration of these plants, their significance extends beyond that singular function.

Mangrove root systems provide a safe haven for fish fry and juvenile animals and host a variety of species, including mudskippers, otters, and water monitor lizards.

Their roots act as natural filters, trapping sediments and pollutants, and enhancing water quality. They protect marine life, and provide a natural buffer against storm surges and coastal erosion.

In the current era where climate change is a pressing concern, mangrove forests stand out for their remarkable ability to efficiently sequester carbon, trapping significant amounts of carbon dioxide by storing carbon in their biomass and the surrounding soil. 

However, the combined impacts of rising sea levels and activities such as agriculture, aquaculture, urban development, and harvesting have resulted in the erosion and deforestation of mangrove forests, causing the loss of more than a quarter of these vital ecosystems in the past 50 years. In the 1820s, mangroves accounted for 13 percent of Singapore’s land area. Today, less than 1 percent of the mangroves in Singapore remain.

Approximations suggest that Singapore’s remaining mangrove patches may store 450,570.7 megagrams of carbon, an equivalent to the average annual carbon emissions of 621,000 residents

The most extensive expanse of mangrove area on mainland Singapore is loacted within Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve. They can also be found within areas such as Mandai, Labrador Nature Reserve, and Pasir Ris Park, as well as offshore islands like Pulau Semakau and Pulau Ubin. 

There are about 35 mangrove species found in Singapore, here are a few to look out for: 

Common name: Bakau Minyak 

Scientific name: Rhizophora apiculata

The Bakau Minyak is one of the two most common mangrove species in Singapore and native to Singapore. They have the potential to grow upwards of 30 metres or more. Boasting a smooth dark grey bark that can reach up to 50cm in diameter, the bakau minyak is distinguished by its characteristic arching prop or stilt roots connected to the trunk, along with aerial roots emerging from its branches. 

Common name: Bakau Putih, Black Mangrove

Scientific name: Bruguiera cylindrica

The Bakau Putih, also known as Black Mangrove, is another common mangrove species and native to Singapore. These mangroves can reach heights of up to 20 meters but are frequently spotted on nature trails as compact shrubs or modest trees ranging from 2 to 3 meters in height. The trees have a greyish bark and are notably recognised for their lateral roots that stick out from the mud surface, bearing a resemblance to a person’s bent knees.

Common name: Nipah Palm, Water Coconut, Mangrove Palm, Attap

Scientific name: Nypa fruticans

You may already be familiar with this plant based on your knowledge of a popular local dessert. Ice kacang is a local favourite of red beans, creamed corn, grass jelly and the gem of all gems––attap chee, topped with a mountain of ice drizzled with gula melaka. Attap chee is the fruit of the nipah palm. And gula melaka (palm sugar) is made from its sap. The Nipah Palm is a mangrove palm native to Singapore. It is a medium to large-sized stemless palm that frequently grows in small clumps, characterized by its expansive leaf fronds.

If you come across mangroves in the wild, we encourage you to capture photos and document your observations. We especially recommend using the local SGBioAtlas app or the iNaturalist app, which enables you to share and validate your findings within the community.

Discover the wonders of nature, observe the intricacies of the world around you, and let curiosity be your guide. Happy exploring!

📷 Post your findings on social media and tag us on Instagram or Facebook.

November Events in Singapore

November events in Singapore that help you raise awareness, take action, connect with nature, be a part of the environmental movement, and meet like-minded people.

cover-photo

1. Organic Composting for Gardening

Time: 7 p.m. – 8 p.m., Tuesday, 14th November 

Place: Punggol Regional Library – Programme Room

Organiser: GoLibrary, National Library Board

Description:

The Organic Composting for Gardening Programme discusses the importance of organic composting in gardening and its role in contributing to sustainability in Singapore. Key speaker Jayden Ong, co-founder of SoilSocial, will share about the practical aspects of organic composting at home and within community gardens. 

Registration is free. Reserve a spot here.

GoLibrary is the organiser of Programmes on Sustainability. Head to an NLB library to pick up tips on how to live a greener life! Explore other programmes and offerings here.  

2. What’s in my water?

Time: 9:30 a.m.­ – 11:00 a.m., Saturday, 18th November 

Place: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Organiser: National Parks

Description:

What’s in my water? is a guided morning walk at Sungei Buloh that offers an opportunity to explore and familiarize yourself with the diverse land and coastal creatures and plants inhabiting the wetland reserve. Sungei Buloh comprises mangroves, mudflats, ponds, and forests, making it a tropical haven for a wide-ranging ecosystem that includes mudskippers, crabs, water snakes, monitor lizards, otters, and various other species.

The What’s in my water? tour is free. Limited to 12 participants on a first-come-first-serve basis. Registration opens at 8 a.m., 10th November. The walk will be cancelled if it rains. 

3. East Coast Beach Plan Cleanups

Time: Friday, 10th November, Friday, 17th November, Friday, 24th November 

Place: East Coast Park

Organiser: @eastcoastbeachplan

Description:

The East Coast Beach Plan is a ground-up initiative for anyone interested to join or self-organise clean-ups to do their part to reduce plastic pollution from entering the ocean. Note that all sessions are ad-hoc and self-organised by interested individuals, nothing is really centrally organised. Do participate safely and at your own discretion and risk.

Read this document before you go!

4. Zero • Market

Time: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Saturday, 18th November, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sunday, 19th November

Place: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre, 30A Yishun Central 1, Singapore 768796

Organiser: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre 慈济人文青年中心

Description:

The Zero • Market is a sustainable lifestyle market, where fresh produce and sustainable goods are available! They are working towards Zero Waste, starting with Zero Meat and Zero Plastic (except for unavoidable plastic packaging). It takes place every 1st and 3rd Weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of the month unless otherwise stated. Visit the Zero • Market and don’t forget to bring your own bag!

5. Love Our Coast Beach Cleanup

Time: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m., Sunday, 26th November 

Place: Georges @ The Cove

Organiser: Georges

Description:

Love Our Coast Beach Cleanup is an initiative led by georges to promote care and responsibility for the beaches and coastal ecosystems in Singapore. The cleanup process comprises an initial briefing, during which participants will receive cleaning equipment. Following the cleanup, they will be responsible for sorting the items collected from the beach.

Registration is free. Click here to sign up.  

6. Repair Kopitiam

Time: Sunday, 26th November 

Place: Various locations 

Organiser: Repair Kopitiam 

Description:

Repair Kopitiam is an initiative designed to combat the disposable culture by offering a platform where individuals can mend their personal belongings with guidance and assistance from volunteer “Repair Coaches”. This do-it-yourself (DIY) repair event takes place on the final Sunday of each month at different locations throughout the country. To participate, attendees need to schedule a specific timeslot and are allowed to bring up to two items for repair during each session.

Booking opens on 10th November through 21st November. Read event house rules here.

7. Turning waste to energy: TuasOne Waste-To-Energy Plant Tour

Time: 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., 28th November 

Place: Jurong East MRT Station (Meeting point)

Organiser: CGS Experiences

Description:   

Turning waste to energy: TuasOne Waste-To-Energy Plant Tour is a guided visit to Singapore’s sixth waste-to-energy plant. The plant can process about 35% of the garbage that Singapore generates daily, incinerating up to 3,600 tonnes of waste and generating up to 120 megawatts of electricity daily. Explore the facilities and learn about the technologies employed to turn waste materials into energy.

Learn more about the tour and register here

Edit: Wow! This tour is popular and completely booked out now. You can join the waitlist or organise your own group booking via the NEA Portal.

For the little ones:

8. Weird and Wonderful Plants

Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Monday, 20th November

Place: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Centre for Education & Outreach

Organiser: National Parks

Description:

Weird and Wonderful Plants is a children’s workshop and guided tour through the Singapore Botanic Gardens to observe unique and strange plants in their natural habitat. Participants will discover plants with such as the Pitcher plant, Venus flytrap, Ant plant, and Air plant and learn about their important ecological roles, why plant life is crucial for the environment and why it’s essential to conserve biodiversity.

The Weird and Wonderful Plants workshop is $50 per child. Suitable for children in Primary 1 to 6. 

9. Deep Field by Tin&Ed

Time: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. – 2 p.m., 3 p.m. – 4 p.m., 16th – 26th November

Place: ArtScience Museum, Basement 2, Rainbow Room

OrganiserArtScience Museum

Description:

Deep Field by Tin&Ed is an immersive art experience by Australian artists Tin Nguyen and Edward Cutting. The experience starts with a guided tour of the museum where participants will have a chance to design their own imaginary flora and fauna taking inspiration from the natural environment. Their creations will be added to a new ecosystem of plants revealed through the lens of Augmented Reality (AR). As participants immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the natural world, they are prompted to establish a deeper connection with and contemplate their relationship with our planet and nature.

The Deep Field by Tin&Ed workshop is free with registration. Click here for more information about Tin&Ed. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Book here to reserve a slot. 

7 Energy-saving Habits to Add to Your Everyday Life

By adopting energy-efficient practices and making conscious choices in our daily routines, we can collectively reduce the environmental impact of energy consumption while helping to secure a cleaner, greener future for our city.

cover-photo

As Singapore continues to advance technologically and economically, the demand for energy steadily rises. Although the capacity of renewable energy has expanded, fossil gas continues to be the main energy source for Singapore. Natural gas is not renewable and emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributes to climate change and global warming. 

As part of its climate pledge, Singapore plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The nation-state’s approach to reaching its target include improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions from power generation, developing low-carbon technologies, and responding through collection action. 

By adopting energy-efficient practices and making conscious choices in our daily routines, we can collectively reduce the environmental impact of energy consumption while helping to secure a cleaner, greener future for our city.

Here is a checklist to help you build good energy-saving habits:

  • Turn off lights, fans, and air conditioning when leaving a room.

  • Turn off the water heater when you’re done with your shower.

  • Switch off electrical appliances at the power socket.

Instead of leaving an appliance on standby power, switch it off at the power socket. When devices such as laptops, TVs, modems, and routers are left on, they continue to use electricity.

  • Use a fan instead of turning on the air conditioner.

Electric fans require around 30 times less electricity to operate than a standard air conditioning unit. Research shows that widespread use of fans has the potential to reduce energy demand and emissions attributed to air conditioner use by up to 70%.

  • If you must switch on the air conditioner, set it to a moderate temperature (around 25-26°C) to reduce energy consumption.

Setting the air conditioner to a moderate temperature conserves energy and helps manage electricity demand, especially during peak hours. Once the room is sufficiently cooled, switch to a fan and avoid running the air conditioner for extended periods.

  • Open your curtains during the day to maximise natural lighting and minimise the need for artificial lights.

  • Use energy-efficient appliances and consider switching to LED bulbs for lighting.

LED bulbs consume up to 25% less electricity than Compact Fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs and can last about 2.5 times longer.

Choose an energy efficient appliance with more ticks on the energy label. An appliance with fewer ticks may cost you more in electricity bills in a year.

Image courtesy of NEA

    Which eco-friendly habits are you adding to your everyday life, and which are you already doing? 

    Why is the Single-Use Bag an Environmental Villain?

    Starting from this year, 2023, major supermarkets in Singapore have started charging for disposable bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. Why is it important to get shoppers to switch from disposable bags to reusable bags? 

    cover-photo

    Starting from this year, 2023, major supermarkets in Singapore have started charging for disposable bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. Since 3 July 2023, these larger supermarkets have been required to charge at least five cents for each disposable carrier bag regardless of the material––plastic, paper, biodegradable materials, and so on. Charging for disposable bags is an effort to get the nation-state on a journey towards zero waste.

    Why is it important to get shoppers to switch from disposable bags to reusable bags? 

    Disposable products are often seen as counter to the principles of zero waste for several reasons. Disposables are designed to be used once and then discarded. They foster a culture of wastefulness and encourages the idea that resources can be used and discarded without considering their long-term environmental impact. 

    The production of disposable products depletes our natural resources, such as trees for paper products, oil for plastics, and water during the manufacturing process. On top of that, manufacturing, transportation, and the disposal of single-use products require energy, which often comes from non-renewable sources like fossil fuels. This energy use contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which drive climate change. 

    What’s more, once the product is used and disposed of, most of it ends up as landfill waste. Every year, around 200,000 metric tonnes of Singapore’s domestic waste are disposables. According to NEA, only 6% of the plastics that get tossed out in Singapore get recycled. Paper has a higher recycling rate of 37%. And biodegradable plastic bags don’t get recycled at all–– they are incinerated with the rest of our waste.

    Although the mandate applies to disposable bags of any material, plastic bags are one of the major contributors to Singapore’s domestic plastic waste. A study by the Singapore Environmental Council (SEC) found that shoppers take about 820 million plastic bags from supermarkets a year.

    Funnily (or not), plastic bags were first invented in 1959 with the intention of saving trees. They were made as an alternative to paper bags, which were causing the destruction of forests. People were encouraged to switch to plastic bags. Sten Gustag Thulin, a Swedish engineer, who designed the plastic bag, would keep one folded in his back pocket to be re-used. By the end of the 90s, plastic bags almost entirely replaced paper bags around the world. They were seen as the cheaper alternative.

    While disposables may seem cheaper upfront, they can be more expensive in the long run when we consider the environmental and societal costs. 

    Plastic disposables, for example, have been notorious for littering our landscapes, oceans, and waterways. They are lightweight and easily blown away by the wind. When plastic waste is mismanaged, they harm wildlife, disrupt ecosystems, and can persist in the environment for centuries. 

    By choosing disposables, we miss out on opportunities to promote recycling and reuse, which are key components of a zero-waste lifestyle. In contrast, the zero-waste movement encourages a shift away from disposable products and towards practices that reduce waste. Sten Gustag Thulin didn’t plan for the plastic bag to become a problem, but he did have the right idea––he carried a bag with him to be reused. So, next time you go shopping, remember to Refuse disposable bags, Reuse a bag you already have, and if you must, Recycle instead of throwing it in the trash.

    You might be interested in: Reduce Single-Use Plastics Checklist

    October Events in Singapore

    October events in Singapore that help you raise awareness, take action, connect with nature, be a part of the environmental movement, and meet like-minded people.

    cover-photo

    1. The Conscious Festival 2023

    Time: 12:00 p.m. Friday, October 13th ­– 7 p.m., Sunday, October 15th

    Place: South Beach Tower, 38 Beach Road, Singapore, 189767

    Organiser: Green is the New Black

    Description:

    The Conscious Festival 2023 is an experiential event that focuses on the future of humanity in relation to climate, technology, and environmental consciousness. Through music, art, talks, workshops, and community building, it aims to raise awareness and help people adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

    Find more details about the festival here.

    2. East Coast Beach Plan Cleanups

    Time: 9:00 a.m., Friday, October 13th; 9:00 a.m., Friday, October 20th; 9:00 a.m., Friday, October 27th

    Place: East Coast Park

    Organiser: @eastcoastbeachplan

    Description:

    The East Coast Beach Plan is a ground-up initiative for anyone interested to join or self-organise clean-ups to do their part to reduce plastic pollution from entering the ocean. Note that all sessions are ad-hoc and self-organised by interested individuals, nothing is really centrally organised. Do participate safely and at your own discretion and risk.

    Read this document before you go!

    3. Learning Forest Tour

    Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., Sunday, October 14th

    Place: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Visitor Services at Tyersall Gate

    Organiser: National Parks

    Description:

    The Learning Forest Tour features a network of boardwalks and elevated walkways that allow visitors to explore habitats ranging from a freshwater forest wetland to a lowland rainforest. Visitors can learn about freshwater forest wetland ecosystems at the Keppel Discovery Wetlands and walk amongst a collection of some of the tallest tree species in Southeast Asia at the SPH Walk of Giants

    The Learning Forest Tour is free. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the session. Limited slots are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

    3. Welcome Waders!

    Time: 9:30 a.m.­ – 13:00 p.m., Saturday, October 14th

    Place: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Visitor Centre

    Organiser: National Parks

    Description:

    Every year, millions of migratory shorebirds make an extraordinary journey from their breeding grounds in the Arctic to this part of the world. The journey is a difficult one, and many of them fall prey to hunters, predators, and storms. However, a greater threat than all these is the loss of their ancestral rest stops to development, as populations plummet in the face of starvation.

    For the shorebirds that arrive at Sungei Buloh, the reserve is a constant sanctuary in a coastline that is changing everywhere. For some, this is a chance to rest and refuel before their next stop in

    Australia. For others, the reserve is precious home until April comes by, and they are readied for the long flight north.

    Welcome Waders! is held in conjunction with World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), which falls on 14 October this year. WMBD is a biannual awareness-raising campaign that highlights the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats.

    4. Four Conversations 2023: The Clean Shift

    Time: 11:00 a.m., Saturday, October 14th – 4:30 p.m., Sunday, October 15th

    Place: The Pod, Level 16, National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street, Singapore, 188064

    Organiser: National Library Board

    Description:

    Four Conversations is an annual signature programme by the National Library where thought leaders share new possibilities for the future while inspiring lifelong learning and the creation of new knowledge.

    Embrace a paradigm shift towards sustainability and make a positive impact on our lives and society. Be empowered by our local and international speakers

    and explore new possibilities in the areas of employment, finance, human behaviour, and consumerism.

    Click here to register now!

    5. Zero • Market

    Time: 9 a.m. ­– 2 p.m., Sunday, October 15th; 9 a.m. ­– 2 p.m., Sunday, October 21st

    Place: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre, 30A Yishun Central 1, Singapore 768796

    Organiser: Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre 慈济人文青年中心

    Description:

    The Zero • Market is a sustainable lifestyle market, where fresh produce and sustainable goods are available! We are working towards Zero Waste, starting with Zero Meat and Zero Plastic (except for unavoidable plastic packaging). It takes place every 1st and 3rd Weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of the month unless otherwise stated. Visit the Zero • Market and don’t forget to bring your own bag!

    6. Ubin Mangrove Kayaking – OCBC Park

    Time: 10:00 a.m. ­– 12:00 p.m., Sunday, October 20th

    Place: OCBC Mangrove Park

    Organiser: Sea Angel

    Description:

    In support of the Restore Ubin Mangroves Initiative, Sea Angel is offering a limited run of community kayaking trips! From this immersive experience, community members will develop positive thoughts and feelings toward the mangroves and come up with questions and ideas for consideration by park designers and regulators.

    The community rate for the kayaking trip is $30/pax including a guided tour, kayak equipment, a lifejacket, and bottled water.

    The public feedback window is open till October 20th. To register for the event, please click here or contact 96775467 via WhatsApp.

    7. Cloop 3rd Year Anniversary Party

    Time: 10 a.m., Saturday, October 21st ­– 6 p.m., Sunday, October 22nd

    Place: City Sprouts Sustainability Centre 102 Henderson Road, Singapore, 159562

    Organiser: Cloop

    Description:   

    Cloop celebrates 3 years of closing the loop for fashion for good, and would like you to join the festivities! This party has a big programme lineup including swaps and a bunch of earth-friendly activities.

    Learn more about the event and purchase your ticket here.

    8. Lifestyle Market

    Time: 8 a.m. ­– 4 p.m., Saturday, October 28th

    Place: Jurong Lake Gardens, Gardenhouse

    Organiser: National Parks

    Description:   

    Hang out at BIG’s lifestyle market to discover and support local brands that offer a variety of green products. From plants to crafts, homewares to pets, there’s something for everyone!

    9. Repair Event

    Time: 10 a.m. ­– 4 p.m., Sunday, October 29th

    Place: at various locations near you (check the website for details).

    OrganiserRepair Kopitiam

    Description:

    Join the upcoming repair event to revitalise your belongings with ease. Repair Kopitiam is here to rejuvenate what you cherish, from electricals to clothes needing a fix, even those broken household items. Its experts will mend your things, reducing waste, and promoting sustainability.

    Click here to reserve a slot (Booking starts at 12 p.m., October 13th). Remember to check the sign-up conditions for your chosen time slot before coming.