President and co-founder of Green Drinks Singapore
The more we use, the more we pay. The more things we buy, the more things we need to take care of.
Tell us your story, how did you get here?
I learnt about the urgency of climate change after watching Live Earth in 2007 and started the local chapter of Green Drinks with a friend soon after. We bring together people from business, academia, government, NGOs, and members of the community to discuss environmental issues, collaborate on solutions, and share knowledge with one another in an informal setting.
As I met more environmentalists, I realised there were so many related environmental issues and people making a difference in their fields of specialisation – this had to be shared with the wider public. The team grew and over the years we ran many talks, panel discussions, networking sessions and even documentary screenings. These days, we mainly organise public and private events on local, pertinent environmental issues, and serve as an engagement platform where different stakeholders can share different viewpoints.
What impact have you made in Singapore?
Over the years, I’ve heard different types of positive feedback from participants. Some found employment, some went on to collaborate with people they met at our events, or started Green Drinks in another city (one in Thailand, another in Australia). A couple who met at our event even got married!
One event that stood out for me was a session we organised on the Cross Island Line. Two news outlets showed up that day and featured one of our speakers, a professionally trained arborist who shared his recommendations on soil investigation work. Eventually, he met up with the statutory board in charge of the project and his recommendations were implemented. Another event that’s significant for me is when we facilitated a closed-door engagement session between youth activists and the National Climate Change Secretariat. Both sides got to know each other better and got along well.
In addition, we have collated and submitted feedback from our community to relevant government agencies. We believe in achieving progress through collective effort, not just with our members, but also with fellow NGOs.
What does 2022 look like for you?
It’s a year of trying to achieve more impact in the areas of connecting people to nature and encouraging environmentally sustainable behaviour. As Singapore opens up more, I’m looking to hold more Green Drinks events, create more video content on my gardening YouTube channel, The Tender Gardener, and possibly start a new YouTube channel. In addition, I’m writing a children’s book about courage, and I hope to publish it this year. 2022 is definitely an exciting year for me and I can’t wait to see what unfolds!
What do you love most about Singapore?
I love that we’re a city in a garden and we’re surrounded by a lot of greenery all over Singapore. Aside from our three national gardens and nature reserve, there are many green spaces to visit and connect with nature.
What’s the one thing everyone can do to protect our home planet?
We can all look into cutting excessive consumption habits starting with one area of our lives: be it shopping for clothing or gadgets, food that’s thrown away, or reducing air-con, water and electricity usage. The more we use, the more we pay. The more things we buy, the more things we need to take care of.
Who is your Local Legend, and why?
John Tan Jiew Hoe, because he has contributed so much to the field of horticulture. He’s a patron of many horticulture projects around the world and has helped scientists discover more than 500 plant species. He also donates his plants to the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay. He has several plants named after him, including a begonia, syzygium and orchid, among others.