Students share ideas for a greener Singapore

More than 50 students and teachers from primary and secondary schools got together yesterday to suggest how they can play a bigger part in conserving the environment.

They raised issues ranging from the excessive use of plastic bags and the tropical city's heavy reliance on air-conditioning, to the lack of environmental awareness among Singaporeans.

The two-hour ENVision dialogue was a new element introduced to this year's School Green Awards, prompting young people to share their environmental vision for Singapore and encouraging them to become more environmentally conscious.

"People should be more aware of the amount of their water and electricity usage," said Atmaza Chathopadhyay, 13, from the Global Indian International School.

"To make us more conscious of that, we could have monitors in our homes reflecting our usage statistics."

Ms Latha Pradeep, 40, a teacher at the school, suggested incorporating environmental studies in school curricula. "How many students actually say they want to be an environmentalist when they grow up? Not many, because we don't expose them to the importance of the subject when they are young."

Gideon Loh, 14, from Queenstown Secondary, said: "It is wrong to think individual efforts do not make a difference. It is through all our little initiatives that the world becomes more environmentally friendly."

At the awards' launch yesterday, it was also announced that the environmental programme will now include students from institutes of higher learning, such as universities, polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education.

Organised by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), the awards - which are handed out on Nov 4 - reward schools for their environmental efforts such as waste management and the limiting of energy usage.

Some 327 schools participated last year and the council hopes to pass the 400 mark this year.

"The inclusion of institutes of higher learning will allow us to reach out to students from all levels," said Mr Jose Raymond, executive director of the SEC.

"This makes it more effective in educating our youth, the future leaders of our society."