Buy just enough oranges, bak kwa for CNY to reduce food waste: Grace Fu

Shoppers queueing at bak kwa shop Lim Chee Guan in Chinatown on Dec 26, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - People in Singapore can help reduce food waste by buying only the mandarin oranges, cookies and bak kwa that they need for Chinese New Year, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said on Saturday.

She made this call before an audience of around 80 scouts as she launched the Scout Association’s 2023 Diamond Jubilee Challenge, which focuses on the environment this year.

The youth-led initiative, which is in its second year, will end in 2025 in conjunction with Singapore’s 60 years of nationhood.

By then, more than 12,500 scouts will be ready to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which have been incorporated into the challenge.

Ms Fu said: “When we collectively adopt sustainable habits, such as bringing our own bags and containers, conserving electricity and water, and taking public transport, it can help reduce our national carbon footprint.

“Individual actions can even influence companies. If we demand products with less packaging or choose energy-efficient appliances, companies will start to adopt greener and more sustainable products and solutions.”

In a dialogue with the scouts at the event, Ms Fu noted that the challenge is timely, with Singapore in 2022 raising its climate ambition to hit net-zero emissions by 2050.

As part of 2023’s challenge, scouts will embark on learning journeys or community activities related to the environment in every quarter.

In support of the Steward Pillar of the year-long Forward Singapore exercise, the scouts will also be submitting a Green Nation Pledge to commit to making Singapore a green, liveable and climate-resilient nation.

Among those participating in the challenge is Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Elvin Kong, who hopes to make thrifting – the act of shopping second-hand – a culture in his school and for other scouts.

The final-year automation and mechatronic systems student said: “In polytechnic, we tend to have to dress up when we come to school, so many of us have to go out and buy shirts.

“But some of my schoolmates and I realised in 2022 that maybe this trend will lead to us throwing a lot of shirts away, so with thrifting becoming more common, I think schools can promote this initiative.”

In the next few months, Mr Kong and a few of his peers will be organising an exchange for his peers to trade clothes, he said.

The 20-year-old also hopes to hold a similar activity for scouts to recycle their uniforms.

(From left) Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, Singapore Scout Association (SSA) vice-president Ngien Hoon Ping and SSA chief commissioner Desmond Chong launching the 2023 Diamond Jubilee Challenge. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Meanwhile, fellow scout Mellina Mohamad Noor, 21, is planning to take bigger steps towards encouraging others to cut down on food waste, a cause that struck her during a trip to rural areas in Vietnam as a secondary school student.

The second-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic early childhood development and education student said: “Most of the scout students only know that we throw a lot of trash, but they do not know what kind of trash is being thrown.”

“So when I introduce the topic of food waste, they realise that we shouldn’t waste food, that we should buy only what we can finish.”

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