Janice Tan,  
Executive, Communications

I joined the lively and exciting Office of Communications, Development and Alumni Relations (OCDAR) at Duke-NUS in 2012 as a member of the Communications team. My day usually starts with media scans for features or mentions of Duke-NUS and developments in the global and local medical and healthcare landscapes. Although the bulk of my time is spent producing Vital Science, I have recently been handed the role of co-managing the school’s social media platforms. 

Since I spend most of my time editing and looking at other people’s writings, The Insider decided to ‘turn the tables’ and invited me to contribute a piece on Earth Hour.

Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007 and has since grown into an annual global movement, observed on the last Saturday of March each year at 8:30pm local time. During this one hour, people, households, corporations, indeed entire cities, switch off their lights to save energy and pledge against energy wastage across the world. 

While the movement has been phenomenal in creating awareness and uniting the world to come together on this issue , it still seems like a pretty hollow victory. Yes, it makes headlines and produces fantastic photos but then what? The hype dies, the gloss fades and we revert back to our normal wasteful behavior. Yes, the amount of energy saved is undeniable and yes it is definitely better than nothing but what about the subsequent 364 days of the year? Fundamentally, I think the movement lacks the traction to sustain its cause. Fortunately, the organizer, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), is now encouraging individuals to take little challenges to do more for the environment.

Until we, as individuals and collectively, change our careless attitude towards this abuse of energy, the effects we face will be exponentially detrimental. Simple acts like printing unnecessarily or leaving the lights on do not amount to much individually but they all add up. In OCDAR, everyone uses their own mugs and some bring their own cutlery instead of using disposable ones. Installing solar panels to take advantage of Singapore’s abundant sunlight and using energy-saving appliances both at home and in the office also help. I believe we can be more environmentally friendly if we only bother to take the time to reflect on our lifestyles.

Personally, I seldom use plastic bags and BYOB (bags, not booze) whenever I can; and while I am also somewhat a shopaholic and fall in and out of love with clothes quickly, I should stop shopping indiscriminately as fast fashion is one of the major contributors of climate change. Similarly, eating meat is also a major contributor but becoming vegetarian is not for me so alternatives like carpooling in order to be a little more green without having to eat more greens may be more ideal for me. All in all, it’s in the little things we do that can make a difference.