Archive for world environment day

Do You Remember What You Did on 5 June 2007?

Hello everyone, I’m back from army reservist training. After two weeks in the sun, I’m as brown as our Carbonised bamboo flooring. :)

First, a quick apology to those who have emailed or called me.

My computer got infected with a particularly stubborn strain of virus, which in turn opened the gate for at least another 10 viruses/spyware/Trojan Horses/worms. It was a real nightmare, as they kept resurrecting after apparently being disinfected. It took many hours and 6 different anti-virus programmes, but it’s finally gotten a clean bill of health.

Then my Treo 750v succumbed to mysterious software bugs, and many calls and SMSes were either lost or disconnected. So if I didn’t respond to an email or SMS you sent, please do re-send them. Sorry for the trouble.

OK, in case you’re still wondering, 5 June was Eco Action Day 2007. This was organised by SEC and Ricoh Asia Pacific to commemorate the World Environment Day.

Since Star Bamboo is participating, I eagerly flipped through the papers to see how it went.

In the end, only 30 companies participated, falling far short of the modest target of 100 companies. What a disappointment.

So what went wrong?

The Today newspaper cited reasons such as private initiatives and first-time jitters for the poor showing.

On closer scrutiny of the article, one thing stood out:

For photocopier vendor Ricoh Asia Pacific, a co-organiser of the programme, all 60 or so staff members will leave work three hours earlier today, when all office lights and electrical appliances will be turned off. This will save about 100 kilowatt-hours, the average amount of energy in a month consumed by a one-room HDB flat.

I was surprised by how Ricoh appeared to have misunderstood the campaign.

The spirit of Eco Action Day is to raise awareness of how much energy we are wasting and encourage companies to adopt more efficient practices at work. It’s about maintaining productivity while reducing energy consumption.

It defeats the purpose if staff are getting off work early, just so they could save electricity. Wouldn’t they save more energy then by shutting down for the entire day?

For Eco Action Day 2008, I have a suggestion for participating companies: Make it measurable. Whatever is measured gets done.

That is why schools focus on exam rankings and listed companies obsess with share prices. I once drove a car which has a needle gauge monitoring the fuel consumption. Needless to say, I spent the entire journey trying to keep it as low as possible. Indeed, I spent more time looking at it than at the road situation!

If you wish to encourage your staff to save electricity, then let them know how much they are using. Better still, make it into a game.

  1. First, establish a bench mark by averaging the electricity costs for the past 6 months.
  2. Tell them the figure, and suggest ways in which they could conserve electricity.
  3. Start one month before Eco Action Day, and challenge them to save, say 25%, for that month.
  4. If they meet the target, then a portion of the cost savings goes back to them, perhaps in the form of a coffee-maker or whatever. As long as they get to choose their own prize.

The company saves money, the staff are happy, and less energy is consumed. Everyone is a winner.


World Environment Day (WED) and Why You have Probably Never Heard of It

Yesterday I helped to publicise the Eco Action Day event on 5 June, which is organised to coincide with World Environment Day (WED).

What’s WED, you ask? To be honest, I’ve never heard of it either until 3 days ago.

It is a United Nations initiated global initiative, and the first was held way back in 1972. Each year, a city will host a week-long international exposition to discuss various environmental issues.

For example, this year’s topic is “Melting Ice – A Hot Topic?” and will be focusing on climate changes and the effects on ice- and snowcovered areas of the world.

That description pretty much sums up why after more than three decades, you’d struggle to find anyone familiar with this.

  1. Lack of a permanent home: It is organised by the UN and rotated annually among different countries. I couldn’t even find an official WED web site. Instead, a new one sprouts up every year.
  2. Lack of hands-on action: The programme is dominated by conferences and discussions.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s of no use. In fact, it’s probably an excellent opportunity for academics and policy makers to exchange ideas.

But for the typical man in the street, this day will simply pass us by.

Which is why Star Bamboo supports the Eco Action Day:

  1. It is local: It is not happening in some faraway, exotic city, but right where you work.
  2. It is hands-on: It is not about attending lectures or discussions, but practical steps that you can take to reduce the amount of energy that you use.

I have two suggestions to make it even more meaningful:

Firstly, encourage participating companies to carry on beyond 5 June. Don’t just do it for a day, do it every day.

Secondly, it’s not just for the office – you can do the same at home as well.

Good luck! :)


Have you signed up for Eco Action Day yet?

The Singapore Environment Council is organising an Eco Action Day on 5 June 2007, to raise awareness of environmental issues among companies.

Not much effort is required, just a simple flick of the switch to turn off any unnecessary lighting or office equipment.

I have already signed up Star Bamboo for this programme, to show our support and commitment to reduce energy wastage. The lights for our Singapore warehouse are usually turned on whenever we step into the adjoining office. Now, we will only turn on the lights when we actually retrieve stocks from it.

It’s a simple act, but it will save us 1/3 off our lighting bills. It’s so simple that we will be practising it every day starting right now – why limit yourself to 5 June?

Although this Eco Action Day programme is meant for Singapore companies only, all overseas visitors reading this are welcome to start similar initiatives in your company.

It’s easy, it’s simple, and speaks volumes of your commitment to the environment. If you decide to join in this effort, please drop me an email to tell me all about it. I’m all ears!

OK, better sign up first because the 28 May deadline is just around the corner. Click here to register now!

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