Eco Action Day puts spotlight on responsible consumerism

Singapore's largest business-led environmental initiative, which calls on schools, individuals, and organisations to pledge environmental action, puts the spotlight on sustainable consumption and production this year, in line with World Environment Day.

singapore mall
A shopping mall in Singapore. The United Nations Environment Programme predicts that if current consumption and production patterns continue, three planet Earths will be needed to support life on earth. Image: tristan tan /

Eco Action Day 2015, Singapore’s largest and longest running business-led environmental initiative kicked off on Wednesday with a call for organizations and the public to pledge actions that reduce environmental impact. 

The campaign, organised by Japanese office equipment firm Ricoh, is now in its ninth year. With the slogan ‘Green the Red Dot, Join the Movement’, it aims to mobilise citizens in Singapore - popularly known as the little red dot - to adopt behavioural changes that are positive for the environment.

Last year, the initiative attracted a record number of pledges from about 180 organizations and 300 individuals. This year, it is for the first time expanding its outreach to a key segment in Singapore society - the youth - by inviting schools to participate.

Schools can now join the public and companies in pledging actions such as raising air conditioning temperatures, bringing reusable containers for takeaway meals and reducing paper use on the campaign website.

This year’s Eco Action Day, which Ricoh celebrates on 5 June every year in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) World Environment Day (WED), focuses on sustainable consumption and production.

This is in line with UNEP’s message for WED, “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care”. The UN agency noted that the world is consuming far more resources than what the planet can sustainably provide, which in turn is causing irreversible damage to many ecosystems across the world. 

UNEP estimates by 2050, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our ways of living and consumption. To prevent such an unsustainable outcome, living within the planet’s ecological boundaries is the best way to ensure a healthy future.

To address this challenge, Eco Action Day 2015 aims to encourage people to be responsible consumers - that is, choose more sustainable products, use resources more efficiently, and minimise the waste they generate.

Ricoh has also roped in partners from the government, private and civil society sectors to amplify the campaign.

These include government agencies like the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) and National Environment Agency, local non-profit Singapore Environment Council (SEC), and real estate developer Keppel Land, among others. 

Yuen Sai Kuan, director, corporate affairs division, NCCS, noted that “the choices we make every day have a direct impact on our climate”. 

Therefore, there is an urgent need for the global community to reduce its carbon footprint, he said, adding that “we hope that this year’s Eco Action Day will encourage more people in Singapore to cultivate such climate-friendly habits”.

‘Driving sustainability for our future’ is Ricoh’s new slogan for promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental activities.Eco Action Day is an initiative that demonstrates the company’s commitment to tackling climate change and raising environmental awareness.

Masayo Hada, manager, Ricoh Asia Pacific regional environmental management group

SEC, which has a long-running outreach programme for schools called the School Green Awards, added that it is encouraging students and corporate partners from its various programmes to make a pledge on Eco Action Day.

Isabella Loh, chairman, SEC, said that this would hopefully help participants “remember that each individual is responsible for protecting the environment we share.”

Singapore’s government also wants residents to adopt more eco-friendly behaviours, as outlined in its national strategy document on sustainable development, the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015. This was launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last year.

To implement the plans outlined in the document, the government will over the next five years put S$1.5 billion into getting the public to use more public transport, recycle more, and reduce energy and water use, among other goals.

Eco Action Day complements Singapore’s efforts to become a more sustainable city, said Ricoh.

Masayo Hada, manager of Ricoh Asia Pacific’s regional environmental management group, said that “‘Driving sustainability for our future’ is Ricoh’s new slogan for promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental activities.”

“Eco Action Day is an initiative that demonstrates the company’s commitment to tackling climate change and raising environmental awareness,” she added.

As part of the initiative, Ricoh Asia Pacific and Eco-Business will also be convening a panel discussion on 5 June, which will bring together senior business, government, and civil society leaders to talk about sustainable consumption and production. 

The event will focus on issues such as the factors that drive sustainable practices among businesses and consumers. Policy issues surrounding sustainable production and emerging business models such as the circular economy will also be explored. 

At the event, Ricoh will also be giving out the Eco Action Awards. This year, every pledge made by organisations will automatically qualify for the awards, which will be decided by a panel of judges from Ricoh. Awards will be given to the most creative, inspiring and fun pledges, among others. 

Eco Action Day is also a carbon neutral campaign. All carbon emissions generated by the event and its activities will be offset through CarbonStory, a Singapore crowd-funding platform for climate change mitigation projects around the world.

Tan Wee Hock, director, 3P division, National Environment Agency, observed that in recent years, companies are prioritising corporate environmental responsibility by integrating sustainable practices into their operations and promoting CSR in the wider community.

“We hope to see more corporations like Ricoh supporting these sustainability outcomes outlined in our Singapore Sustainability Blueprint 2015,” he added.

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