LOL Mondays: Going Green, In Green

We’ve been sustainable in the army even before it was a thing.

By Alywin Chew        4 March 2024

I recently moved into a new home and was left with a ridiculous number of cardboard boxes and wrapping paper that wouldn’t fit into the blue recycling bins. 

The solution to this would be to simply get a karung guni or a waste disposal company to collect these recyclables. The catch? Many of them quoted me around $200 to do so.

Sounds exorbitant? Tell me about it. Besides, shouldn’t they be the ones paying me to take these things off my hands?

“We cost more because we take special care to recycle the cardboard and paper. We care about the planet!” said one salesperson proudly. 

Such hefty prices, I reckon, is why recycling is not a big thing in Singapore. It’s no surprise this is happening. Paying to have something recycled is somewhat counterintuitive. Look, it’s human nature – people don’t want to pay to save the planet. Most of us want to be rewarded to save it. 

Can you imagine scoring Gold for IPPT but having to pay $500 to the SAF?

And this reminds me – the SAF is big on sustainability too. For starters, we soldiers are literally dressed in the colour of sustainability.

Also, MINDEF and the SAF had in 2021 announced that it will take concerted measures to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to efforts to meet national targets set under the Singapore Green Plan 2030. These measures primarily involve reducing waste, carbon emissions growth and water consumption.

Come to think of it, the SAF has been a champion of sustainability since my NSF days when sustainability wasn’t even a thing.

Remember how we used to use CB leaves as toilet paper when we ran out of it outfield? That was some eco-friendly innovation right there.

Or how we recycled plastic Yakult bottles by wrapping them in blue tape and pretending they were grenades? That was a creative reuse of resources.

Powdering ourselves extensively to replace a water bath was also a great way to avoid the cold morning shower (and save water)! No wonder my Sergeant joked that I looked like a snowman in green.

And let’s not forget the meal bag, which was just a plastic bag that we put over our mess tin during lunch at the range or outfield. That saved us from using Styrofoam boxes. Maybe I should try that trick with my old mess tin when I go to the hawker centre next time. It might save me some money on those expensive plastic containers.

Fast forward to the present day, MINDEF and SAF have since done a lot of cool things to be more eco-friendly from 2022 to 2024. Let me tell you about some of them.

Going green in the Green Zone

The Green Zone is where most of our camps and training places are. The SAF has made them greener by using solar power, rainwater and LED lights. They also use biodegradable utensils and containers for food and drinks. This way, they save energy, water and resources.

This is good for the environment and for us NSmen too. We get to enjoy fresh air, natural light and greenery. We also have clean water, healthy food and nice facilities. And we feel proud to be part of a green community.

Training smarter, not harder

That’s why the SAF has been using VR and AR to make training better. VR and AR let us see and do realistic things without leaving our rooms. VR can create scenarios, weather, enemies and situations, while AR can show us info, tips and help on our helmets, goggles or screens. It can also create interactive targets, obstacles and effects that react to soldiers actions.

By using VR and AR, the SAF has been able to reduce its reliance on live ammunition, fuel and emissions. Imagine being able to drive tanks, fly jets or sail ships without burning fossil fuels or polluting the air. Imagine being able to learn new skills, tactics and strategies without boring lectures or tedious drills. Sounds like a blast, right?

Leading by example

The SAF has been actively participating in regional and international efforts to combat climate change and environmental degradation.

So, there you have it. The SAF is not only a force to be reckoned with, but also a force for good. It is not only protecting our sovereignty, but also our environment. It is not only defending our present, but also our future. As NSmen, we should be proud of the SAFs sustainability achievements and initiatives, and support them wholeheartedly. After all, we are not only soldiers, but also citizens of the world.

LOL Mondays is an ongoing series of slice-of-life stories from freelance writer and NSman Alywin Chew. Look out for the humorous tales which will be posted every first Monday of the month, to help you drive away your Monday blues!

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