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I had such a hoot when I read not just one, but two letters from two individual members of the public published separately in the The Straits Times and Today, writing about the organizers of the Formula One night race choosing to test their 3000 lux lighting system 30 minutes before the start of Earth Hour in Singapore.

Really? They did that? Oh my gosh, I didn’t even know that until I read the letters in the forum. To the two gentlemen who bothered to spend time and write in about this issue – Good for you! Way to go people!

It is heartening to know when there are others who cared about the earth enough and spoke up for it. Speak up, be heard and create change.

Quote from F1 Underground – The Singapore Grand Prix Organizers Mock Earth Hour: The lights (300 times more powerful than normal street lights) are being tested today when much of the world is turning their lights off for one hour to symbolically bring attention to the growing environmental crisis. The lights (only a fraction of the 1500 that will be used in the race) will be left in place and turned on each evening at 7 PM along with the regular street lights in Singapore for a week.

I know, I know… tourism dollars, hotel sector booms, helps the economy, etc, etc, but can we call for a little sensitivity please? For earth? 

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Read on yesterday’s copy of Today that “it will soon be compulsory for all condominiums and private apartments to have recycling facilities.” (page 10)

Yay! Way to go, this is definitely good news for me. Having recycling bins will encourage more people to not just thrash their paper and plastics. Hey, every little bit for the earth counts right?

But as I flipped on, this other article changed my mood from upbeat to down-crestedness.

The header for this NATAS Travel Fair related article (pg 48) reads – “LAST CHANCE TO SEE – Tourists Are Heading To Formerly Ignored Destinations Before Warming Weather Takes Its Toll“.

Some snippets are:

That dream vacation – diving along the Great Barrier Reeef, skiing in the Swiss Alps – could remain a dream forever if you don’t get a move on it… As global warming is rising up the world’s agenda, ecotourists are flocking to previously ignored places… It’s been called climate sightseeing, a kind of farewell tour of Earth’s greatest hits… Here’s a short list of places that are feeling the effects of global warming today – places to consider as you put to consider as you put together your travel plans…”

I don’t know what to think anymore. It’s like a “Here ye, here ye, come see before it’s gone” sort of marketing pitch to sell travel.

Hey, we should be more ashamed over the fact that this is what we, humans, did to our one and only planet that we live on and what we SHOULD AND CAN do about it.

It’s so ironical. It might as well have been – “Nature’s wonders and gifts to us will be gone soon. Time limited offer. Come see them before mankind destroys them forever.”

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Mark 29th March 2008 down on your calender for Earth Hour, where lights are turned off for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming. 

Here’s how I make Earth Hour a daily thing:

  •  I turn off and unplug all appliances that are not in use, instead of leaving them on standby-mode.
  • I turn off lights that are not in use.
  • I do not sleep with the air con on, although my husband goes along with this abit  reluctantly.
  • In public toilets, I dry my hands naturally by using only time, instead of the hand dryer. Yes, I am guilty of taking quick swipe on my pants at times and  leave wet palm prints unwittingly.
  • I take quick showers with cold water instead of using the water heater. Yes, even at night. And I’ve grown so used to it that it’s more enjoyable showering in cold water,  I feel more refreshed.
  • I stand very near a pail during my shower to capture the grey water (about 1/4 pail of water “saved” per shower,  especially from rinsing hair after shampooing), which I use for flushing my toilet bowl with a scoop. Effective enough for the yellows, I still flush for the browns though.
  • I hang dry my laundry instead of using a dryer.
  • I am trying hard not to spend too much un-necessary time surfing the internet on frivolous stuff. Need to log off and get in touch with real life.
  • I try to recycle as much as I can. 
  • I make use of the excellent public transport system in Singapore and take the buses and MRT as much as I can. I’ve boycotted cabs since the last price hike in end Dec ’07 and this is an achievement for someone who has single-handedly helped many cabby uncles raise their families in my lifetime. Okay, so I’m exaggerating abit here.
  • My mom washes her vegetables in a container (instead of running water) and keeps the water for giving dirty dishes their first rinse.  

As an additional incentive, trying to conserve as much energy and water as possible pays off in the monetary sense as well. Our monthly water & electricity bill for a family of 4 adults (with 2 being home the whole day) comes to be about S$60 monthly. My friends have told me that their average monthly bill comes to be about S$100 over monthly. The difference would translate into S$480 savings in a year. Hope this inspires you to look into creative ways that you could conserve energy too.

I think the mentality for alot of families is that they could afford to pay for their water & electricity bills so they see no need in engaging in such practices. But this is not the point anymore. Like Christina from A Thinking Stomach mentioned before, we are part of the problem and part of the solution.

Are you contributing to the problem or doing your bit? I feel sad sometimes when I think about how some can be oblivious and ignorant to the problems of this dying earth.

Inspired with other gardening bloggers who use egg shells, toilet roll innersnewspapers and plastic bottles to start seeds, I have been using recycled drinking bottles* to grow my 2 other snake bean seedlings and that’s about how far the recycling effort went in my balcony. (oh, and I use water recycled from washing rice, which my mom helps to save in a bottle, to water my plants)

Somehow, I kept thinking that items could be recycled into small pots to start seeds but I would still need to buy much bigger pots from the nursery. And was just about planning to do so as this 2 snake bean seedlings have gotten too big for their current plastic bottles.

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Other items that I am leaving out to dry for later use were ice-cream cups, tetra packs from packet drinks and containers from my Lunar New Year Yu-Sheng pack.

But that thought changed when I saw Gardening With Wilson’s blog post about this article that he wrote on the Recycling Garden found inside HortPark, where even recycled cisterns and suitcases are used to grow plants!

I made a decision there and then after reading the article. 

I will not buy pots for use in my balcony. I will use whatever recycled materials that I can get my hands on.  

Looking back, I am proud to say that in my balcony, the 2 Ikea shoe racks were given by an old neighbour before he moved and felt that they were too good to throw away. 3 large discarded ceramic pots were salvaged by  my mom and to think that I chided her then for bringing junk back. She thought that they were too good to throw away too. 

The problem with being a increasingly affluent society than our parents’ generation is that we tend to buy whatever we want simply because we can afford it and throw out whatever that we regard as old. But that is not the point. 

Wilson’s article opened my eyes to what is possible. Do not restrict yourself to the norm. With an opened mind, there were alot of “potentials” as I looked around my home. And top on my list is this…

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The detergent should be used up soon and then the 5 litre bottle is mine! Muahahaha… I just need to saw the top off and make holes at the bottom for drainage. I love the handle part too! My homeless snake beans seedlings will just have to wait till then.

And I am keeping my eyes opened for a recycled container suitable for use as a compost bin. Been surfing on composting and I definitely want to recycle our kitchen scraps.

What other recycled materials do you use for your garden? Pray tell. It’s exciting to hear about the endless possibilities.

Now I regret throwing away the old rice cooker pot when we moved. Ouch.

* Recycling is good but it’ll be even greater if we can avoid buying bottled water altogether. Avoid buying products with excessive packaging as well.

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About Me

Limited apartment space is not a deterrent to my garden dreams. I’m no green-thumb but always have alot of hope and optimism.

I’m located in Singapore, a tropical Asian country.

Comments, especially gardening tips, are greatly welcomed. Thanks for dropping by! Teresa

Stuff That I Am Attempting To Grow

Cherry Tomato
Chives
Coriander
Curled Parsley
Dill
Lemon Balm
Okra (lady's finger)
Snake Bean (yardlong bean)