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Armchair Activism: How to save the world from your bedroom

December 17, 2009

You don’t have to be Superman to save the world, because telephone booths don’t exist everywhere. What’s fantastic about being ordinary, like you and I (post-Copenhagen, that is), is that we have the power to impact the world, through our little daily actions. For starters, being an armchair activist, and saving the world without getting off your ass.

So below are some tips to get you into superhero mode:

1/ Use energy-efficient lighting
There’s compact fluorosant lights (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) for you to choose between. Or if you’re really supportive, let every day  and every hour be Earth Hour! You won’t even need to turn off the lights each time you leave the room – very calorie-saving, which means you can also eat less.

2/ Go vegan
The production of a vegetable-based diet takes up far less energy than a carnivorious / omnivorious diet. Organically-produced food is also more environmentally-friendly, seeing that it doesn’t release synthetic pesticides into the environment. Try organically-grown potatoes, cooked vegan-style (try Vegan Scalloped Potatoes), and get one-step closer to being a couch potato.

3/ Get offline
Don’t spend your 24/7 glued to your computer screen; let it hibernate when inactive for long periods. Use your time online wisely, for instance, not refreshing our blog site ( several times in an hour. We know we’ve good posts, but cool it, although we‘d like to thank you for your support.

4/ Spread the environmental message
We’d love to have guest bloggers, so send us your write-up, and if it’s coherent enough, we’d publish it. Alternatively, if you’d like to spread your eco ideology, you could start your own site just for it. Nothing beats the joy of knowing how many visitors drop by – if any at all. Or if you’re practising Point 3 and choose to remain offline, paste up some messages at your window (message-side outwards, size of paper used to be smaller than your window – to allow for light to enter, in case it slips your mind). Even including snippets of environmental issues in conversations with people help, but I’d advise you to focus on making more friends first.

5/ Enhance your knowledge
Read up on the environment – newspapers, books, magazines, off the internet. A good start would be Idiot’s Guide to The Environment (or is it The Environment For Dummies?). It’s hard to sound intelligent when you lack knowledge. Really. And even harder to be taken seriously, when you have bad grammar. Reading helps.

6/ Run a search on ‘armchair activist’
To be honest, I’m out of ideas. The environmentalist in me isn’t used to being an armchair one, and I probably am not as well-versed with armchair activism as you are. Search engines should be your best friend here, not me.

Little accumulated actions make a big difference. When you’re done with Points 1 – 6, and decide to get out of your comfy armchair (might be a little tough considering it’s already got your body shape imprinted), why not consider joining a local environmental organisation? Give that some thought, as you wriggle your way out of your seat.

And let me know.

Live from COP15
ECO Singapore

One Comment leave one →
  1. terence permalink
    December 18, 2009 2:41 pm

    Frankly, most people are really quite tired of hearing the same old mantra. I’ve got a few unconventional ones and would like to share them with you guys. Sorry it’s a little long but pls let me know what you guys think:

    1) Peak power demand
    Reduce energy use during the off-peak time of the day. Most people are unaware that power cannot be stored, merely turning off your lights and aircons will not reduce carbon emission because the power has already been generated. But does this mean we cannot do anything about it?

    First, you can download this 2009 document released by Energy Market Authority of Singapore to find out more:

    The answer is yes, we can. But very indirectly and minimally.

    Because peak power generation creates significantly more emissions than baseload generators, we can choose to actively avoid it. In Singapore, peak demand occurs 10am – 4pm on weekdays, and 11am – 12pm on saturdays and 10pm on sundays. (Don’t ask me why, but I got these figures from the EMA SOO) By avoiding using electricity during these times of the day, we will be competing less with others and putting less strain on the power generation companies to provide peak power.

    Overtime, hopefully more and more people become more time-conscious of their energy usage and grid operators can reduce peak load generation. Alternatively, we could wait for the smart grid and time-differentiated electricity pricing to improve things.

    2) There are good, there are bad and there are ugly banks around.

    Most people are aware that savings and investments grow in banks and financial managements, but sadly most are unaware of where their hard-earn money is put into.

    I will not mention any names here but a certain bank starting with the letter C is notorious for funding deforestation, mining and resource extraction projects in Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests. There are many more examples. Do your homework, find out more and actively boycott these banks forever. Find out about banks which have better reputations like active support of sustainable energy companies (e.g. starting with letter H). Keep your parents informed about your research because people should really know what their wealth is up to.

    (Special note: Be very wary of green-washing though. Don’t forget that banks have amazing PR.)

    Vote Earth with your money, and pls choose wisely.

    3) Avoid gas companies starting with the letter E

    Sorry I’m taking up too much space here. Let me know if you’re interested to know more and I’ll be more than happy to share.

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