Ho Xiang Tian, 25, is the co-founder of the environmental group LepakInSG. They raise awareness about local environmental issues and advocate for conservation by running workshops and guided nature guides to help educate the public about the rich biodiversity within Singapore. He shared some thoughts about the lessons he has learned from his experience.
1. The Singaporean context is key
Learning how things are done in other countries can inspire us to come up with new ways of doing things. But everything should ultimately be adapted to the Singaporean context.
To understand our own climate means we can tackle issues with more nuance. For example, biodegradables, which will decompose in a landfill, are used in many countries as an environmentally friendly alternative to plastics.
However, in Singapore, all waste is incinerated. This makes plastics ironically the lowest environmental problem among all disposables.
If we adopted the same practices overseas, our conservation efforts might not be as effective as they could be. Therefore, knowing what conservation efforts are implemented elsewhere is important, but knowing the reasons and rationale of them are crucial too.
Youth X Sustainability event.
PHOTO CREDIT: HO XIANG TIAN
2. Talk to people working on similar issues
I learn more from informal interactions with others working on different environmental issues than I do from formal channels like talks and workshops. Their rich experience of working on these issues cannot be easily learnt from a formal setting.
These interactions help form a community of like minded individuals, which supports each other in every way possible — after all, we are after similar goals.
3. Build community – It is hard to accomplish things alone
There are too many things to do and learn, and it is impossible for one person to do and learn everything.
A community can also help support you when times are tough, helping to bear the weight and stress of the job.
Without a team at LepakInSG, who support me not only as a founder but as a friend, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything over the years.
4. Don’t be shy about asking questions
Ask when you don’t know something.
You might look foolish for a moment, but if you don’t ask, you’ll remain foolish.
What I find personally helpful is writing down pointers so I form coherent thoughts when asking questions.
5. Learn to enjoy yourself
Meaningful tasks that are enjoyable aren’t easy to keep up with. Find enjoyment in processes so you don’t burn out.
Running the LepakInSG calendar is necessary but unenjoyable, so I make up for it by “rewarding” myself with other tasks within LepakInSG, like running workshops and events.