Be the wave of change this World Ocean Day

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Be the wave of change this World Ocean Day

Oceans play a vital role in supporting life on Earth. In addition to serving as an important source of food for billions of people around the world, they are instrumental in contributing to the air we breathe! Covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean produces over half of the world’s oxygen and absorbs 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere, which is critical in our fight against climate change. What’s more, oceans also help in regulating temperature on Earth given that 98% of the heat from sun rays are absorbed by these massive water bodies.

In recent times, however, human activities have led to the pollution of these enormous water basins. According to the National Geographic, there are more than five trillion pieces of plastic floating in our oceans. That’s a massive amount of waste choking our seas, making it unsafe for sea creatures to live and thrive in. The Sea Turtle Conservancy estimates that over a million marine animals such as fish, dolphins, sharks, turtles and birds, have died each year due to plastic debris in the ocean.

As we celebrate World Ocean Day today (8 June), let us all be more mindful in how we can contribute to keep our oceans clear, blue and sparkling. In this blogpost, we share some day-to-day green habits that you can cultivate to play your part!

1. Educating ourselves on ocean life

Knowledge is power! The very first tip we have is to educate ourselves on the wonders of the ocean and the rich biodiversity it is home to. By doing so, it offers us an intimate perspective of this wonderous ecosystem while understanding the role we play in saving it.

From books to documentaries, dive into some of the resources available right at our fingertips! Some of our favourites include Mission Blue that takes a fascinating look into the life and work of famed oceanographer and marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earl, and Our Planet – Coastal Seas, narrated by none other than Sir David Attenborough.

Or, if you’d prefer a more local touch, check out this documentary by Channel NewsAsia that explores the rich population of marine life in our Singapore waters. Keep your eye out for the many rare and endangered species of seahorses, sharks and sea turtles and be enchanted by the vibrant coral life found in our local waters. With over 250 species of hard corals found in Singapore’s seas out of over 500 species within the region, this is a film that you don’t want to miss!

2. Organise a beach clean-up day

How often have you found yourself being confronted by a trail of trash lining the otherwise pristine beach? According to a study, it was found that 48% of marine debris originated from onshore sources such as litter – an awful lot of pollution stemming from our coastal activities. Besides being unsightly, these rubbish could end up in our oceans and cause devastating impacts to our marine ecosystem.

In addition, it is estimated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), that 80% of the trash found in the ocean is made up of plastic. This is especially harmful as plastic will break up into smaller pieces to become microplastics that may be ingested by small sea creatures, enter the food chain, and eventually reach our plates as seafood.

Ultimately, it’s up to us to break this cycle. Besides reducing the use of plastics, you can also do your part for the deep blue by organising your very own beach clean-up day. With each small piece of trash picked up and properly disposed, you’re preventing it from getting swept or blown into the ocean.

Organising a beach clean-up is easy – simply bring along a recyclable trash bag, some biodegradable protective gloves and a pair of tongs. Make this a weekly affair with the family by heading down to the beach to enjoy the lovely breeze and beautiful sunset while doing your part for the environment as well! In addition to being a fun bonding activity for the entire family, beach clean-ups also serve as great learning opportunities for both the young and old. As you observe the number of plastic bags, cigarette butts and even the occasional toothbrush being picked up, it forces us to think about the impact our actions have on our everyday habitats.

3. Eliminating the use of harmful products

Did you know? You could be polluting our oceans even from your home! For many personal care and beauty products, they contain marine-toxic ingredients that often find their way into our oceans when they are washed down our sinks or drains. One particularly dangerous ingredient is microplastics that is commonly found in exfoliating skincare products.

Another innocuous item that is bad for our ocean are laundry detergents, that typically contain many man-made chemicals. When washed into the ocean, the chemicals in these products reacts with the ocean water and could potentially ruin the marine ecosystem. For other detergents containing surface-active ingredients that are often touted for “lifting stains” off clothing, these are also extremely dangerous to aquatic life as they break down the mucus layer that protects fishes from parasites and bacteria.

Sounds frightening? You can do your part by choosing products that are made with all natural ingredients but equally effective. With the sustainability gaining momentum in Singapore, there are a ton of local brands that are offering eco-friendly choices. Check them out at Your Sustainable Store, The Sustainability Project and The Social Space!

4. Shop wisely with sustainable seafood

While you’d have probably heard the phrase “there are plenty more fishes in the sea” before, the fact of the matter is that, there isn’t. Not in the context of actual fishes, that is. According to the World Bank, almost 90% of our global marine fish stocks are exploited or overfished.

With the world’s appetite for seafood showing no signs of slowing down, it is fuelling the growth of unsustainable fishing methods such as bottom trawling and longlining. Often, these methods of fishing are very destructive for the marine ecosystem as they destroy reefs and result in numerous by-catches such as turtles and dolphins. In Southeast Asia, it is estimated that for every kilogram of fishes we get from trawling, 1.43kg of accidentally caught fish and other sea creatures are thrown back into the ocean.

But, while we understand that it might be hard to give up seafood completely, there are little steps that you can take to incorporate more sustainable choices in your life. For instance, keep an eye out for internationally recognised eco-labels such as from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) that indicate seafood that are derived from sustainable fishing methods. Alternatively, given that many of us purchase our seafood from local stalls at wet markets – which often do not have such certifications due to cost of implementation – you can check out this comprehensive list prepared by WWF that details how sustainable most of our well-loved seafood are!

If you prefer dining out instead, there are plenty of choices as well! Check out Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong, that offers a ‘farm-to-table’ concept where their fresh seafood is harvested daily from their local farm, as well as the restaurants under Grand Hyatt Singapore that are all certified with an international eco-friendly label.

While the above tips may sound small, if each of us were to make these small ripples of change in our lifestyles, together we can create big waves and make a collective difference in conserving our ocean. So, do practice and share these little nuggets of wisdom with your family and friends!

Together, let’s #PowerTheChange to protect our deep blue for future generations to enjoy and delight in!

Eco- and kid-friendly outdoor activities to try this June holidays

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Eco- and kid-friendly outdoor activities to try this June holidays

As we make plans to recharge and rejuvenate with our children this June school holidays, why not take the chance to inculcate an eco-friendly mindset amongst our young ones? With the three key environmental dates this month – World Environment Day, World Ocean Day, and World Rainforest Day – June is a special month and a timely reminder for us to protect our Mother Earth.

With the minimal Covid-19 restrictions this mid-year break, check out the abundance of outdoor nature activities available across our sunny island that are great to educate the kids on the importance of our natural environment while promising great fun at the same time! In addition, heading outdoors also provides a range of benefits including improved overall health and wellness and stress reduction while serving as valuable bonding time together with the entire family. What’s more, introducing kids to our great outdoors can also help them cultivate an appreciation for nature!

With the many fun things to do, there’s no worrying about keeping the kids thoroughly entertained. In today’s blog post, we introduce some of the best outdoor family activities to check out for an excitement-filled month:

1. Discover activities on Seek Sophie

Dive into the myriad of family-friendly activities available on Seek Sophie, a platform that connects individuals with unique experiences run by small local businesses. This June holidays, Seek Sophie has put together an array of adventures that promises great fun for both the young and old, ensuring that you and your little ones can spend precious time bonding.

One of our favourite activities would be the intertidal walk to discover marine biodiversity including hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, swimmer crabs and sand dollars. Have a whale of a time traversing the muddy terrains and getting your feet wet while learning fascinating facts about these amazing creatures! Or, if you’d prefer to take a step further and play your part in conserving the habitat, sign up for the Marine Scientist Day Camp instead, which includes a beach clean-up session. This 4-hour camp also features a squid dissection class – perfect for the curious young minds.

Looking for an activity to burn off your kids’ endless energy? Check out this nature-themed playscape for an afternoon of fun! Suitable for kids as young as two years old, this immersive outdoor space is anchored on the four pillars of movement, investigation, creation and bravery, to suit the interests of every child. With activities such as an obstacle course, fishing in a longkang (Chinese dialect for drain) and painting with mud, enjoy limitless possibilities for adventurous play and exploration while educating our young ones on the joys of connecting with the natural world.

The best part about Seek Sophie? The team offsets carbon emissions of all experiences booked on the platform, ensuring that you have carbon-neutral fun! Since 2018, more than a million tonnes of carbon have been offset by the platform, leaving a positive footprint on both the local communities and the environment.

2. Exploring Singapore’s water bodies through kayaking

If you’re up for some water sports, check out Singapore Sports Hub’s Water Sports Centre where you can rent a kayak and enjoy the city’s iconic skyline from the Kallang Basin while soaking in some vitamin D. If you’re lucky, you may even spot the family of resident otters who call the area their home!

New to kayaking? Not to worry! Join the Kayak Orientation Programme to get familiar with the activity and even learn some tips and tricks on manoeuvring your kayak. Not forgetting our experienced paddlers, Water Sports Centre also provides Kayak 1 and 2 Star Personal Skill Awards for those looking to get certified in kayaking.

For those who prefer a more rugged experience in nature, check out Lower Seletar Water Sports Centre, which offers kayak rentals. Take an idyllic trip down the peaceful reservoir and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature. You may even catch a sight of the majestic White-bellied sea eagle, Peacock bass or the Collared Kingfisher! There’s no better way to experience the best of Singapore’s nature. Just note that adult supervision is required for children younger than 13 for a safe experience!

3. Picking up a new roller blading skill

Take advantage of the many park connectors and smooth terrain in Singapore by lacing up those rollerblades and gliding around our island home. Though Singapore may be small, the lush greenery around us makes it a wonderful natural playground and a haven for people of all ages.

To bring your rollerblading experience to the next level, head out to the various green spaces in Singapore, including Sembawang Park where you can enjoy the sea breeze and tranquil sights along the sea. If you’re up to explore the north-eastern area of Singapore, check out the North Eastern Riverine Loop which is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Glide along the 24km-long scenic trail and you may even spot some unique native biodiversity along the way! For the best experience, we’d recommend heading to these parks in the evenings where you can catch the breath-taking sunset while soaking in the best of nature Singapore has to offer.

While this activity requires some practice, what better time than this month-long holiday to pick up a new skill? Many places in Singapore, such as Skateline and SkateXtreme offer lessons suited for various levels .You can be sure that you and your little ones will be roller-blading around independently in no time.

4. Ziplining down Singapore’s largest Treetop Obstacle Course

For an unforgettable day out, check out Forest Adventure – Singapore’s largest treetop adventure park at Bedok Reservoir! Immerse yourself in some adrenaline-pumping fun with courses of varying difficulties that are perfect for all ages. From navigating through bridges suspended on skinny logs to swinging mid-air Tarzan-style amidst the foliage, it’s promised to be an exhilarating experience for the entire family! Not to worry if you’re a first-timer – Forest Adventure is staffed by super friendly instructors who are always ready to offer some tips as you manoeuvre each obstacle.

Up there in the tree canopies, you can almost mute out the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the calming sounds of nature to enjoy the breath-taking view of the reservoir fully.

And there you have it! Four of our best recommendations as you make plans with your family this June holidays. As we enjoy the great outdoors and bond with our loved ones, let’s remember to be mindful and conserve our environment by leaving nothing but footprints at each location.

Together, we can #PowerTheChange for a greener tomorrow!