3 Lesser-known facts about Singapore’s “Garden City” vision

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3 Lesser-known facts about Singapore’s “Garden City” vision

As one of the greenest cities in the world, Singapore is often known as the “Garden City” – a unique urban city with plenty of greenery from shores to streets.

Much of this commitment to developing green spaces stemmed from the famous Garden City Movement – the brainchild of Singapore’s late founding father Mr. Lee Kuan Yew during the early days of independence.

How did Singapore grew to become the lush urban city it is today? Here are 3 lesser-known facts behind Singapore’s Garden City movement that you may not have known:

Fact #1 – The roots of the Garden City Vision can be traced back to pre-independence

While many may have thought that Singapore’s Garden City initiative started during the post-independence nation-building days, did you know that in fact, it started two years before independence in 1963? Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the then-Prime Minister of Singapore, launched the first Tree-Planting campaign in Clementi and even planted the first tree himself – a Pink Mempat, known for its beautiful cherry blossom-like flowers. Anchored by the belief that an “urban jungle of concrete destroys the human spirit”, he set out with the mission to fill the country with an abundance of greenery to lift the spirits of Singaporeans.

Post-independence, Mr. Lee then unveiled the Garden City Vision in 1967 to continue Singapore’s transformation into an island of lush greenery. The initial phase was characterised by an active tree-planting programme, with the number of trees increasing from 158,600 in 1974 to 1.4 million in 2014.

On top of these efforts, Mr. Lee also introduced an annual Tree Planting Day on the first Sunday of every November to continuously beautify Singapore and maintain the green spaces of our cityscape. This practice has continued to endure to this very day and has even been expanded by our National Parks Board (NParks) as one of the key initiatives in the Singapore Green Plan 2030, the OneMillionTrees Movement, which aims to plant one million trees across the island by 2030.

Geneco is proud to be part of NParks’ OneMillionTrees Movement, with our commitment to plant 250 trees over five years. This year, we are also pledging to plant an additional 150 trees on World Ozone Day (16 September) as part of our Geneco x Garden City Fund fundraising initiative on Giving.sg. Join us as we raise funds for this movement, and we will be matching your contribution dollar-for-dollar with 100% of the money raised to go towards this initiative!

Fact #2 – Growing the green spaces around us meant building more than 300 parks!

In the 1970s, Singapore sought to expand our green spaces beyond planting trees around our infrastructure. An additional focus was added to the Garden City Movement and includes cleaning up our streets and developing parks to allow Singaporeans to get in touch with nature or simply spend time in nature with their family.

Besides serving as recreational spaces, these parks were also the “green lungs” nestled amongst our city environment, providing clean, fresh air for everyone. From 1975 to 2014, the number of parks in Singapore increased from 13 to 330, greatly expanding the green spaces around our homes and workplaces. As Singapore grew the green spaces around existing infrastructure, green corridors and park connectors were also developed, linking the various parks to form continuous green spaces.

In addition, nature reserves were set up to serve as safe havens for flora and fauna while allowing Singaporeans to enjoy our rich natural heritage. In recent years, the return of otters to our waters and exotic migratory birds are a testament to how far we have come as a city living in harmony with nature.

With the announcement of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, one of the key focus is to continue to nurture a City in Nature. This includes doubling the annual tree planting rate and adding 1000 hectares of green spaces by 2035, which will contribute significantly to creating a green, liveable and sustainable home for Singaporeans.

Fact #3 – We started growing our green spaces up since 2008

Because of land scarcity and an increasing population, there were challenges to continue growing the green spaces through parks and trees on the ground. Singapore decided that the solution was to look up! With a notable shift towards biophilia, our city began to incorporate sky-rise greenery into the design of our buildings.

In 2008, Green Buildings were made mandatory where all new developments must include flora, in the form of green roofs, cascading gardens, and verdant walls. The Pinnacle@Duxton, the tallest public housing development in the world, connects all seven 50-storey buildings with gardens on the 26th and 50th floors, allowing residents to draw close to nature even when high above the ground.

Our iconic supertrees at Gardens by the Bay also demonstrate the synergy between technology and nature. 18 supertrees varying from 25 to 50 meters in height act as cooling ducts for nearby conservatories, and collect rainwater. 11 of them also have solar photovoltaic systems to convert sunlight into energy.

Another example of this synergy is the CapitaSpring – one of the tallest buildings in the Central Business District (CBD) in Singapore. Standing at 51-storey high and 280 metres tall, this visually striking biophilic skyscraper is home to more than 80,000 plants from over 130 species, of which, more than 63 per cent are native plants. Best of all, the public can access these green features, including the Green Oasis, a mid-air botanical promenade, which spirals from Levels 17 to 20 and is home to over 38,000 plants from 70 species.

And there you have it, 3 lesser-known facts about Singapore’s “Garden City” Vision. Singapore has indeed flourished as a Green City because of these eco-conscious key initiatives that are rolled out with clear stewardship. To ensure a greener Singapore for our future generations, our job is far from done. Let’s continue to inculcate a go green mindset, one that involves making small changes in our daily lives and cultivating an appreciation for the beautiful greenery surrounding us. It is only by adopting a conscious awareness of a sustainable lifestyle that will ensure our City in Nature will thrive for many generations to come.

Now that you are empowered with the 3 facts of Singapore’s “Garden City” Vision, head over to our Geneco Facebook page or Instagram account where we are currently hosting a contest giveaway! Simply answer this question “What year was the Garden City Vision unveiled by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew?” and you could be one of the 10 lucky winners to walk away with a $50 FairPrice e-voucher and an exclusive Geneco Green Starter Kit!

Let’s continue to #PowerTheChange and build a sustainable Singapore together.

Because green is more than a colour.

It is our future.

Make a difference this Plastic Free July with these local brands

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Make a difference this Plastic Free July with these local brands

Did you know? For a small city like Singapore, we use a whooping amount of plastic – 1.76 billion annually to be exact. This is unsurprising given the prevalence of single-use plastics in our everyday lives, which include items such as plastic bags, PET bottles and takeaway plastic containers.

The consequences of such plastic waste are far-reaching. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), it is estimated that a garbage truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into the oceans every minute, killing marine life and even ending up in our meals as microplastics.

Plastic Free July is a timely reminder that each of us can be part of the solution by making a conscious choice. As Singapore continues to take steps towards a greener future, many brands across our island are offering incentives for customers who bring their own reusable bags or containers when dapaoing food or having coffee on-the-go. At these local brands, you may even get some discounts! Read on to find out more:

1. Nylon Coffee Roasters

Since its establishment in 2012, Nylon Coffee Roasters has been anchored on the belief of building sustainable, traceable and transparent relationships across its coffee chain. Located in a quaint spot at the heart of Singapore, the brand serves delightful cups of coffee from beans sourced from the origin and lovingly roasted daily in-house.

In addition to its sustainable sourcing practices, Nylon also prides itself in its day-to-day eco-friendly movement, particularly by reducing single-use coffee cups. By bringing along your own reusable tumblers when purchasing your takeaway coffee, you can get to enjoy 30 cents off your cup of joe! Fret not if you do not own a cute coffee mug yet – Nylon is well-stocked with mugs of various designs, including this colourful mug that we really love! With its double wall vacuum insulation, your coffee will be kept at the right temperature as you sip it throughout your morning meetings.

Image Credits: Nylon Coffee Roasters

What’s more, as part of its eco ethos, Nylon also offers used coffee grounds should you be looking for some enriching nutrients for composting endeavours. Preloved coffee jute bags are available in-store too upon request if you’re looking for them for any of your upcycling projects. Psst, these sturdy bags are perfect for any beach clean-up activities you have in mind as well – a great alternative to plastic garbage bags!

2. Bettr Coffee Bar

For the coffee connoisseurs amongst us, you definitely have to check out Bettr Coffee Company, a homegrown coffee company that offers professional coffee education and speciality coffee products. With two retail bars located at the Ministry of Social & Family Development and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, the brand serves sustainably sourced coffee to the community with each coffee bar largely staffed by certified students and graduates to allow them to gain skills and experience. With every purchase from these coffee bars, it also goes towards supporting Bettr Coffee’s social programme for marginalised women and youth at risk.

And it doesn’t stop there! Committed to igniting change to the environment, Bettr Coffee also has several initiatives in place to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint. These include going straw-free and giving 30 cents off drinks for customers who bring their own reusable cups in the effort to reduce plastic waste! With every KeepCup purchased from Bettr, you can also look forward to being rewarded with a free drink.

Going a step further, Bettr also repurposes its used coffee grounds by upcycling them to give these food waste a new lease of life! These coffee grounds have been successfully upcycled into coffee-based tables in partnership with A1 Environment, and also turned into compost at Khoo Teck Puat Hospitals’ rooftop farm – now that’s the mark of a true circular economy!

3. Back to Basic Living

Experience the slow life and bring your picnic mats along when you dine at Back2Basic Micro Vegan Restaurant. Located along a wide grass patch at Buona Vista, Back2Basic offers the option for customers to immerse themselves in nature while enjoying delicious food and basking under the warmth of the sun. The restaurant features a comprehensive menu, which includes organic coffee, organic vegan desserts and even food for your fur kids – there’s something for everyone!

If you’re considering having your meal to go (though we’d really encourage you to dine in and enjoy the outdoor view!), do remember to bring along your reusable container. Not only will you be saving the environment, you will also be rewarded with a 10% discount – talk about a win-win! What’s more, as part of the brand’s commitment in advocating for zero waste, enjoy a cup of piping hot coffee on the house when you drop off your glass or plastic items for upcycling. Doing our part for Mother Nature by reducing waste sent to the landfills has never been so rewarding!

Image Credits: Back 2 Basic by JC Cheng

4. NomvNom

Established in 2015, NomvNom puts a refreshing vegan spin on modern fast-food options like burgers, pizzas and pastas, in its mission to contribute to the sustainability movement by promoting a plant-based diet. With the promise to ensure the utmost quality of its food, the brand is committed to using premium ingredients to tantalise the tastebuds of both vegans and non-vegans alike, serving up handmade wholesome burger buns and patties, delectable straight-cut truffle fries, and hearty soups thick with goodness.

Image Credits: NomvNom

With its meals easily consumed on-the-go, NomvNom highly encourages customers to BYO containers to reduce the need for any single-use plastics and earn a 10% discount! As part of its dedication to make a difference for the environment, the brand also invests in disposable cups and containers made with recycled materials to minimise the strain on the earth’s finite resources and operates on a no-straw policy.

So, are you ready to take on the challenge of going plastic-free (or even just using less plastic) this Plastic Free July? Remember, embarking on a more sustainable lifestyle does not mean enacting a 180-degrees change overnight! By adopting the mindset of gradual but continuous effort, it will all add up to a considerable difference overtime.

Psst, to help you get a head start on your green journey, do pop over to our Geneco Facebook page or Instagram account where we’re currently hosting a Plastic Free July giveaway! Simply name one of the four brands mentioned in this blog that offers a discount when you BYO and you could be one of the 10 lucky winners to walk away with a $50 FairPrice e-voucher and an exclusive Geneco Green Starter Kit!

What’s more, in celebration of our nation’s 57th birthday, we would like to invite you to join our #GreenDiscoverSG initiative.

As we do our part to reduce plastic waste for a greener future, take the chance to look around us. Who knows, you may discover an amazing green space that is unimaginably found in Singapore and if you do, capture a photo of it and share with us. You might stand to win up to $1,500 cash and FREE 1-year electricity with Power Eco Add-on worth $1,250.

Let’s continue to #PowerTheChange and build a sustainable Singapore together.

Because green is more than a colour.

It is our future.

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!

4 Activities not to be missed during Festival of Biodiversity 2022

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4 Activities not to be missed during Festival of Biodiversity 2022

Despite the highly urbanised nature of Singapore, our little red dot is home to a myriad of wildlife across various habitats such as tropical rainforests, freshwater lakes, and mangroves. According to NParks, we share our island with over 40,000 species of flora and fauna, including our renowned Bougainvillea, the critically endangered Sunda Pangolin, and our all-time favourite families of otters.

This May, in conjunction with International Biodiversity Day, why not head down to the annual Festival of Biodiversity at Botanic Gardens’ Botany Centre to celebrate Singapore’s rich natural heritage! Organised by National Parks Board (NParks), this year’s hybrid event brings together several biodiversity-related interest groups and non-governmental organisations who will be setting up booths to educate participants on the importance of conserving our wildlife while promising a fun day out for the entire family. Over the following weeks, do also look out for exciting activities that you don’t want to miss!

Here are some of these fun programmes that we’ve shortlisted which are perfect for both the young and old as you discover the beauty of our City in Nature:

1. Outdoor Activities and Workshops

If you’re someone with a green thumb or is interested in gardening, the Sapling Protection Action workshop at Kranji Coastal Nature Park would be for you. Held within the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, be part of this exciting coastal restoration plan that aims to enhance the surrounding habitat through caring for young saplings! From removing competing vegetation to tying stakes to support the saplings as they strengthen their trunks, these little actions all go a long way towards ensuring that these baby saplings grow to become the life-giving trees of tomorrow. Sign up for a spot here and make a difference in Singapore’s greening journey!

Another interesting workshop you can consider is “Discovering Ubin Living Lab with Leave No TraceTM” which seeks to educate participants to make better decisions outdoors and minimise any unnecessary human impact. Through this half-day workshop, you will be taught the Leave No Trace’s set of seven internationally recognised outdoor ethics principles and gain low-impact outdoor skills to prevent unintended damage to our environment. By understanding the impacts of different recreational activities, you’ll have a better idea on how to enjoy your next outdoor event responsibly!

2. Walks and Tours

Immerse yourself in our local green spaces through these engaging walks and tours organised by NParks. Accompanied by experienced guides, learn more about Singapore’s vast and fascinating biodiversity scene through different activities and discover the various natural hidden gems on our sunny island!

For history buffs, the Rustic Reflection Tour would be perfect for you as it journeys through Pulau Ubin’s cultural, economic, and natural history. Through this 2.5-kilometre walk, soak in the island’s kampung heritage, rediscover historical landmarks and visit vital wildlife habitats that have defined life in Singapore’s last-standing village. In addition to visiting the rubber plantation that once supplied Singapore with latex, you will even have the chance to peek into the island’s former headman’s property and tour a restored Chinese kampung house to have a sense of how life was on Pulau Ubin!

Or, if you’ve always been curious about orchid hybridisation, how about checking out the “Race Against Time – Science behind a Botanic Garden Tour” to learn about Botanic Garden’s orchid hybridisation programme. Introduced back in the 1930s by Professor R.E Holttum, this hybridisation breeding process has become a mainstay at Botanic Gardens and plays a crucial role in shaping Singapore’s diplomacy efforts. What’s more, take an insider look into the research facilities at the national garden during this 45-minute tour, including the Library of Botany & Horticulture, Orchid & Micropropagation laboratory and the Herbarium where you can view physical records of reference plant materials from as far back as 1790!

Not to worry if none of the above options tickles your fancy. There are also tours exploring the Chek Jawa mangrove, an Orchid Garden tour, and a guided walk through the Gallop Extension of the Botanic Gardens – something for everyone! Check out the  full list of tours here.

3. Online Activities

For those who prefer the comfort of home, look out for the various educational workshops held online that aim to spur our kids’ interest and love for biodiversity.

Listen to the story of Roly Poly, the shy pangolin and be captivated by his series of delightful adventures as he discovers the world. Narrated by Moonbeam Award author and storyteller,- Wei Ting, get lost in the rhyme and rhythm of this fascinating tale with your family and leave the session with valuable takeaways on how to better conserve our flora and fauna.

For our little ones who prefer a more hands-on experience, sign up for “The ABCs of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve” workshop that offers craftwork and mini quizzes in addition to storytelling. Learn more about one of Singapore’s most popular nature reserves and uncover the amazing rainforest biodiversity found within. As the largest primary forest in Singapore, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is home to a high percentage of our nation’s natural wildlife, including the Seraya tree, which is believed to be more than 150 years old!

4. Stay-home Crafts

Not ready for the fun to end after these workshops and activities? Download the series of crafts made available by NParks here as you further nurture your child’s love for our planet Earth. From unique colouring sheets to fingerprint painting activity guides, these crafts serve as great bonding activities for the entire family while introducing our children to our local biodiversity.

So, what are you waiting for? Head over to the Festival of Biodiversity 2022 and check out the entire range of activities that they have ongoing! As most of the activities are on a first-come-first-serve basis, remember to book a slot if you’re interested!

Together, let’s #PowerTheChange by appreciating and protecting our natural heritage for our future generations to enjoy.

4 Places in Singapore to catch a glimpse of Migratory Birds

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4 Places in Singapore to catch a glimpse of Migratory Birds

Birds form a big part of our biodiversity and ecosystem here in Singapore with over 300 native bird species. Each year, the country also sees a wide range of birds passing through during migratory seasons, a spectacular sight for the growing community of birdwatchers (otherwise known as birders) in Singapore.

Last year, there was also an increase in the number of rare birds sighted in the country with 12 never-seen-before birds. According to experts, the doubling of this figure could be attributed to the change in migratory patterns, climate change, or simply because there are more birdwatchers since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In line with World Migratory Birds Day that falls annually 14 May, we’ve rounded up the various places that offer the best spots to observe our transient visitors. Do keep this article handy during Singapore’s migratory bird season between September to April!

1. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Recognised as a site of international importance for migratory birds, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve was been awarded by the Wetlands International in 2002, marking the reserve’s formal entry into the East Asian Australasian Shorebird Site Network. Since then, Sungei Buloh has expanded to include a wider area of mangroves, mudflats, ponds, and forests, providing an even greater sanctuary for the rich biodiversity it supports. With a myriad of migratory birds at the reserve, this is one location that you simply cannot skip in your birdwatching adventure!

One of the most common birds you can spot at the reserve is the Common Redshank, otherwise known by its scientific name Tringa Totanus. Characterised by their distinctive bright orange-red legs and relatively long stout bill, these medium-sized grey-brown birds are a common sight at the reserve between August and April. These birds come a long way from Russian Far East, Mongolia, and China and are often one of the first arrivals in Singapore, with sightings on our sunny island from early July.

Besides the Common Redshank, do also keep your eyes peeled for the Asian Dowitcher, a beautiful species that changes the colour of its feathers depending on its breeding season – brick-red when breeding and greyish-brown when not.

Given that there are only about 23,000 Asian Dowitchers left globally, it is listed as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species. Travelling from as far as southern Siberia, these birds typically only stop over at the wetland reserve for just one day, so you’ll have to be really lucky to spot one of these elusive creatures!

2. Jelutong Tower at MacRitchie Reservoir

One of the best places in Singapore to spot migratory birds, and a favourite among avid birdwatchers, will definitely be the Jelutong Tower located within MacRitchie Reservoir. In addition to spotting a variety of birds, make your way up the seven-deck observation tower and be treated to an unblocked view of the forest canopy MacRitchie has to offer.

While the nondescript Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher might be easily brushed off as one of many similar-looking brown birds in the Southeast Asia region, a seasoned birder would know how rare it is to spot one given its globally threatened status.

Although there are only a handful of records noting the sightings of this bird in Singapore, the Central Catchment Forest is found to be one of the hotspots where they have been spotted before. Listen hard for a short series of “ticks”, a call made by the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher when it is alarmed, and you may have the luck to spot one of these little birdies!

Another migratory bird to look out for at the Jelutong Tower is the eye-catching Siberian Blue Robin. With the males of this species boasting royal blue upperparts and snow-white underparts, it is easily spotted amongst the green canopies.

In addition to Siberia, this blue robin also breeds in Mongolia, Korea, China and Japan before travelling thousands of kilometres to warmer parts of Southeast Asia to tide over for winter – a formidable distance for such a small bird! With the rich biodiversity found in MacRitchie Reserve, don’t forget to also keep a look out for other wildlife at the Jelutong Tower, such as the critically endangered Raffles Banded Langur and Sunda Pangolin.

3. Hampstead Wetlands Park

Located at Seletar Aerospace Park, Hampstead Wetlands Park is well-known as a green sanctuary for wildlife. Centred around a freshwater lake, the park offers birds and other animals with shelter, resting grounds and nesting spots, away from predators and human disturbances. With its array of birds, Hampstead Wetlands Park is the perfect spot if you’re a beginner birder.

One of the most magnificent species you can find at the park is The Crested Honey Buzzard otherwise also known as the Oriental Honey Buzzard.

While an excellent hunter, this raptor specialises in dismantling the nests of bees and wasps to feed on their larvae, a relatively unique behaviour amongst predatory birds. Sizing up to 65 centimetres, the Crested Honey Buzzard are massive compared to your average birds and can be easily identified with its small chicken-like head. As one of the most common migrants in Singapore during the winter season, they can be often seen travelling in a group.

Another interesting bird easily spotted at Hampstead Wetlands Park is the Japanese Sparrowhawk – the most common accipiter in Singapore.

This species of bird is widespread throughout Singapore during the winter months and can be often seen soaring in the skies. If you’re lucky, you can even watch them in action at the freshwater lake at the park hunting at low levels for their prey! In addition to birds, Hampstead Wetlands Park is also home to a wide range of flora and fauna so do keep your eyes peeled for some unique species, such as the Buffy Fish Owl as you take a leisure stroll along the scenic boardwalk.

4. Jurong Lake Gardens

The newest Singapore national gardens on our little island, Jurong Lake Gardens is a 90-hectare space that is teeming with wildlife given that it houses several ecosystems including a swamp, grassland, and freshwater lake. It is therefore no surprise that Jurong Lake Gardens has been the site for “star sightings” such as the Amur Paradise Flycatcher and Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, both notoriously difficult to spot migratory birds.

Similar to many male birds of other species, the males of the Amur Paradise Flycatcher boast a distinctive look during breeding season. In this case, the tail of the adult male can extend up to 27cm or more, a striking feature for this species of birds. Unfortunately, this is rarely seen in Singapore given that they typically breed in other parts of the world before visiting Singapore to spend the winter months. With a preference to forage high up in the canopies, do remember to keep your gaze up if you’d like to spot any of these unique birdies!

And while you’re at Jurong Lake Gardens, do also look out for some of the most interesting birds in nature – the kingfishers. True to their name, kingfishers are a master fisher that swoop down to catch its prey with pinpoint accuracy. With many of them conspicuously coloured, it is fairly easy to spot one from afar!

One of which is the Common Kingfisher, a miniature kingfisher about the length of a small ruler that is a frequent migrant to Singapore.

With its diet made up of predominantly fish, these birds can often be seen perched on branches not too far from waterbodies as they survey the landscape for their next prey. In addition to looking out for their turquoise-coloured upperparts and orange underparts, listen up for their distinctive high-pitched “tseep” that may just point you to where you can spot these beautiful birds in action!

Excited to head out for your birdwatching adventure? Here are some quick tips to keep in mind as you lace up your walking shoes and head outdoors:

  1. Dress in comfortable light-coloured clothes, preferably with long sleeves to minimise any mosquito bites
  2. Bring along your own bottled water to stay hydrated
  3. Have a comfortable pair of shoes to walk in, especially if you are trekking at the same time
  4. Remember to leave any nesting birds alone, should you encounter one

As we eagerly wait for the first flock of migratory birds to arrive in September, feel free to also check out Singapore Bird Project that offers an array of information about the different bird species found in our little red dot!

And in celebration of the magnificent array of biodiversity this month, let’s continue to #PowerTheChange by appreciating and conserving our resident and migratory wildlife for future generations to enjoy.

4 Ways to invest in our planet this Earth Day

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4 Ways to invest in our planet this Earth Day

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our generation. Even as governments around the world make pledges to reduce carbon emissions and build a greener tomorrow, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warns that these promises may not be enough.

According to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “current climate pledges would still mean a 14% increase in emissions”. The signs are clear – to make a lasting change and preserve our planet for our future generations, each of us would need to do our part to make a difference.   

Happening on 22 April and aptly themed “Invest in Our Planet”, this year’s Earth Day brings to focus the time and effort that we all need to invest to build a green and prosperous future. As we celebrate this home that we call Earth, we’d encourage you to take a stand and make a green difference to our planet. There is no time like now to take action and here are four ways that we can do so: 

1. Inculcate green habits in your children

Children are the leaders of tomorrow. Someday, they’ll grow to become policy makers of the world and be the ones who will continue guiding future generations to protect our planet. As we nurture our children holistically, investing time to teach them about sustainability and inculcating green habits within them from a young age cannot be neglected. 

While schools in Singapore are taking a step in the right direction by gradually introducing sustainability-based initiatives within their curriculum, children are known to pick up habits and cues more easily from home. As parents and caregivers, why not set a good example for them by cultivating some green habits?  

These can include simple habits like switching off lights that are not in use, opting to bring a reusable water bottle or choosing to recycle our recyclables such as old plastic bottles, paper scraps and cardboard boxes. Through such everyday efforts, this helps in establishing positive behaviours within our children from a young age, making it second nature for them to live sustainably! 

Taking a step further, we can also make a mindful decision to incorporate more time outdoors for our kids. According to research, it uncovered that individuals who are more exposed to nature made more green choices; unsurprising given the natural appreciation we build when we’re immerse in the sights and sounds of our outdoor environment. So, grab those hiking shoes and head out for a walk with your kids!

In addition to spending quality time with your child, take this opportunity to also show them the beautiful green spaces of Singapore while clocking in some fun and healthy exercise. 

2. Volunteering at organisations that conserve our environment

This Earth Day, choose to pay it forward through the simple act of volunteering. Contrary to popular belief, some forms of volunteering do not take up much of our time. For instance, our ChangeMaker Green Nudge regularly organises beach clean-ups that warmly welcomes new participants!

These short-term volunteering activities, otherwise known as micro-volunteering, are a great way to contribute back to our planet while spending time meaningfully with our loved ones. By participating in these beach clean-ups, we help to save any trash, such as plastic bags, metal drink cans and cigarette butts, that would otherwise pollute our water bodies and pose as a threat to unknowing animals, ensuring that these beautiful spaces remain enjoyable for generations to come.   

But, if you’re looking to commit on a longer-term basis, we have the perfect option for you too! For animal lovers, check out our very own Mandai Wildlife Reserve that has great volunteering programmes for people of all ages. With roles such as a conservation ambassador, event volunteer and docent, each of these opportunities are a great way to share your love for nature and wildlife with members of the public, seeding in them a newfound appreciation for wildlife conservation.  

Alternatively, if you lean more towards promoting and maintaining Singapore’s natural heritage – look out for the various volunteering opportunities with NParks! With its range of roles that allows you to work with different aspects of Singapore’s green spaces, we’re sure that you’ll be able to find one that’s your cup of tea. Catered to individuals of all background, take an active role and be part of Singapore’s journey as we build to become a City in Nature. 

3. Choosing to offset your carbon emissions

While one of the smallest countries in the world, did you know that Singapore ranks 27th out of 142 countries in terms of emissions per capita? That’s a surprising statistic! With our Earth rapidly heating up due to these planet-warming gases, each of us have a key role to play in reducing these emissions through our everyday lifestyle choices.  

There are many ways which we can do so and one of the easiest is to minimise the amount of trash that we produce! In an article published by The Straits Times, an estimated total of 1.58 million tonnes of carbon emissions  is released annually from our landfills alone. We can make a big difference simply by reducing the amount of trash we produce. For instance, bringing a reusable container when we order takeaway or recycling our plastic bottle can help to bring our carbon emissions down by at least 60% and 30% respectively! 

Besides reducing our waste, you can also take advantage of Singapore’s well-connected routes and choose to walk or cycle! Instead of driving to the nearby supermarket to make your grocery runs, grab your bike for a leisure cycle or even take a slow jog! With such small lifestyle changes, not only will it help in reducing your carbon footprint –  by up to 67% according to Bloomberg – you may even find yourself getting fitter over time – definitely a win-win!  

As you’re cultivating these green habits, another effortless way to offset your carbon emissions is by signing up with Geneco’s Power Eco Add-On – Singapore’s first and only customisable green add on for all your electricity plan.

Simply select between Carbon Credits (CC) or Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) and opt the level of green contribution – 25%/50%/75%/100% – that you’re most comfortable with, and you’re on your way to make a difference to our Earth with as little as $1 more per month!

Who says investing in our planet and our future can’t be affordable?

4. Contributing to Geneco’s Plant-A-Tree Fundraising Initiative

Did you know? A full-grown tree can absorb an estimated of 48,000kg of carbon dioxide per year  – that’s equivalent to not having any cars on our local roads for over 133,333 years – imagine that!

Besides helping to tackle global warming, trees also play a key role in beautifying our everyday spaces, provide shade and support our biodiversity. With its multitude of benefits, trees form an important foundation to build a liveable and sustainable Singapore and are truly a gift that keeps giving well into our future generations.  

As we invest in our planet this Earth Day, how about choosing to plant more trees as we build our City in Nature? Show your support through Geneco X Garden City Fund via Giving.sg as we contribute towards Singapore’s #OneMillionTrees movement and  we will match dollar-for-dollar for each donation.

100% of your donations will go towards restoring the greenery in our very own island. No amount is too little, so do spread the good word with your friends and family! 

As we celebrate Earth Day this year, let’s remember to cultivate greener habits and make small lifestyle changes to be kinder to our planet. It’s time for us to give back and heal our mother nature.  

Together, let’s continue to #PowerTheChange and create a greener world for all who live in it. 

4 Microgreens to grow at home

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4 Ways to invest in our Planet this Earth Day

Plants are a great option to have in any home. Not only do they add a pop of greenery, which is proven to help us feel more relaxed, having plants indoor also helps to eliminate any harmful toxins in the air. According to a  study by NASA, houseplants can remove up to 87% of air toxins in 24 hours, ensuring that the air we breathe remains constantly clean and refreshing!  

However, if you’re looking for a niftier houseplant option for your home that is suitable for HDB-living, growing your own microgreens also serves as a great alternative! In addition to its aesthetic exterior, microgreens are fuss-free and very easy to grow, taking an average of 14 days to harvest. Best of all, these tender greens can be added into any of your meals for that extra veggie boost – a definite advantage over regular houseplants! While miniscule in size, microgreens are packed with a whole range of nutrients and antioxidants, and can play a role in protecting us against chronic diseases. 

If you’re a first-time microgreen plant parent and are wondering how you can get started – fret not! In today’s blogpost, we will be sharing four microgreens that are perfect for anyone:  

1. Lentils

While it is one of the lesser known and underrated microgreens, lentils are not any less beneficial for our health. In addition to nutrients such as vitamin B, C and E, lentil microgreens are also jam packed with protein, serving as a great meat replacement source. What’s more, its high fibre content helps in boosting metabolism, weight management and may even reduce the risk of developing cancer.

With its crunchy and refreshing flavour, lentil microgreens are a perfect addition into any of your favourite meals from salads to stir-fry noodles or even blending them up and mixing it into your pesto sauce! If you’re feeling more adventurous, try including these little greens into your smoothies or curries for that kick of nutty flavour and boost of vitamins. 

Gardening Tip:  A great tip when growing lentil microgreens is to soak your seeds overnight for at least 8 to 12 hours to jumpstart the sprouting process. Once you notice sprouts shooting out of your lentil seeds, they are then ready to be transplanted into your growing medium such as soil. Thereafter, do ensure that your growing medium remains moist but not overly soaked, for the best condition for your microgreens to flourish.

While growing lentil microgreens is a little different from the others and would require an extra soaking step, the entire process remains pretty straightforward and is easy even if you’re a novice gardener, so not to worry! 

2. Kale

Kale microgreens are known as one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods with multiple health benefits including vitamins A, C and B6, as well as a myriad of antioxidants. A true example of a food source that punches above its weight, kale microgreens contain 5.2 times and 5.3 times more potassium and zinc respectively as compared to its adult counterpart! With such high levels of minerals, these microgreens are a great way to help regulate our blood pressure, support the growth of healthy muscles and provide a boost to our immune system. 

While it holds a subtler bitter flavour as compared to mature kale, kale microgreens are still considered as one of the stronger tasting microgreens. If you’re not a fan of its raw and grainy texture, we’d suggest adding them into a banana smoothie, which will cover the otherwise raw taste of the kale. Similarly, if you’re looking to include this superfood into your salads, adding a drizzle of balsamic vinegar will do the trick in masking its bitterness!  

Gardening Tip:  Kale microgreens are one of the easiest to grow – taking just 10 days before they’re ready for harvest! But, if you’re looking to further improve the germination process, a great tip would be to mist your seeds prior to spreading them on your soil.

Once they are ready for harvest, do remember to not water them 12 hours prior to harvest as well, as it would be very hard to get the foliage to dry otherwise. Packing your harvested kale microgreens wet is not encouraged as it would decrease its shelf life, which may lead to food wastage.  

3. Broccoli

While a mature broccoli is sturdy and rather hard when its uncooked, a microgreen broccoli is the complete opposite! With its tiny leafy green tops, these delicate young seedlings of the broccoli plant are incredibly nutritious and contain double the amount of calcium per gram compared to regular broccoli. Broccoli microgreens are also high in sulforaphane, which is one of the critical micronutrients that helps fight cancer, reduce inflammation in our respiratory pathways and even heal any damage to our eyes’ retinal cells – ensuring that our eyesight remains sharp and bright! 

With a tangy and mild peppery aroma, broccoli microgreens can be easily added to any of your favourite dishes like sandwiches or soups. To maximise its nutritional value, try consuming these microgreens raw, which studies have shown to provide three times more nutrients.

Or, if you’d prefer not too raw a taste, simply dunk them in your hot soup, which would still yield you at least 80% of its nutrient value. These miniature crunchy add-ons are also great for sneaking into your child’s meals for that extra nutrition boost and protect them against any viruses or free radicals.

Gardening Tip: Broccoli microgreens are one of the more popular options given that they’re the simplest to grow – taking just 6 days before they’re ready for harvest! These microgreens require tons of light so we’d encourage you to leave your planting tray by the windowsill or invest in some grow lights. Keep your microgreens moist but not overly watered, and you will be ready to harvest them in no time!

4. Cauliflower

With its glossy dark green leaves and violet stem undertones, cauliflower microgreens are one of the most aesthetically pleasing bunch of the lot out there. Part of the Brassicaceae family, which also counts bok choy, brussels sprouts and cabbage within its family tree, broccoli microgreens pack a punch on the nutritional front with a high concentration of vitamins C, B6, iron, magnesium and fibre. This helps in reducing our risk of liver cancer and diabetes, heart disease and even improving our moods! 

Similar to broccoli microgreens, these cauliflower babies also have a mild peppery flavour accompanied with a crisp texture. Simply throw them into any of your soups or as a topping for your sandwiches and burgers for that extra nutritional crunch. If you’re up for it, you can even consume it as a snack, dipping them in hummus!

Gardening Tip: There are two stages to growing cauliflower microgreens. First, for germination, place them in the dark for around five days. Thereafter, once the seeds have germinated, expose your microgreens to indirect light for another four days – this will help in flourishing the microgreens as they turn from yellow to beautiful green leaves. Ensure that you only water them twice a day – every morning and evening – and you will be able to harvest them within less than two weeks! 

Ready to start growing your own little garden at home? Check out the various local brands such as EverythingGreen.sg and Urban Harvest that offer a myriad of options. If you’d like to pick up some quick tips on how best to take care of your microgreen babies, do head over to our ChangeMaker Cultivate Central where they offer some of the best tips to ensure that your microgreens will be ready for harvest in no time! 

And, if you would like to extend your green thumb beyond your homes, you can also contribute by making a donation to Geneco’s X NParks’ Garden City Fund at Giving.sg.

Join us as we partake in NParks’ #OneMillionTrees mov