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Learn from CCK Town’s Newly Crowned Eco-Warriors

Congratulations to Eleen Koay (Brickland), Ting Siew Khim (CCK estate) and Ng Chee Wee (Bukit Gombak) for coming out tops in CCK Town’s latest eco contest!

For her upcycling effort, Eleen won the top prize of an HP Envy 6020 All-printer.

Siew Khim’s suggestions show us that old is still gold when it comes to water-saving efforts the traditional way and was awarded the second prize, an HP Deskjet 2722e printer.

Chee Wee took home the consolation prize of an HP Pavilion Wayfarer Backpack for his idea which helps one get fit and conserve electricity.

Let’s find out more from the three of them on how to reduce, reduce and recycle.

Reuse, Recycle & Upcycle as Eleen did

Having a carpenter father and a seamstress mother meant Eleen grew up watching her parents tinker with things. Naturally, she picked up their hands-on habit. Thus, when she noticed that her sofa was beginning to break down earlier this year, inspiration struck.

“The springs in the sofa were broken but the leather was still in very good condition. At the same time, I noticed that our dining chairs were looking quite worn and needed replacement,” the 33-year-old research engineer said.

She thought, why not use the leather, cushions and padding from the sofa to give her dining chairs a new lease of life? She bounced the idea off her parents, who gamely said: “Sure, that sounds workable!”

So, one weekend before Chinese New Year, Eleen, her husband and her parents stripped off the worn cloth seats from the dining chairs, took apart the sofa and got to work cutting up the cushions and leather of the sofa to make new dining seats.

By the end of the day, Eleen had six beautiful dining chairs. She even got a set of baby pillows and bolsters made from the leftover stuffing for her two children.

“The wood in the sofa was not of very good quality, otherwise, we would have made small cupboards or side tables with them. If I had the equipment to work with metal, maybe we could have done something with the sofa’s metal frame too,” she added. “There are lots of possibilities when it comes to upcycling. It’s just a matter of how creative you want to be.”

For example, her sister once made a side table out of her old car tyres. In her family, when something is broken, the first thing they will try to do is to see if it can be fixed. If it can’t, they will think about whether they can make something else out of it.

“I think it is wasteful to just throw things away because everything is so expensive,” she said.

‘Reduce’ as Siew Khim did

For Siew Khim, living sustainably is as natural as breathing. As someone who follows the news, she understood the threat of global warming is real.

“Every one of us can play a small part,” she said. The need to conserve resources is especially acute in a small country like Singapore which does not have natural resources, she added.

Her contribution is to conserve water and electricity wherever possible. For example, she grew up collecting water in a pail and showering with a water scoop and continues to do so even now at age 55. She also uses a mug for brushing her teeth instead of leaving the water running.

She uses LED lights at home, turns off electrical appliances when not in use, and recycles all the plastic packaging to use as trash bags. She also recycles batteries and other IT gadgets into e-waste bins.

Her effort to reduce the use of water and electricity helps her to keep her utility bills for her 4-room flat around $50 to $60 a month. She encourages her neighbours to live more sustainably too by offering to take their items for recycling to the correct recycling points.

Reduce as Chee Wee did

Application engineer Chee Wee, 35, is a sustainability advocate at work, and he brings the practice home as well.

He said: “I’ll always try to see what are the easy and doable tasks that can be done frequently to make an eco-difference.”

For instance, instead of using the lift, he takes the stairs when going up or down two or three storeys. Since lifts consume the most electricity when in motion, he explained that by not using the lift, he is helping to reduce the use of electricity while getting some exercise at the same time.

“Climbing the stairs reduces electricity use, is very easy to do, makes an impact and the bonus is, you get a healthier you,” he quipped.

He also tries to conserve resources in other everyday tasks such as reusing water from the washing of vegetables.

“Such mindful practices will go a long way. We just need to get started somewhere,” he added.

Congratulations to all our eco-winners! Their ideas and actions show us how we can make the 3Rs of reduce, reduce and recycle part of our daily life. Let’s all get sustainable to create a greener future for all!