Environmentalism and a Baby in a Garden City

“Sustainable development means more than environmental concern. What are the links between social policy and sustainable development?”
Ah, exam questions. Don’t you just love the anticipation, the adrenaline, the rush, the fear…and then the sheer physical and mental pain of scrawling and scratching away with a pen for the next 2 or 3 hours trying to argue your way as concisely as your head and handwriting will allow? I found an old exam paper from my MSc days chucked away at the corner of my cupboard as I was yet again, battling to find more space for Boop’s books and toys. Back when I was attending lectures for this module, I tried going vegetarian at least 3 times a week and downloaded several apps in an attempt to reduce my carbon footprint in other ways. Sustainable development and environmentalist philosophy is fascinating in the UK and US with dedicated activists expanding Transition Town networks across countries, as well as other localised trading systems or alternatives like time banks that use the exchange of time to forge stronger social capital in neighbourhood communities. And of course there is the Green Party and their key policy demands of a “Citizen’s Income” for all.
In Singapore, we are green, green garden city. We are, in fact, beautifully green with Gardens by the Bay. Who can forget the 50-meter-high solar-powered “supertrees” and climate-controlled biomes after a visit? They were the superb vision and sheer energy of Lee Kuan Yew, who sowed the first seedlings in Singapore – “I sent them on missions all along the Equator and the tropical, subtropical zones, looking for new types of trees, plants, creepers and so on. From Africa, the Caribbean, Latin, Middle, Central America, we’ve come back with new plants. It’s a very small sum. But if you get the place greened up, if you get all those creepers up, you take away the heat, you’ll have a different city”.
And of course, dotted around the island, there are troves of recycling bins, or just bins lest you get the infamous fine for littering. National policy aside, there are NGOs like the Edible Garden City that champions the “Grow Your Own Food” movement in land-scarce and import-dependent Singapore. This infectious group of Singapore farmpreneurs not only help corporates with foodscaping, but also seed the knowledge of food growing in schools. The Growell Pop Up, as its name suggests, is a pop up that hosts community based workshops on food sustainability. So there is stuff going on, just not perhaps on the scale where a discernible, ground-up narrative can be articulated. Back in LSE, the ideal was touted as a narrative that led to the emergence of a newly empowered ‘welfare citizen’ with ecological citizenship (Fitzpatrick), and this required a certain degree of self-actualisation and change in lifestyle expectations and values.
So anyway, since coming across that exam paper, I have been thinking again about my carbon footprint,over-consumption, and really, how to live simply. It’s trickier now, with a baby as much of what I do revolves around his schedule. Well, we did our weekly sensory play activity and did it on a shoestring budget of $5. I used sago and brown rice, as well as some pasta. The most expensive item at $.250 was shaving foam. wpid-20150401_134513.jpgBoop was a little puzzled when I first handed the bag to him but once he realised how fun it was to squish foam with green sago seeds and rice he played with it on his own for the next 10 minutes, and then on and off for the rest of the day.
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Food-wise, well, ha. My efforts to be healthy just went out the window…. partially because it’s just easier to grab ingredients you have in your fridge rather than run across to Giant when you have a baby. So I ended up roasting pork belly, which came out with unexpectedly fantastic crackling. Im not too sure if this was because I bought the unfrozen slices on the racks rather than the whole belly from the butcher, but I roasted it at 180dc for 45 minutes, and then turned it up to 200dc for about 5-10 minutes. No fancy ingredients other than olive oil, salt and thyme.
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I figured that with one sinful eat, why not make it two? 😉
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This blueberry cheesecake was an amalgamation of no-bake cheesecakes found online, consisting of cream cheese, sugar, double cream and blueberries. Digestive biscuits and butter for the base. It wasn’t the best cheesecake, but it did satisfy my cake craving which sort of sprang up suddenly at night after Boop fell asleep.
As for Boop, he loves his vegetables! So at least one person in the house was both healthy and environmentally friendly! So I’m not too sure I reduced my carbon footprint at all. But I guess it’s about recognising our limitations, both circumstantially as well as personally,while still making a daily effort at it in our own small way.
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