Commentary: What good will Coldplay’s vessel cleaning up Malaysia rivers do?

SINGAPORE: British band Coldplay lately introduced that they’re sponsoring a vessel that may clear up the polluted rivers in Malaysia.

The place this newest announcement appeared in step with Coldplay’s declared want to minimise waste, even wanting their live shows to be carbon impartial some years again, it’s to be applauded.

However the information had a combined reception, with some praising their advocacy and expressing help, and others waving it off as a publicity stunt.

Coldplay isn’t the one music artist on the go-green bandwagon. Teenage singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is likely one of the greatest pop stars on the planet, however what stands out nearly as prominently as her music is her talking out in opposition to the local weather disaster.

READ: Commentary: 2021 has already seen the wettest and driest months in many years. Is Singapore ready for extra?

In September 2019, Eilish posted a video of her and Hollywood star Woody Harrelson speaking concerning the local weather disaster throughout her social media channels simply earlier than she went on Saturday Evening Dwell.

In it, they urged individuals to comply with organisations like Greenpeace and Fridays for Future, a global local weather motion based by teen activist Greta Thunberg. Eilish’s video went on to build up over 40 million views worldwide.

Thunberg herself is an instance of the superstar who rose to stardom as a grassroots activist.

She has packed fairly a punch for the setting in focusing public consideration on local weather change, whether or not crusing to the United Nations Normal Meeting in New York from the UK, lacking classes to strike for #FridaysForFuture or accusing world leaders of betraying her technology by failing to sort out greenhouse gasoline emissions at a UN local weather summit in 2019.

READ: Commentary: A 12 months of resistance, as youth protests formed local weather change discussions

A star, and even an unintended one, could make a splash once they converse up for a trigger.

Their star energy is alluring, enabling them to solid a large, international web of affect, reaching the hearts and minds of younger and outdated alike. Their actions shine a highlight on worthy causes, producing wanted consideration and mobilising sources for social ills.

Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg attends a rally Fridays for Future as part of "
Swedish local weather change activist Greta Thunberg attends a rally Fridays for Future as a part of “World Day of Local weather Motion in Stockholm, Sweden March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Ilze Filks

To make sure, such superstar advocacy for environmental causes is just not new, although it has grown dramatically with the rise of consciousness on local weather change, with some optimistic results.  A 2017 examine by Imperial School educational Elizabeth Duthie reveals superstar endorsements improved individuals’s receptiveness to conservation efforts.

However whereas celebrities could transfer public attitudes and encourage thousands and thousands of youths around the globe to comply with of their footsteps, there are different on a regular basis heroes who play equally important roles in nurturing eco-consciousness in our youths.

(If particular person actions gained’t transfer the needle on local weather change, what is going to? Discover out what local weather activists are pushing for on The Local weather Conversations:)



I grew up beneath the affect of my father who taught us to preserve water and electrical energy from a younger age. Till immediately, it’s semi-automatic for me to show off the lights and followers upon leaving the home or the bed room. It’s so deeply encoded in my DNA that I don’t even give it some thought.

There’s actually little or no superstar affect right here; simply good ol’ dad.

Since my kids have been kindergarteners, now we have spoken to them concerning the significance of conserving our pure sources and lowering waste.

We remind them to take shorter showers, flip off the air-conditioner, lights or followers when not in use and have arrange a separate bin for recyclable wastes, instructing our youngsters what supplies are appropriate for recycling and generally enlisting their assist to rinse empty juice cartons and set them apart.

READ: Commentary: Taking Singapore’s inexperienced ambitions to new heights with a round financial system

In our household’s eco-journey, educators have additionally performed a major function.

Our youngsters have been usually inspired by their academics to carry alongside to high school recyclable supplies like outdated CDs and plastic bottles, or different odds and ends, which they’d upcycle to create new toys or ornamental objects.

I nonetheless recall three years in the past when my daughter got here house waving her first bamboo straw excitedly and declaring that she’d by no means once more use a plastic straw. It was a present from her trainer.

READ: Commentary: Wasteful practices of affluence should cease

Woman sipping kombucha with straw
(Picture: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio)

Maybe dad and mom and academics are the on a regular basis function fashions and unsung heroes in nurturing a love for nature and environmental conservation in our kids – and their affect is not any much less extraordinary in contrast with larger-than-life celebrities.

Whereas we could not have thousands and thousands of followers on our social media accounts, our phrases (particularly when matched by deeds) converse loudly and clearly in our kids’s minds.

None of our tweets will go viral, however our every day habits go away a deep imprint of their hearts, as they see us make an effort to devour much less, purchase from native or sustainable sources, and use merchandise which can be much less dangerous to the setting.

READ: Commentary: Paying for a plastic bag is not sufficient to alter our dependence on it

As Malaysia netizens rightly noticed, whereas Coldplay’s effort to scrub Malaysia’s rivers was appreciated, their newest effort has shone an uncomfortable gentle on whether or not Malaysia ought to take higher cost of their setting as a substitute of getting worldwide celebrities swoop in to treatment a poor state of affairs.

And in any case, Coldplay’s support could be for nought if individuals proceed to throw plastic waste into rivers.

READ: Commentary: Why recycling, much less single-use plastics usually are not the solutions to our plastic scourge


Reality be advised – it hasn’t all the time been simple to stroll the recycling speak, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic and the adjustments in our every day habits, which sadly consists of an elevated reliance on meals supply and its use of plastic or paper meals packaging.

However I remind myself that each little thought and motion counts. As Stephen Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Extremely Efficient Individuals: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

We hope that future features a world that makes use of sources responsibly and sustainably.

As dad and mom, now we have the uncanny capability and big duty to talk into the souls of our youths and to affect their selections and character.

However tackling the behemoth of local weather change and environmental conservation requires all palms on deck, so there’s nothing to complain about when celebrities step in to lend their star energy to a worthy trigger.

FILE PHOTO: The Brit Awards at the O2 Arena in London
FILE PHOTO: Billie Eilish poses as she arrives for the Brit Awards on the O2 Area in London, Britain, February 18, 2020 REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Picture

They might not intimately form the values and habits of our kids in comparison with us dad and mom, however they do a fairly good job in thrusting the problem of local weather turn into the worldwide limelight.

Their battle is on the world stage; ours within the every day grind. Apart from, how many people are in a position to singlehandedly fund a vessel to assist clear up a polluted river? Or get an viewers comprising world leaders?

Undoubtedly, celebrities and the artwork that they do – be it music, films or attending a late night time talkshow – carry a sure energy and mystique to assist us dream and suppose large.

READ: Commentary: What does Ronan Keating find out about Singapore ports?

Wasteful company practices should even be reviewed to be able to transfer the needle on waste administration and air pollution.

However it’s as much as abnormal individuals such as you and me to catch on to these beliefs and to re-think the way in which we dwell our lives – and to go on these beliefs to the following technology.

In spite of everything, our home recycling charges has remained low at round 20 per cent over the previous couple of years.

READ: Commentary: Why does Singapore nonetheless lack a recycling ethos?

Our affect could also be refined and we could not see the fruits of our labour until a few years later, however the alternative is ripe for the taking: Our selections immediately can assist to boost up a technology of higher lovers and stewards of the setting.

Their future, and their kids’s future, relies on it.

June Yong is a mom of three, an academic therapist and proprietor of Mama Put on Papa Shirt, a weblog that discusses parenting and training in Singapore.

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