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Saving the environment, one step at a time- RUN 350

— sector: Conservation and biodiversity
— theme: Environment and climate
— country: Global

This April, personal health and environmental well-being will come into focus together for as many as 15,000 runners, including children as young as four years old. NTUC Income RUN 350, Southeast Asia’s premier eco-run, is back for the third consecutive year to spread a green message: the global climate crisis is on us, and we all have a part to play in saving the environment.

Author/Editor
Mint Kang
Publishing Year
2013

This April, personal health and environmental well-being will come into focus together for as many as 15,000 runners, including children as young as four years old. NTUC Income RUN 350, Southeast Asia’s premier eco-run, is back for the third consecutive year to spread a green message: the global climate crisis is on us, and we all have a part to play in saving the environment.

The NTUC Income RUN 350 is organised by Young NTUC. The “350” in the event name refers to the 350 movement, which aims to solve the climate crisis through worldwide grassroots action.

It derives its name and mission from the 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide that climate change experts believe is the safe upper limit the atmosphere can hold and still continue to sustain humanity. Current carbon dioxide levels are around 395.55 ppm.

To drive home the need for action, NTUC Income RUN 350, Organised by Young NTUC, has incorporated messages about the environment and eco-friendly activities since it was first held in 2010. That year, for example, eco-friendly messages were displayed along the route; in 2011 and 2012, coastal cleanups were held before the event, with runners encouraged to participate.

Last year’s run also featured green movie screenings and panel discussions on environmental sustainability. In addition to the activities, RUN 350 donates part of its proceeds to Garden City Fund’s Plant-A-Tree Programme, with one tree planted for every 100 runners who sign up. So far, 629 trees have already been planted, and both organisers and participants are keen on seeing the number grow.

“The concept behind RUN 350 is a really good idea,” says 2012 half-marathon participant Ms Tan Wee Yin. “The event is not merely your usual run as they place a strong emphasis on spreading the message to save the environment. This is something that encouraged me to sign up for the race. Covering the entire 21 kilometers and knowing that my run is going to help plant more trees in Singapore, that really motivated me to keep going even when I’m tired.”

Ms Tan, who has also signed up for this year’s run, was initially inspired to join after watching Young NTUC’s screening of the documentary film “The 11th Hour”, which depicts the environmental damage that mankind has inflicted on the planet.

“I was very affected by the film,” she says. “I really want to do my part to conserve the environment, and taking part in RUN 350 was my first step in helping spread the green message to my friends.”

Small actions for a big message

This year, a new aspect is being added to the event in the form of extensive green measures. These range from paperless registration and race entry pack collection to providing bicycle racks on the race day to encourage runners to take green transportation to the venue, and even the use of biodiesel to fuel power generators.

“For the event date itself, we hope that runners can practice good habits like putting plastic bottles, paper cups or banana skins into their respective bins and even make the effort to come down earlier so they can cycle there,” says Ms Nor Lastrina Hamid, a volunteer with 350 Singapore. “These are small and simple things which, as a whole, can help to make the environment better. Plastic bottles can be recycled, trains will not be as packed, and there will be fewer vehicles emitting gases on the road.”

350 Singapore, which was founded in 2010 by Young NTUC, is the local chapter of the 350 global movement. The idea behind these initiatives is to show participants that anyone can play a part in saving the environment, simply with small actions that can be easily incorporated into daily life.

The organisers also hope to spread the message to the younger generation. RUN 350 has included a 350m Kids Dash segment since 2011, with participants between the ages of four and nine encouraged to join in the green activities.

The 2013 run also aims to reach a much wider audience than in previous years. This year’s target of 15,000 participants is a good 50 per cent up from 2012’s head count of 10,000. In addition, this is also the first year in which NTUC Income, initially the race presenter, has taken a title sponsorship role in RUN 350, helping to raise the marathon’s profile.

“350 Singapore hopes that for the thousands of participants in the 10km or 21km run, they see that taking care of their body is similar to taking care of the environment,” says Ms Lastrina. “Being physically united as a running community, and preparing weeks before the race to be fit and healthy so that they can complete the race later at a comfortable pace, is similar to being united as residents of the world and doing what positive things we can to protect our Earth so we can live here comfortably and sustainably.”

To take part in NTUC Income RUN 350, please go to www.RUN350.com and key in the promo code “ECOBARUN350” to enjoy the Early Bird registration fee now!

“Do you need to switch on that light during the day? How about just opening the windows to let more light in? Do you need to switch on the air-conditioner all day long? How about using the fan? Do you make it a point to switch off all electrical appliances when not in use and unplug them?

“When you purchase things, do you consider what type of product you are buying? Remember that your purchasing actions tell the suppliers what kind of products you want. So choose eco-friendly products that were made with less environmental impact. Be an ethical consumer.

“When was the last time you went outside just to appreciate Singapore’s precious wild outdoor environment? Go visit Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore’s oldest primary rainforest. There are various walking trails you can follow and see all sorts of plants. If you feel more adventurous, try out the mountain biking trail and rock climbing. Go to Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin – the ecosystem there is just unique. Look at the mangroves and learn how they protect our coasts. See the sandy shore and the seagrass lagoon, there are so many beautiful living things that are contributing to our coastal protection. With the way the climate crisis has been accelerating over the last few decades, these places may not be able to thrive. Do you want to see Singapore’s wild physical outdoors all gone?

“You can help curb the climate crisis and you can do something about it now. Learn how to change your lifestyle.”

- Ms Nor Lastrina Hamid, a volunteer with 350 Singapore.

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