Populations in South East Asia have had to live with haze (poor air quality from pollution) for decades, but intensive agriculture is causing an increased frequency of ‘bad haze days’ as forest fires are set partly to clear land for palm oil plantations. Demand for paper and palm oil based products, ranging from lipstick and toothpaste to pizza and ice cream, has led to practices such as deforestation, landscape fires and draining peatlands. As a result, the Singapore haze problem causes severe health and economic implications.
The People’s Movement against Haze (PM.Haze) has launched the We Breathe What We Buy campaign to raise awareness of the consumer’s role in creating the poor air quality. Supported by both WWF Singapore and the Singapore Environment Council, this is the first citizen-led initiative looking to engage public thinking about the direct relationship between their daily purchasing decisions and the haze.
The campaign includes striking billboard images of lipstick, pizza or toothpaste, which reveal images of burning forest within. TV advertisements depict citizens disrupted in their everyday activities by the facemasks they are forced to wear. Elaine Tan, CEO of WWF-Singapore, stated the campaign: “aims to drive mass public consumer awareness, to create demand for certified sustainable palm oil and bring about a market transformation that can help to stop the haze.”
Elaine Tan, CEO, WWF-Singapore
Republic of Singapore (Singapore)