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Why Is The Sustainable Use Of Natural Resources Important?

Why is the sustainable use of natural resources important? This question resonates with increasing urgency in our rapidly evolving world. From water to minerals, natural resources are finite and irreplaceable, demanding a shift towards sustainable management.

We'll delve into the energy-intensive nature of these resources, their detrimental impacts on ecosystems when used unsustainably, the financial benefits of responsible resource utilisation and the ongoing need to manage waste responsibly.

The Energy Intensive Nature Of Natural Resources

The extraction and use of natural resources are inherently energy-intensive processes, significantly impacting global carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption. This relationship is crucial in understanding the environmental sustainability challenges we face today.

The increasing demands of urbanisation and natural resource extraction contribute to escalating carbon emissions, with income levels and resource extraction linked to higher energy consumption. In response to these challenges, the transition towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources emerges as a critical solution. 

Increased consumption of renewable sources such as wind, solar, bioenergy and hydroelectric power can significantly reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental quality, offering a path towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly future.

These elements play a key role in countering the adverse environmental effects of high energy intensity associated with natural resource consumption. Higher energy intensity typically implies a greater use of energy per unit of output or activity, often seen in industries or systems relying heavily on non-renewable energy sources. 

This typically results in increased emissions and faster depletion of resources, emphasising the need for sustainable practices to ensure environmental balance and resource longevity.

The Detrimental Impacts Of Unsustainable Use On The Ecosystem

The unsustainable use of natural resources has significant, often irreversible effects on ecosystems. This includes a wide range of adverse outcomes resulting from practices like deforestation and the over-exploitation of land for agricultural purposes.

For example, a study on the Himalayas demonstrates how unsustainable practices can lead to recurrent floods, reduced groundwater recharge, increased runoff, soil erosion and decreased irrigation potential, profoundly affecting local and surrounding ecosystems.

In the Eti-Osa coastal area of Lagos state, Nigeria, there are effects of unsustainable development activities. Damages to critical ecosystems, including mangroves and food supply, have been estimated at millions of dollars annually.

Urban and industrial land reclamation has also led to significant losses in Nigeria’s ecosystem services, impacting local socio-economics. The decline in income from fishing and the collapse of infrastructure due to unsustainable land use and emerging flooding are just some examples of these impacts.

Similarly in the south of Malawi, two key areas have experienced substantial ecological shifts. In Zomba Mountain and Lake Chilwa areas, there have been losses in forests, wetlands and shrublands, primarily due to increased land-use change threats.

Additionally, in Dongting Lake, China, the critically endangered Yangtze finless porpoise has seen its habitat significantly restricted due to sand mining activities

The increased water traffic for sand transportation has further impeded the movement of these porpoises, disrupting their population connectivity and highlighting the urgent need for sustainable practices in managing natural resources.

Financial Benefits Of Sustainable Resource Use

Adopting sustainable practices in managing natural resources isn't just a matter of environmental responsibility, it's also a smart financial strategy. Businesses and organisations increasingly recognise that sustainable management of natural resources can lead to significant financial gains.

Investing in sustainability is not merely an environmental gesture; it can yield considerable financial returns. A study demonstrates that businesses adopting sustainable practices can experience a positive financial return increase of up to 12%.

This reinforces the economic viability of sustainable development and underlines the economic benefits of sustainable development, making it a responsible choice and profitable one.

Organisations also face specific liabilities and operating costs from various sources, particularly related to environmental factors. 

For instance, companies that use large amounts of water in their production processes may face water pollution or depletion liabilities. Operating costs can arise from the energy consumption required, where reliance on non-renewable energy sources can be costly and subject to price fluctuations.

Investing in sustainable practices, like water-efficient technologies or renewable energy, can significantly reduce these liabilities and operating costs, leading to more sustainable financial management. This can also lead to substantial budget savings, infrastructure development and maintenance expenses.

Environmental Benefits Of Using Natural Resources Sustainably Through Various Methods

Soil Conservation

Soil conservation methods play a critical role in environmental and resource sustainability. Techniques like contour strip cropping help prevent soil erosion, ensuring that topsoil, rich in nutrients necessary for plant growth, remains intact and productive. 

This conservation of soil also maintains natural habitats and biodiversity, as healthy soil supports a wide array of plant and animal life, crucial for ecological balance.


Biodiversity, encompassing the variety of life on Earth, also contributes to environmental health and natural resources. A rich biodiversity can allow plants and animals to thrive. This is crucial as different species contribute uniquely to the ecosystem through pollination, soil fertility and water purification. 

For example, diverse plant species provide a range of foods, while others are vital for medicine, showcasing biodiversity's direct impact on resources essential for human survival. 

Responsible Water Usage

Responsible water usage and agricultural practices also offer substantial benefits to the environment and natural resources by preserving water quality and availability. 

For example, drip irrigation is a standout strategy that can save up to 60% more water than traditional irrigation methods. By delivering water directly to plant roots, this system minimises losses due to evaporation and runoff, making it highly efficient for water conservation. 

Integrated Pest Management

Additionally, integrated pest management (IPM) reduces the need for chemical pesticides, thereby preventing water pollution and protecting both soil and water quality. These practices conserve natural resources and promote a healthier and more sustainable environment.

Waste Still Needs To Be Managed Responsibly

Effective waste management is crucial for the sustainable use of natural resources. In Singapore, waste management is approached comprehensively, focusing on waste reduction, increased recycling, composting and enhancing waste disposal practices.

Singapore has embraced an integrated approach to solid waste management guided by the National Environment Agency (NEA). 

Central to solid waste management approach is waste minimisation, recycling and efficient waste disposal, which includes mandatory waste reduction plans for businesses, public education on recycling, and advanced recycling facilities to enhance waste processing efficiency.

To encourage the reduction of waste generation and maximise recycling, Singapore fosters collaboration among the public, industries and businesses. This joint effort is crucial for achieving significant waste reduction and enhanced recycling rates.

In Singapore, the licensed Public Waste Collectors (PWCs), supervised by the NEA, also play a role in the sustainable use of resources by efficiently collecting waste, which is then transported to waste-to-energy (WTE) incineration plants. 

These waste-to-energy plants serve a dual purpose: they significantly reduce the volume of waste, thereby lessening the strain on landfills, and they convert waste into usable energy, like electricity, contributing to the country's energy mix and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. 

This integration of waste management and energy production exemplifies a practical application of sustainable resource use, turning waste into a valuable resource rather than just discarding it.

Singapore's dedication to responsible waste management extends to ongoing improvements in waste infrastructure. They continuously explore and adopt new technologies to enhance waste reduction, recycling and disposal efficiency to reflect their commitment to responsible waste management of natural resources.

These new technologies and infrastructure includes:

Environmental Robotics Programme

Funded by a S$10.8 million grant from the National Environment Agency (NEA), Environmental Robotics Programme focuses on developing robotic solutions for various aspects of environmental management, including waste management. 

Using robotics is expected to enhance productivity, create sustainable manpower streams and improve safety and effectiveness in operations. 

This initiative is part of the broader Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM), which aims to catalyse the local robotics industry and provide opportunities for small and medium enterprises and educational and research institutes.

Closing The Waste Loop (CTWL) Initiative

Closing the Waste Loop research funding initiative, supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Ministry of National Development (MND), aims to develop solutions for extracting value and resources from key waste streams such as plastics, food, electrical and electronic products and incineration ash.

With a funding of S$45 million under the Urban Solutions and Sustainability (USS) domain, the CTWL focuses on themes like segregation and value recovery, landfill conservation, environmental remediation and digital and data-driven management systems. 

This initiative is intended to enhance resource efficiency, reduce dependence on incineration and landfilling, and maintain high levels of public health.

Conclusion On The Sustainable Use Of Natural Resources

The sustainable use of natural resources is crucial for safeguarding our planet's future, ensuring a balance between economic progress and the maintenance of the ecological environment. This approach efficiently uses resources like water, energy and minimises waste.

At Semula, we embody this commitment by dedicating ourselves to transforming plastic waste into reusable materials, focusing on sustainability and innovation. We upcycle plastic waste, like HDPE milk bottles, into unique products, including furniture and corporate gifts. 

Through initiatives such as Upcycling/Sustainability Workshops and Recycling Talks, we contribute to preserving natural resources and empowering the community to adopt sustainable practices.

To learn more about our initiatives and explore potential partnerships, please feel free to fill out the contact form on our webpage. We welcome your inquiries and are eager to collaborate with like-minded individuals and organisations committed to environmental sustainability.

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