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Inspiring Change for a Greener Future: The Story of MJ (@justkeepthinking)

In a moment frozen in time, the world watched with bated breath as a sea turtle struggled, a plastic straw lodged painfully in its nostril. The viral video that captured this heart-wrenching scene became a rallying cry for environmental consciousness — a stark reminder of the profound consequences of our plastic consumption. On Earth Day 2024, with its theme of ‘Planet vs Plastics’, the video still serves as a poignant backdrop against which we are called to reflect on our relationship with the planet and also underscores the transformative power of social media in driving environmental change. 

This Earth Day, let’s shift our focus from one viral sensation to another as we engage with passionate science communicator and social media star Kong Man Jing, affectionately known as MJ (@justkeepthinking). Together, we’ll explore nurturing environmental awareness, harnessing the influence of social media and fostering a more positive outlook towards ecological stewardship.

A Lifelong Passion

MJ’s journey into environmental education and advocacy is rooted in her lifelong passion for science, wildlife, and the natural world. Her fascination with nature and scientific concepts began early, sparked by a thoughtful gift from her mother — a mini encyclopedia. This early exposure nurtured her innate curiosity and love for learning, paving the way for her future as a science communicator.

Despite earning a Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences with a specialisation in Environmental Biology from The National University of Singapore, MJ’s journey as an educator and communicator was only just beginning. She seamlessly transitioned from being a student of science to becoming a teacher of it, sharing her knowledge and passion with others through various platforms.


So yep, lifelong learning is one of the motivations we have for making all of our content! #ForwardSG

♬ original sound – Just Keep Thinking – Just Keep Thinking

While MJ initially joined social media relatively late compared to others, her passion for science and education remained unwavering. In 2018, she took the leap into platforms like TikTok and Instagram by creating @justkeepthinking, recognising the potential to reach a wider audience and inspire positive change through digital channels. Despite her late start, MJ’s authentic and relatable approach quickly resonated with viewers, leading to a growing community of followers interested in environmental topics.

A pivotal moment in MJ’s journey was her partnership with Raye Ng, Videographer and Co-Founder of @justkeepthinking. This collaboration was a perfect synergy of skills and passions, with MJ taking on roles such as host, scriptwriter, and sound manager, while Raye excelled in filming and social media distribution. Together, they created a dynamic platform that combined educational content with engaging storytelling, capturing the attention of diverse audiences.

Nurturing Environmental Awareness

MJ’s journey is not just about creating content for her social media platforms. She also aims to nurture a deeper understanding of environmental issues and empower individuals to take action. Central to her message is the idea that small individual actions can lead to significant collective impact, or as her catchphrase goes: ‘our ripples can always create big waves of change’, especially in addressing pressing environmental challenges like plastic pollution.

MJ cites the aforementioned video of the turtle that underscores the power of storytelling in driving awareness and initiating change. This poignant video sparked conversations worldwide, igniting a wave of consciousness about the detrimental effects of plastic on marine life.

Bringing it closer to home, we’ve seen similar instances in Singapore, such as the drone video showcasing Clementi Forest. The public voiced their desire to preserve certain areas of greenery, prompting the government to transform a section of the forest into a nature path. Once again, it demonstrates the power of social media in influencing conservation efforts and environmental education.

Beyond raising awareness, MJ emphasises, “It’s not just the tangible efforts and actions alone, but also how it sends a signal to the bigger players out there” and the importance of translating individual actions into systemic change. She highlights how major corporations like McDonald’s, KFC, and Starbucks responded to public sentiment by phasing out plastic straws, demonstrating the tangible impact of consumer advocacy on corporate practices.

Furthermore, MJ’s advocacy extends beyond the digital world, where she actively engages with policymakers and stakeholders to advocate for stronger environmental regulations and initiatives, with legislative discussions and policy considerations. Her efforts contribute to a broader conversation about sustainability and responsible environmental stewardship. She also actively engages with communities, conducts workshops, and collaborates with organisations like NParks to host educational events. These initiatives provide tangible opportunities for individuals to learn, participate, and contribute to environmental conservation efforts; where MJ adds, “If you use storytelling in a way that invokes certain emotions in people, then you can actually lead to huge changes!”

Bridging the Generational Gap

If you’ve tuned into MJ’s content, you’ll notice something special about her style — it’s friendly and candid, like chatting with a close friend rather than a formal educator. This approach to environmental education has allowed her to bridge generational gaps, connecting with both younger and older audiences through clever content and strategic partnerships.

MJ observes that her content resonates with a broad age range, including older demographics like many “cool uncles and aunties” who are active on platforms like Facebook and TikTok, highlighting the universal appeal of her educational and entertaining content. This cross-generational reach creates a unique opportunity to educate and inspire multiple generations simultaneously.

A notable outcome of MJ’s content strategy is the indirect education of the older generation through family engagement. When children watch MJ’s videos, their parents often join in, fostering discussions and shared learning experiences. This organic engagement not only enhances environmental awareness but also promotes intergenerational dialogue and collaboration.

Recognising the importance of targeted outreach, MJ and her team organise workshops specifically designed for older audiences. Additionally, strategic collaborations with partners like the National Library Board and the People’s Association (PA) enable them to reach diverse demographics effectively. By leveraging the popularity of platforms like PA among older communities, MJ ensures that environmental education transcends age barriers.

Inspiring the Next Generation

MJ’s dedication to environmental education and advocacy has resulted in numerous success stories that highlight the impact of her work in inspiring the younger generation to become environmental stewards. Through engaging content and hands-on initiatives, MJ has cultivated a culture of environmental consciousness and action among her viewers.

One of the standout examples of MJ’s impact is Naomi’s story — a primary five student who established her Eco Club after finding inspiration in MJ’s content. The ripple effect of inspiration leading to action epitomises the impact of MJ utilising social media to inspire. Naomi’s Eco Club is just one instance of many youth-led initiatives that have emerged as a direct result of MJ’s advocacy, demonstrating how individual passion can ignite collective movements for positive change.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought forth unique challenges, including increased human activity in marine areas that posed threats to wildlife. Recognising the urgency of the situation, MJ and her team documented these threats, leveraging their platform to raise awareness and spark crucial conversations. This initiative not only shed light on environmental issues but also catalysed tangible actions such as heightened beach patrols, volunteer training programs, and discussions on legislative measures for wildlife protection.

While it may be challenging to quantify the full extent of her impact in traditional metrics, MJ does see the value derived from it. “The everyday stories and messages that we get from people, you know, from kids, from families — those are the things that really push me forward every single day!” reflects MJ after seeing her work inspire others to embrace environmentally conscious behaviours and take meaningful action towards a greener future.

The Crucial Message

MJ’s overarching message is one of empowerment and hope. “It is easy to feel overwhelmed and think that our actions are too small or insignificant, but that mindset is dangerous”, MJ exclaims empathetically. She envisions a future where individuals, communities, and corporations work collaboratively towards a greener, more sustainable world. But in the meantime, she also says, “We shouldn’t rely on others to solve environmental issues for us; instead, we should all contribute to the best of our abilities!” 

Central to MJ’s message is the cultivation of a mindset rooted in responsibility and environmental consciousness. She emphasises that environmental education is not merely about imparting knowledge but instilling a sense of duty towards the planet. By nurturing this mindset, individuals are encouraged to make eco-conscious decisions in their daily lives. Every action, no matter how small, contributes to a larger narrative of environmental stewardship. This philosophy challenges the notion that individual efforts are insignificant. Instead, she champions the idea that collective action, built upon individual initiatives, can drive substantial change.

MJ often refers to her work as “planting seeds of environmental consciousness”, which beautifully captures her educational philosophy. She firmly believes that introducing environmental issues and values at a young age can leave a lasting impression, shaping lifelong behaviours and decisions. This hands-on approach to education is crucial in nurturing a generation of environmentally conscious individuals. By inspiring action and promoting a culture of environmental responsibility, MJ believes that we can build a better tomorrow for generations to come.

Join the movement towards a greener tomorrow on Earth Day 2024! Let’s take action together for a more sustainable future. Feeling inspired by MJ’s journey? Dive deeper into environmental education and conservation efforts by following her on TikTok (@justkeepthinking). Together, we can make a difference!

Visuals courtesy of TikTok Singapore.

Jeffrey Lee

A Singaporean raised abroad, you might want to see Jeffrey's different take on things — especially if you frequently find yourself swinging around a climbing gym or with a crossword in hand.

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