Ridding his neighbourhood of litter, 1 piece at a time

Ridding his neighbourhood of litter, 1 piece at a time
Mr Xu, 57, lives in Hougang Avenue 8. He often clears litter in the area, hoping to inspire others to keep the environment clean.
PHOTO: Lianhe Wanbao

He has been verbally abused and told to mind his own business. But that has not stopped retiree Xu Zhixing from going around his neighbourhood to pick up trash - voluntarily - and remind others not to litter almost daily for the past three years.

The 57-year-old lives in Hougang Avenue 8. He often clears litter in the area, hoping to inspire others to keep the environment clean.

His good deed came to light after a Lianhe Wanbao reader spotted him picking up trash with a pair of tongs, the Chinese evening daily reported yesterday.

Mr Xu, who used to run a recycling and cleaning business, told Wanbao that he retired after undergoing a heart bypass three years ago. Since then, he has been picking up rubbish in his neighbourhood almost every day.

When asked why he does it voluntarily, he said that although there are many cleaners around, there is still litter on the streets. He added that Singaporeans are not very well-informed about environmental cleanliness.

"I've seen flats in Punggol Point where the rubbish chutes on almost every floor were surrounded by bags of garbage," said Mr Xu. "This isn't right; people often think picking up rubbish is the job of foreign workers."

Hoping to set an example, he would go up to litterbugs and remind them to pick up their trash.

"Some of them are embarrassed and would apologise before picking it up," he said. "Others think that I'm a busybody and would spew vulgarities or glare at me."

Undaunted, Mr Xu perseveres in his cleaning endeavours, even when he is on a bus or in other neighbourhoods such as Punggol, Lorong Ah Soo and Jurong.

The civic-minded man, who also volunteered to direct traffic at Xinmin Primary School 14 years ago, said he has been offered food and water by passers-by who spot him in the act. Once, a couple even offered him $10.

However, he would rather have people emulate his actions and keep the environment clean than give him gifts, which he passes on to the elderly or foreign workers.

myp@sph.com.sg


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