Pick up litter, spruce up Singapore

THIS Sunday, step outside and join thousands of other people in sprucing up Singapore.

More than 8,000 people are expected to volunteer for the Public Hygiene Council's (PHC) first national litter- picking event, called Operation We Clean Up! The council organised a similar one-day event last year, but it was confined to the Bedok neighbourhood.

This year, it is setting its sights on rubbish across the island and inviting everyone to show their love for the country by cleaning up schools, parks, offices, void decks and other places.

Many organisations, town councils, schools, firms and individuals have responded to the call and organised cleanup groups at more than 130 locations. Town councils will cease general area cleaning in nearly 70 precincts on Saturday to give the cleaners a rest and show the volunteers on Sunday how much trash there is in a single day in common areas such as void decks.

The PHC will give the cleanup groups items such as gloves, wet wipes, tongs and trash bags. It is also urging those who cannot join the groups to do their part by picking up at least three pieces of rubbish on Sunday.

PHC chairman Liak Teng Lit said a clean Singapore would improve life in other aspects.

"If you look at what has been happening in Singapore - the rat infestations, reports of choked, smelly drains, cockroaches and mosquito breeding - littering plays a key part in all this," he said.

The country's cleanliness has been on the decline despite an army of cleaners picking up after people.

Earlier this year, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong wrote that Singapore is likely to become a "garbage city" if not for the cleaners, after pictures surfaced online of the mess left behind by people who went to a concert at Gardens by the Bay.

Last year, the National Environment Agency issued about 19,000 tickets for littering, almost double the number in 2013.

There were also 688 instances of Corrective Work Orders being imposed by the courts last year, more than double the 261 cases in 2013.

Mr Liak and leaders of environment groups said they hoped the mass cleanup session would stir people to pick up after themselves and others as a matter of course, and also deter them from littering.

Mr Tan Ken Jin, who started the Singapore Glove Project in 2012 where people walk or jog and pick up litter along the path at the same time, said: "You don't have to go way out of your comfort zone to do something. When you're going to work or going home, if you see litter, just pick it up and throw it away."

Mr Eugene Heng, founder and chairman of Waterways Watch Society, which conducts cleanup sessions, said: "Hopefully, down the road, there will be no need for us to go and pick up litter, because there will be no litter to be picked up."


To find out more about the cleanup event this coming Sunday, go to http://www.publichygienecouncil.sg

This article was first published on April 29Y, 2015.
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