To all my fellow Singaporeans and foreign friends, do you think Singapore is really a clean and green city? On the surface, it seems like our city is litter-free and has plenty of trees and shrubs that gave us this urban garden city title. It is only reasonably so that we should be embracing this green city and keep up to an eco-friendly and sustainable way of living to keep this garden city greener and thriving. In doing so, we are also setting a good example to others on the importance of balancing urbanisation with ecological sustainability.
We’ve been doing great so far but there’s still more improvements to be made, in particular, educating our own people on going green and taking initiatives to keep our environment clean. And it all starts with refraining from tossing the empty packet drinks and plastic bags into our waterways.These were the very rubbish I picked up from our waterways, along Kallang basin.
My colleagues and I went for a staff VIA (values-in-action) or our so-called community service a couple of days back and we worked with Waterways Watch Society to pick up litter along our waterways. Glancing at our waterways, we joked that we might have to throw our own litter into the river so that we have something to pick up later while we are kayaking in the waters. I mean, how is it possible that our waterways are cluttered with rubbish when it looked so pristine?
But guess what? Tonnes of rubbish are collected from our waterways every week. I couldn’t remember exactly if our guide said 10 tonnes or 100 tonnes of rubbish collected per week but one 1 tonne itself is a lot of rubbish accumulated in our water bodies.
Shocking? Very shocking indeed. I knew as citizens, we have yet reached that stage of embracing recycling and making a conscious effort to keep our environment clean but not to the extent of taking our clean environment for granted. And you may ask if that’s the case, why Singapore is so clean?
We have no shortage of cleaners. Thanks to all the hard work and sacrifices of our cleaners who come mostly from foreign countries, they are the ones who have been picking up after us. Are we becoming this ‘maid-generation’ where we have to rely on others to clean up the mess for us? We need to instil some social responsibility in us and it has to start by disposing of your rubbish appropriately.
It’s disgraceful and at the same time, it triggered a series of pollution impacts to our environment. Dead fishes trapped in plastic bags and snails stuck in aluminium cans. Isn’t this a red signal for us to stop throwing litter into our waterways? Our country needs to know this. There’s no better way out there than to see it for yourself.
The litter mainly gets accumulated at Kallang basin where some of the waterways meet. Thus, whatever rubbish that was thrown along Kallang River or Whampoa River would all be channelled to the water basin where most of the rubbish are found trapped among the marshes at the sides of the waterways.
My partner and I found plastic bags, rubber tyre parts, aluminium cans, packet drinks and plastic straws all strewn along the sides of the riverbanks. It’s a dirty job that we all need to experience it for ourselves if we call this our home.
This littering problem can be resolved if each and every one of us make a conscious effort to keep our environment clean. It should be imparted as a habit to clean up ourselves. Don’t leave rubbish behind especially at open space outdoor events but pack it up in plastic bags and hold on to it till you spot a bin and dump into it. Start carrying recycling bags to reduce the use of plastic bags which I’ve been practising and hope you, too, would start looking into this.
We shouldn’t just be educating the young but also us adults who are role models to the younger generations to come. We certainly have an important role to play and it doesn’t require many sacrifices or effort. It’s just cleaning your own area so that others can enjoy.
Kudos to the volunteers at Waterways Watch Society and the cleaners who’ve been working day and night to keep our city clean.
“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”