SINGAPORE – From soft-spoken aunties and cat-lovers to company bigwigs, the 104 volunteers share one passion – keeping Singapore clean and stopping litterbugs in their tracks.
They keep their eyes peeled for people who discard trash indiscriminately, and are quick to tell them to do the right thing and bin it.
Among them is cleaning service provider Sharon Kee, 48.
“People think cleaning is easy – it’s not easy,” said Mrs Kee. “So I wanted to educate people on this. Besides, given my profession, I’ve got to set a good example.”
Her littering pet peeve: tiny bits of litter like the circular tabs from parking coupons and cigarette butts. “Big debris is easy to pick up, it’s the small things that are the worst,” she said.
Community volunteers agree that when it comes to littering, it is the small stuff that adds up. Litterbugs usually toss items like cigarette butts and packets, disposable cups, plastic bags and tissue paper.
For retired nurse Rosalind Ng, 70, it was seeing a well-dressed woman blithely discard a plastic bag in a park that steeled her resolve to become an anti-littering proponent.
“She just dropped it on the flower bed, and the fact that she was dressed so nicely somehow made it worse,” she said.
The volunteers, who hold warrant cards that authorise them to take litterbugs to task, have gone through the same training course as National Environment Agency enforcement officers, said the NEA.
A total of 104 people from non-governmental organisations involved in environmental sustainability efforts have gone through training, and 83 have been issued with authority cards so far, said an NEA spokesman.
The 57 men and 47 women are from the Public Hygiene Council, Waterways Watch Society, Singapore Kindness Movement, Singapore Environment Council and Cat Welfare Society.
First published in The Straits Times – 5 November 2013