Singapore is often lauded as a clean and green city. Everywhere we go, the streets are swept clean daily and one can easily reach a rubbish bin within mere footsteps from another. However scratch beneath our shiny sparkling surface and you will see that all this has been achieved only through the
painstaking hard work of our army of cleaners who clean up every day after us. Despite many years of public education to encourage people in Singapore to adopt good habits like not littering and returning our own food trays when at the hawker centre, this social etiquette is still lacking in
In the coming years as elderly cleaners retire and the supply of foreign cleaning labour gets restricted due to border restrictions brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic, there may not be any more cleaners left to clean up after us in the future. What can we then do to address this looming manpower crunch and public hygiene crisis?
Greater personal ownership is needed. Everyone needs to play their part and not leave it to cleaners to keep our public spaces clean and hygienic. Do not leave litter lying around on tables, seats, benches and waterways. Take your rubbish with you and promptly bring it to a rubbish bin for proper disposal. Rubbish belongs to the rubbish bin and nowhere else.
The older generation may have memories of the littered and polluted Singapore River landscape of the 1970s. It took more than 10 years and almost an entire generation for us to completely transform the dirty Singapore River area into a booming waterfront landscape of today with wildlife and otters who call the area home. A clean environment is possible if each of us puts in effort to make it happen. As we observe World Water Day 2021 this coming March 22, let us make a pledge to ourselves not to litter, to keep our public spaces clean and maintain our community spaces and waterways vibrant and clean.