Let’s Keep Clean

Most Singaporeans take pride in the cleanliness of our city, myself included. Whether I am in Singapore or overseas, I would hold my trash till I found a trash bin. There were times when I was overseas, I held my trash all the way back to the hotel because I could not find a trash bin along the way. I want to keep Singapore clean and also the city I am visiting clean by the simple act of not littering. Unfortunately, not everyone living in Singapore thinks that way. Singapore is a clean city because we have hardworking and efficient cleaners.

I remember the moment when I started becoming more conscious of the environment around me was when I started my early morning walks at Marina Bay area. As it was early morning, the cleaners have yet to clear all the trash left behind by the users.

While jogging along the boardwalk in front of Marina Bay Sands, I started picking up the plastic bags and emptied cans and bottles, throwing them into the trash bins, just before they got blown into the water.

View from the boardwalk in front of Marina Bay Sands

I fully understood anyone would want to have a drink, perhaps some snack and sit at the boardwalk in front of Marina Bay Sands to enjoy the view and the evening breeze with their family or friends. I totally get that as I enjoy doing that too.

It’s one thing to have a drink and a good time, gather up your trash in your plastic bag and throw it in the bins provided along the Bay area. It’s quite another to leave everything you brought with you lying around. Not only does it ruin the splendour of the areas such as Marina Bay, the riverbank or the beach for that matter, the trash could be blown into the reservoir, river or sea, causing potential harm to the fishes and other wildlife, and hurting the environment. Or worse, throwing trash directly into the reservoir, river and sea instead of the trash bin.

River Hongbao 2017 at the Marina Bay Floating Platform

Just last month, I was at the River Hongbao celebration. I overheard a conversation between a young boy, probably around eight or ten years old, and his mother.  This is how it went…

Boy: Mum, throw the can into the river
Mum: Cannot. A lot of people here. They are watching
Boy: Just throw. Why aren’t you throwing the can into the river?
Mum: Cannot, a lot of people here. Police will catch. You not afraid of police catching you?

I was shocked and speechless though that last statement did stop the boy’s persistence in throwing the emptied can into the river.

At that very moment, a few questions popped up in my mind. Firstly, why did the kid insist that his mother throws the emptied can into the river? Secondly, why did the mother not teach the kid to throw the emptied can into the trash bin or recycle bin just a few metres away? Instead, she responded that a lot of people are watching and that the police will catch them if they threw the can into the river. Did she just imply that it is alright if no one is watching and as long as they don’t get caught? Has she or her husband thrown trash into the river in front of the boy, as a result, he insisted his mother do it “again”? Well, only the mother has the answers.

Whether there is anyone watching is not important, it is wrong to pollute the environment. I guess the availability of trash bins and recycle bins located a few metres away can’t beat the “thrill” of throwing trash into the river which is absolutely absurd.

I managed to compose myself after a minute or two, I said to the boy calmly,”Boy if you throw the trash into the river, you will dirty the river. When the river is dirty, fishes and other animals living in the river will die. Do you wish to see the fishes die?”

The boy kept quiet and his mother repeated what I said. When I related the incident to my friend, he laughed and was surprised that I did not give the boy and his mother a good lecture.

Below is a screenshot from OtterWatch Facebook page. Did you notice the strip of plastic on the fish that the otter was eating? That strip of plastic was the wrapper for disposable chopsticks.

OtterWatch Post 16022017.png

A picture of plastic trash along the shore of Mandai Coastal area washed in with the tide. These plastic bottles were either thrown into the sea by people out at the sea or from the shore.



I am not a perfect human being. I don’t think I am expecting too much for people to clean up after themselves, leaving the place looking the same before they were there. The best practice would be to place the items that are recyclable into the recycle bin and trash into the trash bin. Of course provided there is a recycle bin nearby. In Singapore, there is no lack of trash bins.

Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.


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27 thoughts on “Let’s Keep Clean

  1. It beggars belief what some folk do, the most dangerous offenders are those that throw trash out of vehicles whilst driving, I have witnessed bottles, both plastic and glass, tin cans, all of the latter not only polluting, but the act its self is life threatening in as much it could possibly cause a traffic accident. Mini buses carrying workers being the biggest culprits. As you and many of your commenters have said, when there are trash bins, why? For motorists, layby’s, or restaurant rest stops provide adequate trash collecting facilities, yet even these areas are abused, drivers emptying car ashtrays whilst parked up. the lists just goes on. So sad!!


    1. Well, I have seen people throwing trash out of moving vehicles when I was a very young kid back where I live. We no longer see that. I guess that has to do with strong governance like fines, surveillance cameras, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a great read! I’ve been thinking about this a bit recently. In New Zealand we have always seen ourselves as “clean and green” and New Zealander’s still see this as a big part of our identity – but the reality is, we just aren’t clean and green anymore! I think that in some ways we have almost taken it for granted that we can be that clean and green country without much effort, when it actually needs to be a conscious and continuous effort.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, seems like we are going through rather similar juncture. Guess we need to keep reminding ourselves and people around us to be responsible in keeping our environment clean.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Fortunately, Singapore is still a clean city compared to some other cities. The challenge I see is that people tend to leave their trash behind after having a good time in public areas. This trend started perhaps in the recent ten years.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I find your post relatable. I can’t stand people who throws garbage not in the right place. Sometimes, i can tolerate it a bit if there are no bins in their surroundings, but there are people who are ignorant enough to throw garbages just anywhere eventhough the bin’s only a few metres away. I think the least and best way is for each of us do it correctly and tell people around us to do it correctly too. I hope people realise that it’s for their own good not to throw it carelessly, and hope many people can do it correctly eventhough no one (police) watch. Thanks for the great post 👍

    Liked by 3 people

  4. We need more than education. It must be a culture, something from inside. The fines and all are well – fine. But it will never change the true attitude of a person. We must find a way to inculcate into the young ones to treat any place as their own home. We are sure the mom of the little boy would not have allowed her son to throw the can around the house!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agree. Unfortunately they may not even be taking care of their own home because there is always a Mother or domestic helper cleaning after them. So instead of boiling the ocean, let’s do our part as individuals, walk the talk, clean after ourselves and urge others to do the same.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I, like you, am disgusted by trash let behind by others. As a hiker, we have a philosophy that I carry with me throughout life. I think it has served me well. It’s called “Leave No Trace.” The idea is to take nothing except pictures, and leave nothing behind except footprints. Thus far, I’ve been thrilled to see how effective this philosophy is when everybody is behind it, and disgusted by the rare scenes (similar to the otter trapped in trash while nibbled on a fish) where trash has negative impact on the environment that goes way beyond damage to scenery.

    I’m so glad to see you sharing this post. And encouraging people all around the world. Let’s Keep Clean.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well, change takes time as the people have been living that way. It is not exactly wrong for them to leave without cleaning as they are at an eatery not a public area. Of course I don’t mean leaving a mess behind and if there is a place to return the tray, then they should do it.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I read your post while waiting for breakfast at a local food stall in VN, where the guests before me left squeezed lime slices and used tissues all over the ground. It’s a common sight in my country, still I find myself very sad every time encountering it. I can’t remember how many times I asked the food stall owners to remind her guests to clean after themselves, some afraid to do so because they din’t want to upset the guests (!!!?), a few others even feel annoyed. (sigh) I know it’ll take a long time for this to change, but when possible I’d say it to the face of whoever littering so that they know it’s not a nice act…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah but the sad thing is the sense of entitlement that people have. Their justification is that they left their mess behind so the cleaners can secure their job. To me, that’s rubbish.

      Liked by 2 people

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