Kids can be anti-litter ambassadors

Whenever a crowd gathers, there are bound to be complaints about the litter left behind ("After the party, 300 cleaners collect 30,000kg of rubbish at Marina Bay countdown event"; ST Online, last Friday).

I am sure there are sufficient punitive measures and campaigns against littering through the years. But, somehow, the message does not stick.

Is there any way to make the anti-littering message stick better? We just need to find the right messenger. I propose that this be our children.

We have been instilling anti-littering values in our schoolchildren.

We need to go a step further and encourage them to become ambassadors to take the message home to their siblings, parents and grandparents.

For a start, we can put in place programmes like "adopt a park or housing estate" into the curriculum.

Schoolchildren should spend some compulsory hours every week doing community work to clean up the adopted park or housing estate.

This would be a direct way for children to experience the social ills of littering, and we can ingrain in them a sense of social responsibility and care for our home.

And if parents see their children picking up their litter after them, it would be a powerful visual deterrent, and they will think twice before flicking away cigarette butts or dropping tissue paper on the floor.

Ng Tze Yik

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2016, with the headline 'Kids can be anti-litter ambassadors'. Print Edition | Subscribe