Two schemes to make Singaporeans more eco-friendly

Keeping a lookout for litterbugs are volunteers (clockwise, from left) William Wan who is general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, Rosalind Ng, Quek Ngor Koon, Michelle Tay, Liak Teng Lit (chairman of the Public Hygiene Council and head
Keeping a lookout for litterbugs are volunteers (clockwise, from left) William Wan who is general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, Rosalind Ng, Quek Ngor Koon, Michelle Tay, Liak Teng Lit (chairman of the Public Hygiene Council and head of the Keep Singapore Clean Movement), Tony Soh, Lily Lim and Sharon Kee. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Two initiatives were kicked off on Saturday to encourage Singaporeans to be more environmentally friendly, in conjunction with the launch of Clean and Green Singapore 2015.

The first, called the No Waste Days Challenge, encourages Singaporeans to pledge to make a conscious effort not to waste food and to reduce their use of disposable items.

Members of the public can make pledges at Clean and Green Singapore carnivals that will be held around the island throughout this month. They can also upload photographs of themselves being eco-friendly on social media.

The National Environment Agency said it aims to collect 50,000 submissions and pledges by June next year, and is seeking companies to make donations to charitable causes when certain donation milestones are met along the way.

The second initiative, called the Bright Spots Challenge, aims to increase the number of litter-free Bright Spots to 500 by the end of next year from the current 300, by getting more schools, organisations and individuals on board.

First launched in 2012 by the Keep Singapore Clean Movement, which is led by the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), the ground-up initiative encourages people and companies to adopt communal spaces and lead by example to keep them clean.

Enough role models taking care of such bright spots will hopefully create peer pressure to cause a mindset change, said PHC chairman Liak Teng Lit.

"We can't change Singapore as a society overnight; I think Singaporeans are spoiled, with the town councils and hawker centres cleaning up after them," he said. 

"But hopefully we can change things bit-by-bit... with all these bright spots, good behaviour will grow and spread outwards, and also convince the sceptics."

Mr Liak cited the example of Khoo Teck Puat hospital, where he was formerly chief executive officer. Nine in 10 people who eat at the food court there return their trays, whether they are staff, patients or residents.

"Where there is some peer pressure and social norms for you to do things in a certain way, it works," he said.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who launched these two initiatives on Saturday, similarly urged Singaporeans to step up and do their bit for the environment.

He also unveiled the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, in which the Government is committing more than $1.5 billion over the next five years to achieve targets such as reducing household water consumption and increasing the domestic recycling rate.

But the success of all these schemes largely rests on the individual, said PM Lee.

"The government can build chutes for more convenient recycling at home, but we have to use them and practise the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle," he said.

"Together, we have to develop new norms if we are to be truly clean and green."