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My family and I have been living in Bukit Batok since 2016.

We noticed over the past year or two that littering has become a real problem in our neighbourhood and felt helpless and frustrated over this.

So one day, with my 6-year-old daughter, husband and helper, I decided to start going around our neighbourhood with old plastic bags to pick up any trash we see. This became a weekly habit and now we’ve been doing it for a year.

Image Source: Shutterstock / Africa Studio

As we always cover similar routes within our neighborhood, we expected that as we went on our rounds, the amount of trash we collected would eventually go down.

To our surprise, it didn’t. In fact, the amount of rubbish we encountered was always the same or worse, even increased.

Finding a solution

On National Day this year, I posted on Linkedin about taking a clean-up walk with my daughter and was surprised by the number of likes, comments and direct messages I received from people who were also facing the same littering issue in their neighbourhoods.

Speaking to these people who reached out gave me the impetus and courage to start a WhatsApp group #SGTrashMob, which is open for anyone interested in litter picking to join.

I also set up a TikTok channel (@sgtrashmob) where I document my litter-picking journey and the amount of trash we collect each week.

Image source: @sgtrashmob on TikTok 

Wishing for greater awareness

We are still a small group, with seven families on board. But we are 100% committed to this voluntary effort and have been sharing our initiative through word of mouth as well as relying on our TikTok channel to gain a greater outreach.

Our objective is as simple: To raise awareness about littering among residents. It is our responsibility to keep our neighbourhoods clean.

It has been heartening so far to receive many positive encouragement and “Thank You”s from passers-by during our walks and online too. This shows us that people are aware of the problem and do appreciate our efforts.

Though our current reach is small, we hope to make it easy for like-minded volunteers to join us and target to grow our community to at least 50 families by the end of 2021.

Here’s how to join!

Interested volunteers can join our WhatsApp group to share in our experiences and support and cheer each other on.

Image source: #SGTrashMob

You don’t even need any special equipment: you can go around your neighbourhood to pick up trash using old plastic or jute bags, some gloves and a pair of tongs. Alternatively, equipment can be borrowed for free at these Clean Pod locations.

Image Source: Public Hygiene Council Singapore

As an advocate for sustainability and giving back to the community, I speak to many people who like the idea of playing a part to do something for our planet but might not necessarily know how to get started.

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Litter picking can be a great starting point and anyone who has tried before can testify to it being a fun activity that keeps us fit and active while doing good.

Any help to spread the word about what we do to a wider community is appreciated and together, let’s create greater awareness so that everyone can become more mindful before carelessly throwing anything away in public.

Carolin Barr

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Top Image: Tiktok @sgtrashmob