On 29 and 30 October 2011, the North West Community Development Council (NWCDC), National Environment Agency (NEA), National Parks Board (NParks) and the Public Utilities Board (PUB) jointly launched the Clean and Green Singapore (CGS) 2012 Carnival at the Petir Park.
The two-day event was meant to kick start the 2012 event themed "Let’s Make A Difference!". It also marked the launch of the community-led "Keep Singapore Clean" initiative, which will galvanize different stakeholders and members of the community to develop and lead initiatives to encourage communities to take action to keep the environment clean.
On 29 October morning, after the official opening ceremony of CGS 2012, NWCDC also launched its Recycle @ North West programme at the same location. Tzu Chi Singapore was invited to the event to set up an environmental education booth to share with the public on proper recycling methods and promote environmentalism.
At around 10am, about 30 of our volunteers had got the booth ready with recycling infoboards and recyclable classification signs set up neatly at the left corner of the park, while not far from there lies a pile of used bottles, newspapers, plastics, and cans which caught much attention from the public.
Singapore has developed from a fishing village in the 1960s to a lush garden city with advanced public facilities and infrastructure. Tremendous efforts had been put into maintaining environmental cleanliness during these 40 years of development. To ensure that citizens can continue living in a clean and beautiful environment, the National Environment Agency has been actively engaging its different stakeholders to promote environmental education in schools and communities. Clean and Green Singapore is one of the major activities of their promotion efforts.
The NWCDC plans to work with Tzu Chi, grassroots organizations and other environmental protection organizations to expedite its 10-year Eco Plan which started in 2009. Under the new collaboration with Tzu Chi, the CDC plans to establish 45 recycling points and recruiting 2000 volunteers over the next three years to bring eco-friendly message to the constituency's 90,000 households.
During his speech, the Mayor of the North West District, Dr Teo Ho Pin, encouraged the North West residents to participate in recycling and take environment protection as their personal responsibility for creating a clean and beautiful living environment. He also shared that the recycling efforts not only shows that they care for the environment, but is also a charity move as the proceeds of the effort will be used to support needy students.
Speaking on why Tzu Chi was chosen as their partner for the decade-long campaign, Ms Crystal Teng, the NWCDC general manager, said that the council is impressed with Tzu Chi’s environmental concept and efforts (the Foundation currently hosts 19 recycling points in Singapore and conducts recycling activity every month in these points) and hopes that the initiative would draw more youths and elderly to join other community events and further strengthen community cohesion.
There at the environmental education booth, several Tzu Chi volunteers were seen explaining to the public about Styrofoam utensils being hazardous to both the environment and their health.
Salimah and her friend were dropping by the exhibition after their morning jog that day. They were curious about the exhibition and had stayed at Tzu Chi's booth for quite a while. “I'm very happy that I have learnt so much about the sorting of recyclables today. I am going to bring down the recyclables to Tzu Chi recycling points next month and learn to do recycling sorting from you all.” Her friend kept nodding at the side and said that she wanted to join the meaningful act too.
"What’s better than participating in activities that not only allow you to protect the environment but helping the needy too, right?” Salimah added smilingly.
The ceremony ended at about 12pm, but the promoting works of the 5R principle (Rethink, Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle) will never end. It will follow the shadows of the blue and white uniformed volunteers deep into the communities.