How Singapore Became a Clean City | The Beat
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How Singapore Became a Squeaky Clean City

Singapore has a reputation for being the cleanest and greenest city in Asia. But did you know that gaining those titles, the Lion City was once soaked in swampy and filthy areas? Through the leadership of the country’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the city started an economic change and organized the first “Keep Singapore Clean” campaign. Of course, this was also made possible through the help of volunteers including young children and seniors.

Let’s find out how the city-island maintained its cleanliness through the “Keep Singapore Clean” campaign.




Fines for Littering

people on the bridge in Singapore

Aside from jaywalking, littering is one of the common offenses committed in Singapore. It was in 1968 when the sovereign city-state attempted to moderate littering through imposing fines on offenders. The minimum fine is S$300 (US$217).

Violators who throw minor litters like candy wrappers, cigarette butts, or a piece of paper will pay S$300. Offenders who improperly disposed of major items such as plastic bags, food wrappers, or takeaway cups shall pay S$1,000 or 12 hours community service. In some cases, it can be both. There are also instances when litterbugs are required to wear an orange jersey while cleaning an area to let others know about their violation.

Keep Our Water Clean Campaign

Despite its size, Singapore manages to survive with small resources, including water. With this, the National Environment Agency (NEA) ensures clean water supply through soil pollution control and proper management of pesticides. This project aims to avoid soil pollutants from entering the water system.

Cleanup of the Rivers in Singapore

The trade and commercial activities in the Singapore River have led to massive pollution when various production plants and industries, including street hawkers, dumped their waste into the river. To maintain Singapore’s cleanliness, the cleanup drive aims to curb water pollution on rivers and canals until water is as clear as crystal where fish and plants could grow.



Annual Tree Planting Day

tree planting

Held every first Sunday of November, the Tree Planting Day in Singapore officially started in 1971. This annual event helped maintain Singapore’s cleanliness and conserve the environment by planting 5,000 trees around household areas. This initiative can also provide more water induced from fruit trees, shrubs, and creepers.

Keep Public Toilet Clean Campaign

Launched by the Ministry of Environment (ENV), the clean-up campaign series encourages the public to do their part in achieving a better public toilet around the city-state. To accomplish this goal, the ministry conducted seminars on public toilet design and maintenance, good toilet habits, and cleanest public toilet competitions.

Bans of Chewing Gum

The gum ban is part of a law that also prohibits littering, graffiti, jaywalking, spitting, expelling "mucus from the nose" and urinating anywhere (except in a public toilet). This law is strictly implemented especially for foreigners visiting the city-state.

Even the importation of chewing gum is prohibited in Singapore. Traders are only allowed to re-export to any country provided the dealers agreed with Singapore Customs as an importer and re-exporter of chewing gum and followed certain conditions.

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