Trash 'donations': When CNY spring cleaning exposes dirty habits of residents
Keeping Hope Alive founder says volunteers are being exploited to get rid of trash
Chinese New Year spring cleaning means more work for cleaners and some charitable groups as home owners discard old furniture, some of which are unfit for use.
Founder of volunteer network, Keeping Hope Alive, Ms Fion Phua, 50, told The New Paper yesterday she normally receives five requests a month from people who want to donate used furniture.
But during festive periods, she can receive up to 30 donation offers a day.
What frustrates her is that some of these items are so badly damaged or filthy, they cannot be given to anyone.
Her teams have made many trips only to find broken shelves, torn mattresses and furniture infested with bugs.
Ms Phua said: "Spring cleaning season is the worst. People make use of our energy to throw away items they don't want."
Sometimes, people get angry when their donations are rejected.
Ms Phua said: "They are not being generous. They just want to get rid of what they don't need."
Cleaners in housing estates also see more unwanted bulky items during festive periods.
A cleaner in Choa Chu Kang told TNP he has been collecting bulky items from homes to be thrown in large waste containers.
The cleaner told TNP: "These large open-top bins usually take a week to fill, but (during festive periods) it only takes two to three days."
Similarly, a cleaning supervisor in the estate said: "The amount of bulky items my men have had to clear has increased by almost three times this season."
That means they work longer hours, clearing bulky items from void decks and ensuring pathways are not blocked and to prevent fire hazards.
A Woodlands resident, who wanted to be known only as Ms Goh, told TNP: "When I was on the way to work (on Tuesday morning), I was greeted by at least six cockroaches on a discarded sofa set at the rubbish chute of my block."
The situation is better at Admiralty.
Housewife Sandhya Pidakala, 51, who has been living there for 22 years, said: "Even during the Chinese New Year period, we rarely see our neighbours dumping and cluttering the rubbish area downstairs.
"I think everyone tries to dispose of their rubbish properly."
To prevent bulky items from accumulating, many town councils offer removal services.
Residents can arrange for items to be collected outside their homes. (See report at right.)
The National Environment Agency (NEA) has also been reminding home owners doing spring cleaning to properly dispose of refuse, including large furniture or household items, to prevent mosquitoes breeding .
In a statement, NEA reported an increase in dengue cases in the past three weeks, with 345 reported in the second week of 2020.
MP for Nee Soon GRC, Madam Lee Bee Wah, told TNP yesterday: "Bulky items disposed of improperly could lead to dangers such as pest infestation, falling on passers-by (and) blocking fire escape routes.
"As dengue cases and a lesser-seen dengue serotype (strain) have been on the rise, mosquito-breeding is especially a concern this year."
How to dispose of unwanted items
Home owners can discard their unwanted items through various channels.
Bulky item removal services are available at many housing board estates.
Town councils such as the Choa Chu Kang Town Council offer the service for free for their residents, who can apply for items to be removed on an online form.
Applicants place unwanted items outside their flats for town council workers to collect and dispose of.
These items must not include renovation debris, removal of built-in features, or extremely large furniture such as three-door wardrobes.
Another option is an initiative by Sembcorp and the National Environment Agency called Cash for Trash.
There are more than 100 designated Cash for Trash areas to exchange items for cash at the various exchange rates.
Some of these locations are in the neighbourhoods' resident committees such as Woodlands and Bishan.
The items include paper, clothing, soft toys, aluminium drink cans, small electrical appliances and plastic and glass bottles.
Charities such as The Salvation Army offer door-to-door collection services for bulky items.
For more ways to dispose of unwanted items, visit www.nea.gov.sg - OSMOND CHIA & HIDAYAH ISKANDAR