You might see Alice’s friends passing her heaps of plastic bottles. Nope, she’s not a hoarder, she’s an environmentalist.

The journey to Alice’s interest in keeping the environment green started in 2007, when Alice first wanted to understand the culture of the senior residents living in one room flats. She made her first visit to the residents living in MacPherson. Stepping out from the lift and even before entering the flats, she was greeted with a surprise. Plants of all sorts could be seen crowding up the corridors of these flats. Soon after, another shock was brought to her as she entered the household of the seniors living there. She saw that their homes were clustered with junk such as plastic bags, boxes, and bottles. The senior residents shared their belief that these items would be useful in the future, and it would be a waste to throw them away. 

With the plants and the clutter outside and within their homes,  Alice realised that the seniors were at risk of being infected with dengue, having the perfect environment for dengue mosquitoes to breed and spread. She wanted to help these seniors and decided to take matters into her own hands. She contacted her fellow volunteers in South East District Adults Network (SEDAN) and with their help, she began developing a green movement program.

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Alice decided to launch a terrarium-making programme to recycle the empty bottles and boxes collected by these elderlies. This would allow the seniors to keep their passion for plants, while decluttering their homes and reducing the number of breeding sites in the area. The program was very receptive by the seniors in the community as it featured their favourite activity, gardening, with  little efforts required to maintain a terrarium. During the program, she would get the seniors to bring boxes and bottles from their homes and teach them to create beautiful terrariums. Each terrarium is unique in its own way and displays the creativity of its owner. 

The seniors, in turn, will teach other South East residents to create their own terrariums. In fact, 100 senior citizens from South East, Macpherson are now proficiently trained to teach. The residents would then host a monthly exhibition and competition in the South East District to feature their own terrariums. This activity has helped forge strong bonds amongst residents as they participate in the program together.

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The terrarium-making programme is not the only “green” programme that SEDAN does. SEDAN would also go to Senior Activity Centres, Day Care Centres and Family Service Centres to collect plastic bottles for recycling. Understanding the importance of educating the youth, who is the future generation in keeping the earth green, SEDAN also promotes the importance of recycling to school students. They would teach them simple acts such as switching off the lights when not in use, or turning the tap off when washing one’s hands, would make a huge difference for our environment.

In fact, they have successfully gotten the environmental club from Bedok Green Secondary School to join them in collecting and recycling plastic bottles. The students from the club are also trained to share about the green movement with the public during Clean Green Singapore which happens yearly.

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‘SEDAN teaches the children so they can learn and teach their peers’ Alice assented. 

Now, whenever she is not participating in environmental programs, she would be encouraging her colleagues and friends to play their part for the environment. She sadly shared  that most working adults make excuses to avoid caring for the environment and stressed that they should start taking small steps such as creating the habit to use recycled materials in their working environment and household.

‘Adults need to do more and become inspiring role models for their kids.’ Alice emphasised.  

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