He knows me only through my connection to litter prevention and this website. I have no idea where he lives or works, what he looks like or what his occupation is. The glimpses I have of him are through the words he writes in an email. Happily married, a smoker (beats himself up about it) and generally quite a private person, he credits his wife and Singapore for changing him from being a litterer to litter-aware. He no longer flicks butts.
A vacation to beautiful Singapore in September 2012 opened his eyes. Regular scanners of our online News Reel know that this nation of three million ranks high for cleanliness standards and low on litter.
A friend will take the time encourage and help you along the way. That’s what Vince did for me, someone he barely knows.
Upon returning from his Singaporean sojourn, Vince stumbled across an article by Christina Blizzard (Nov. 22) in The Toronto Sun about littering, quoting me. He wrote wanting us to know we were both on the right track in our efforts to educate: she, through her meticulous journalism and I with an innovative program that changes littering behaviors.
He tells us, “I no longer discard cigarettes on our streets and sidewalks, nor do I discard gum. But it took a trip to Singapore and the words of my wife to make me change :)
“We need to change our thinking and actions before this city loses its high ratings. Torontonians live in a illusion that our city is clean and do not realize that on the clean scale, we are not as clean as they like to think.”
Vince then described how the government of Singapore addresses two big litter scourges: cigarettes and chewing gum.
- If you are seen by a policeman throwing a cigarette anywhere other than in a city provided ashtray, you will be fined.
- City ashtrays are designed to be appealing to the eye, no cigarette butts can be seen, and the design also eliminates trailing odors.
- Most impressive is the people of Singapore love the city, and they will stare down anyone that litters the streets or sidewalks. You will feel uncomfortable (and that is how it should be)
- Singapore has banned chewing gum simply because people tend to spit them out on the streets and sidewalk.
- The city has been cleaned of all gum stains. Both roads and sidewalks are spotless. While this may seem drastic, as we should be free to chew gum if we want, it was the only way to invest in a clean city.
Vince suggests that Toronto dwellers should be polled to see what is more important to them: chewing on a piece of gum or restoring a clean city. He wants to see more articles in the media about littering. And he proves that attuning one’s litter awareness radar to trigger an attitude shift is possible and painless.
His closing line made my day, a simple,
“Thanks, Sheila, for your crusading work with your program www.litterpreventionprogram.com .”
Sure is nice to feel appreciated.