If there is one thing Singapore is known for, it’s for being clean and green. And it didn’t get that way by accident.
There’s a veritable army of cleaners and road sweepers out there every day, ensuring that everything is as close to spic and span as possible. There are also plenty of hefty fines for those foolish and careless enough to litter in the first place.
And of course there are annual government campaigns to encourage Singaporeans to take an active part in keeping Singapore clean and green. These campaigns go up for tender every year and both local and international agencies compete fiercely for them.
Clean & Green Week 2001 was no exception. That particular year the National Environment Agency (NEA) wanted to focus on recycling. And the brief was to find a way to encourage people to put things like empty drink cans, plastic bottles and papers into their respective recycling bins.
My solution was to take a very lateral approach to the challenge and get these objects to make a personal appeal to the the television viewer.
Instead of just being thrown away, if these relatively humble items were recycled, they could be ‘reincarnated’ as something much more exciting.
A mere aluminum drink can could become part of a sports car.
A basic plastic bottle could be reformed into the casing of a computer.
A daily newspaper could have a second life as a sheet of art paper.
To sum everything up, I wrote the slogan – “Don’t throw away my future. Recycle me!”
To my delight, NEA and the acting Minister for the Environment, Mr. Lim Swee Say, were very taken with this concept and adopted it wholesale.
And in the true spirit of recycling, the bottle, can and newspaper characters I created (and drew) went on to enjoy an extended lifespan for 2 or 3 years after the campaign officially finished, appearing on bus backs, stickers and post-it-note pads.