The Tea Bag Tree of Bukit Merah View

After the Cleaner Appreciation event yesterday afternoon (see post below), I took a walk around the common space at blks 128, 129 and 130 Bukit Merah View and checked out the environment.

Was dismayed to see this palm tree adorned with tea bags, obviously thrown from a higher floor and which had snagged on the leaves and branches. It was like a Christmas tree except that instead of pretty ornaments, this poor tree was festooned with used Dilmah tea bags!

Was it really so difficult, one wonders, to lift the tea bag out of the mug or cup, and carry it a few feet to the rubbish container that must surely be in the home?

It was ironic to encounter this just moments after the cleaner appreciation event. It reinforces what I said in my previous post about how difficult a cleaner’s job is. They have a hard enough job without having to deal with deliberate littering like this.

The tree has since been de-bagged. The culprit, though, has yet to be bagged.

The only clues at the moment, given the location and the number of tea bags in the tree, are that the culprit lives at blk 129 Bukit Merah View in one of the units facing Lower Delta Road and likes drinking Dilmah tea! The challenge, you can see, is rather like trying to find Paddington Bear by following a trail of marmalade jars.

To this person, I would like to say: please stop throwing tea bags out of your home:

First, it’s unsightly;

Second, it’s inconsiderate to your neighbours. They live in the same neighbourhood. The trees, shrubs and greenery were planted for all to enjoy and take pleasure from. Throwing your rubbish onto the greenery in the common space spoils it for everyone else;

Third, it is inconsiderate to the poor cleaners. As a result of your actions, other people will have to clean up this mess. “Other people” in this case means the cleaners. (Please see their pictures in the post below.) Their work is hard enough as it is, often carried out in the hot sun. They now have to do this additional cleaning up. Unlike litter on the floor which can be swept away, these tea bags are tangled up on the leaves and branches, hanging out of reach from the ground. This means a cleaner has to climb up a ladder and untangle or cut the strings by hand in order to remove them, one by one. For safety reasons, another cleaner, who could have been deployed elsewhere, will have to be around to keep the ladder steady and assist with the removal.

This could all have been be avoided if there was a simple consideration for others, and the expending of just that tiny little bit of energy to properly dispose of the tea bags after use.

Some may ask about enforcement. I will certainly ask the agencies to look into this. But here again, let me highlight the difficulties. In order to enforce, you have to identify the culprit. We don’t know from exactly which floor the tea bags were thrown, save that it has to be one of the units above the level of the tree top. This block is on the edge of a steep slope that leads down to the road, so there is no opposite block or any other structure from which to mount surveillance cameras. The agencies can certainly try, but do consider the time, effort and expense that has to be incurred in order to do this.

And if you stop to think about it – this is a matter where the need for enforcement should not even have had to arise in the first place. It is really about mindset and attitude.

Whilst other estates may not have this unique species of tree, they have similar littering-related problems.

Insofar as littering is concerned, the real measure of cleanliness ought not to be how often or quickly litter is cleaned up; it should be how much litter there is to begin with – which goes back to how each one of us regards and takes care of our estate. If each one of us does our part, things will be so much better for all.

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