Local Volunteer Group Reveals How S’poreans Exploit Them During CNY Spring Cleaning

Chinese New Year (CNY) is coming soon and most of us would have probably started spring cleaning our homes in preparation for house-visiting. This could possibly mean clearing out things you wouldn’t want or even donating certain items to those who need it more. However, according to a local volunteer group, the items that are donated are often not reusable, and they claim that Singaporeans exploit them during CNY spring cleaning.

50-year-old Ms Fion Phua is the founder of the volunteer group Keeping Hope Alive, and in an interview with The New Paper, she shared that she usually receives five donation requests a day, but this number jumps up to 30 donation requests a day during the festive season.

Donated Furniture Cannot Be Used

While it may seem like a really good thing that more people are willing to donate their stuff, it’s actually not because Ms Phua found herself sifting through the large amounts of furniture donated, only to find that most of them are so badly damaged or dirty that they cannot be passed on to anyone else.

According to her, her teams have made countless trips to people’s homes to collect their old furniture for donation, only to realise that the shelves are broken, the mattresses are torn, and the furniture is infested with bugs.

She said, “Spring cleaning season is the worst. People make use of our energy to throw away items they don’t want.”

She even added that people apparently get pissed when their donations aren’t accepted, and said, “They are not being generous. They just want to get rid of what they don’t need.”

Image: Giphy

You would have thought people would be more considerate than to make use of volunteer groups to do their dirty work for them. 

Common Sighting By Cleaning Attendants

According to cleaning attendants in the different housing estates of Singapore, unwanted bulky items are a common sight, especially during the festive season.

One cleaning attendant in Choa Chu Kang shared that he has been collecting bulky items from the large waste containers, adding that the large open-top bins take just two to three days to get filled up as compared to non-festive seasons where it would usually take a week.

Image: Zero Waste SG (Image used for illustration purposes only.)

In order to clear all the bulky items to ensure that pathways are not blocked and that they don’t become fire hazards, cleaning attendants have also had to work longer hours.

If you don’t already know, many town councils actually offer removal services to stop bulky items from accumulating and blocking pathways. You just have to call them up and arrange for the items to be collected outside your home.

This is definitely more considerate than telling a volunteer group that you have furniture to donate and raising their hopes only to disappoint them when they realise that the furniture cannot be used by anyone else. 

A Breeding Ground For Pests

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has been reminding those doing spring cleaning to dispose of items properly in order to prevent mosquitoes and pests from breeding.

NEA has recently reported a rise in dengue cases in the past three weeks, with 345 cases reported in just the second week of 2020.

Ms Goh, a resident in Woodlands shared that she saw at least six cockroaches on a sofa set that was left at the rubbish chute of her block, which proves that pest infestation will happen when you don’t dispose of bulky items properly.

How To Dispose Of Unwanted Items

If you have things that you want to clear out from your home because you no longer want them, don’t immediately call volunteer groups to tell them that you want to donate your old furniture.

Be sure to check your furniture first and ensure that they aren’t too badly damaged or dirty before you give them a call. You should also think about the reason why you’re even throwing out the piece of furniture in the first place.

Is one of the wheels faulty? Will the chair break if someone were to sit on it? Has the wood on the shelf chipped so badly because of insects living in it?

For bulky furniture that cannot be donated, you can consider contacting your town council.

The removal service is usually free and you can apply for the items to be removed either through an online form or by giving them a call. However, these items normally do not include renovation debris, removal of built-in features, or extremely large furniture such as three-door wardrobes.

An alternative to that would be an initiative called Cash for Trash by Sembcorp and the NEA.

They have more than 100 designated areas for you to exchange your items for cash at different exchange rates. You can exchange paper, clothing, soft toys, aluminium drink cans, small electrical appliances, and plastic and glass bottles.


Now that you know more about how to properly dispose of your items, hopefully volunteer groups like Keeping Hope Alive won’t be exploited again during CNY spring cleaning.

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