SINGAPORE: In this neighbourhood, large municipal banners are being transformed into everyday items like bags, lanterns and tissue boxes.
It is part of a Zero Waste Masterplan in Nee Soon East to upcycle banners into new products while helping women who are unable to work, Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng told CNA.
Project Sew, an initiative that started in 2015, had been repurposing some banners before the masterplan was implemented.
"They have already been upcycling some of the banners, but this year I launched the Zero Waste Masterplan and took the decision to make sure all the banners are upcycled," Mr Ng said.
Before the initiative was in place, old banners were thrown away.
"The main aim of the Zero Waste Masterplan wasn't really about recycling, but rather to reuse and reduce,” Mr Ng explained.
HELPING THOSE IN NEED
Aside from benefiting the environment, the project also helps those in need — mainly women who are unable to work, including single parents, the disabled and all-day caregivers.
“The project gives these women an opportunity to earn a living by supplying them with a sewing machine and provides them with materials and sewing lessons,” Mr Ng said in a Facebook post.
"For a lot of them, it's hard to get a full time job because they have young kids. This gives them a chance to make a livelihood at home to make things to sell," he explained to CNA.
Nee Soon East hands the old banners to lower income families, who sew the banners into bags. It then buys the bags back from the families and uses them at events, Mr Ng said.
The bags are also sold at the events - from S$2 for a small pouch to about S$40 for a big bag. Proceeds from the sales are processed and distributed by Nee Soon East and go towards helping lower-income families, Mr Ng added.
“Since 2015, about 50 families have benefited so far – about 10 families were given sewing machines by Nee Soon East so they could work on the bags," the MP said.
One bag in particular, stood out.
“I told them not to use my face as a bag, but I guess they tried to be funny and did it,” Mr Ng laughed. “They were very happy to show me that bag during the Christmas party.”
Project Sew and Sembawang Family Service Centre (FSC) are the two partners behind the making of the products.
The volunteer-driven Project Sew also creates rugs from old T-shirts, lanterns from red packets and bags from 3-in-1 coffee/tea bags.
Mr Ng added that about S$1,500 worth of A4 zip folders and pencil cases made from the banners have been ordered from Sembawang FSC by Nee Soon East.
The family centre has also produced 200 bags so far for an upcoming Edusave Awards ceremony.