Kindness Challenge Day 8: Pick Up Litter

This is Day 8 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge for Nov 2012 where hundreds of participants from around the world get together in spirit to do 14 acts of kindness over 14 days. The challenge is now over, but you can do the tasks in your own time. Visit the overview page for all Kindness Challenge tasks and posts.

Join the Kindness Challenge!

Hello everyone! :D Welcome to Day 8 of the 14-Day Kindness Challenge! ;)

It’s Now Been a Week of Kindness!

Given that today is Day 8, it has now been a week of kindness! How do you guys feel after doing these seven acts of kindness, back to back? :) How do you feel after immersing yourself in kindness for seven days?

Many of you have been telling me (in the comments sections of the daily posts) that you are really feeling the *warmth* from spreading kindness to people around you. That you didn’t realize that tiny acts like this can be so transformational, both to the people you rendered the kind acts to and yourself.

For example, for yesterday’s donation task (Day 7), participant Dolly shared how she decided to give a cleaning lady some cash, who responded in great happiness. Participant ASLO donated a few clothing items to her house help, who responded to her act of kindness with looks of gratitude. Participant Ana-Maria donated $50 in her local currency to an old lady selling handkerchiefs, who was so happy that she filled her bag with packs of handkerchiefs.

All these are probably small acts to us. For the participants who rendered the acts, they were probably no more than passing actions, just like when we invited our friends to join us in the challenge (Day 0), reached out to others for a hug (Day 1), gave up our seat to others (Day 2), wrote thank-you notes to people we appreciate (Day 3), did volunteer work (Day 4), gave a genuine compliment to others (Day 5), and spoke to people whom we normally wouldn’t think of or want to speak to (Day 6).

But to the recipients, the acts meant the world to them. In their minds, they couldn’t fathom how other people would care to do those actions. They were touched beyond words. They were warmed by the small yet heartwarming actions.

Let us continue to spread kindness to people all around us. Let us embark on the second half of the Kindness Challenge with the same, if not more, fervor as before.

Week 1 in Review: Our Kindness Tasks from Days 0–7!

Share your results in the daily threads if you haven’t! All comments sections are open and it’s not too late to share your results for the early tasks such as Days 0, 1, 2, or 3 even! Your comments will remain on PE forever and be read by people all around the world (in turn impacting them for the better).

My Day 7 Review: Donation

Day 7′s task was to Make a Donation.

I was out in the day to meet my good friend (Violet from Lunch Actually) for tea. As I was walking to the meeting destination, I came across a man playing the erhu (a Chinese string instrument). 

Donating to a Street Performer

Usually, I would walk by such street performers without donating. It’s not that I don’t appreciate their music; donating (to street performers) is just not something that I normally do.

So that was precisely what I did—I walked past without donating.

However, a few steps past the man, and I recalled that the task for the day was about donating. While I had already planned to donate to National Cancer Center Research Fund later at night, I thought that I shouldn’t limit donating to just a one-off act. I should donate at every opportunity I get; in fact, I should create opportunities to donate where I can.

Back view of the street performer

So despite having walked to the traffic light, and despite the light having turned green, I walked back to the street performer and made my donation. I think he was a little surprised that I came from behind to donate; I think several people at the bus stop nearby also noticed that I had backtracked just to donate and were staring at me. (I tend to have quite a strong room presence actually; I think it has to do with my height, dressing, natural aura, and I guess overall appearance.)

That might have gotten me a little uninvited attention for the day, but I didn’t mind as it felt good donating to the old man. I hope he felt rewarded and will put the money to good use. :)

Later when I returned home (at night), I then logged in to Run For Hope website to make a donation to cancer research. Run For Hope is an annual run in Singapore organized to raise funds for cancer research; I was contacted by the NCCS (National Cancer Center Singapore team) a few months back to do a coverage about their work, which I’ll be sharing in an upcoming article today. I didn’t want to take part in the run (have other commitments on my plate), but wanted to contribute to the cause. Run For Hope Donation section provides the option to donate solely without participating in the run.

Donating to NCC Research Fund via SG Gives

Donating to NCC (National Cancer Center) Research Fund via SG Gives portal.

Donation to NCC Research Fund

Completing the donation transaction via internet banking.

So there, my acts of kindness for Day 7 on donating. :) While I have made my donations and completed my task duly, I want to emphasize that donating isn’t limited to just yesterday (same for all the other acts of kindness and the respective days they have been assigned).

The act of donating is about being generous with our available resources (be it time, money, blood, or in-kind) and giving them to people who may need it more than us. Even if they don’t, we should still be generous and share what we have with others. What goes around comes around, and I want to stress that we do not live in a world of scarcity.

Meaning, it doesn’t mean that donating $10, $50, or $100 makes you $10, $50, or $100 poorer. It opens up opportunities for other things to enter your life, be it emotional rewards, monetary paybacks, or whatever. You never know. You just never know. More importantly, you have made someone’s life better with your donation. This should be the biggest reward of it all and your biggest motivation for donating to others.

With that said, let’s move to Day 8!

Day 8: Litter


Litter. You see litter every day in your daily life. Even for those who live in clean cities like Singapore (I do), there are times when you see the occasional litter scattered around. For those who live in less-than-clean cities like London, Paris, or New York, the litter-situation can be so bad that you see litter every one step you take. (At least that was what I observed when I was traveling in those cities during my seven-month world trip last year. The train stations at Paris had urine smells while that of New York would have the occasional rat running along the tracks.)

I think none of us wants to live in a trash-filled country or city, just like none of us want to live in a home that is dirty and has litter strewn all over the place. Given that we put great care to put away litter in our homes, shouldn’t we do the same when we see litter outside of our home? After all, isn’t the country / city that we live in our home as well? Shouldn’t the entire universe be regarded as our home?

Today, my challenge to you is to pick up litter that you see. Are you ready to take up this challenge?

Your Task: Pick Up Litter

Pick up litter that you see today! It can be litter you see in the trains (I recall the London Tube and New York subway would have tons of litter), on the pavement, at the food court, litter that missed the trash cans and are strewn around bins, or litter around the bus stop. As long as it’s trash that has been misplaced, pick it up and put it in its rightful place—the trash can.

If there are recycle bins in your country, all the better—discard them in the appropriate recycle bin.

Pick up as much litter as you can manage. (There’s no need to make it your day’s purpose to comb your entire neighborhood of litter—otherwise you might not have time to do other things in your life!) Do as much as you can, within the day, within your capacity.

The point of this task is to get all of us working in creating a cosy home for all of us in this world. After all, the world is our home. Trying to define home as only the space we live in every night only serves to segregate and not unite us. Recognize that our home extends beyond just those physical walls and every ground we walk on, every neighborhood we walk in, every district we step into, etc. should be considered our home, too.

Share Your Results!

What litter did you see today? How much litter did you pick up? How did you feel as you were clearing the litter?

Check out the responses of other participants in the comments section!

After you are done, proceed to Day 9: Write a Letter to Someone Who Has Made a Difference in Your Life!

While you’re at it, check out my article on How To Prevent Waste (here’s the manifesto version).

Image: MBK

  • Celes

    Will be scouring the pavements with a keen eye today for any litter to pick up. It’ll be interesting given that Singapore is already such a clean city. XD Will update on my progress later in the day!

    • Celes

      Goodness. I picked up so much litter today that I felt like I was some vacuum cleaner going around and picking up every litter I saw! In fact, quite a few people were looking at me oddly as I walked around my neighborhood picking up litter as I was going home just now! Will update more in tomorrow’s post along with pictures! :D

      Update: The post is up! Read: Day 9: Write a Letter to Someone Who Has Made a Difference in Your Life, under “My Day 8 Review: Pick Up Litter”.

  • Ngee Key

    I just pick up some litter as I walked to my car this morning. Think I will continue to do so later when have another external meeting. And yes, Singapore is clean, but can be cleaner :)

    • Celes

      Aw that is fabulous Ngee Key! You have illustrated to others that we can easily integrate this act into our daily lives. :D I’ve an appointment / launch party to attend later tonight so I’ll be keeping a look out for litter to pick up too.

  • Bob

    Hi Celes,

    I picked litter last night and do so regularly where I live – what synchronicity. I think just like you Celes, if we all contribute to our environment we live in, we make it a more welcoming and friendly place. When I lived in Tokyo the neighbors would meet once or twice a month to clean up their neighborhood, not only to pick up litter but to sweep, clean and weed their particular area. This made it an agreeable area to live in because there was a feeling of community and I think it also made it safer (Japan is a very safe country).

    I noticed when I lived in my house (I live in a flat now), I would clean and maintain my house along with another neighbor to a high standard, other neighbors followed and it became a more agreeable environment. There was just one house which was an exception, the complete opposite.

    On a positive note, I am always pleasantly surprised by the absence of litter in Chicago, the central area is always immaculate which makes it most welcoming and friendly.

    • Fufu

      Bob, I think it’s really cool how your past neighborhood met up every once or twice a month :) That shows that they were solidarity and friendly people because at my neighborhood if an idea of picking up liter popped up most of them wouldn’t want to because they’d find the heat annoying(Since we live in a tropical island) or find excuses, etc.

      • Bob

        Thanks for your comment Fufu,

        I think that by looking after their neighborhood they encouraged each other to be responsible. I have noticed the same with business people who take pride, they also encourage others to do so. Which is a good positive influence on everyone!

        It is up to us to find reasons why we should look after our community and not be influenced by others.

    • Celes

      Hey Bob, that’s really awesome that your ex-neighbors in Tokyo would meet every month to clean up the neighborhood! I haven’t heard of other people doing that before. Is it a common practice in Japan, or just that particular neighborhood you lived in?

      • Bob

        Yes, I asked the same question when I was in Tokyo. In the area I was living each neighborhood had a community, which may have been the people all living in a group of houses or a particular street. They would meet just for a couple hours on a Sunday once or twice a month. I found the people very more conscious of their environment, than Europeans, one of the reasons is probably due to the limited space.

        I think it is a excellent corporate mentality to develop because we are all connected, whether we do this at home, work or in the community. It is a win-win situation for everyone, where we all take responsibility.

  • JadePenguin

    On the topic of litter – join (or initiate) a mass cleanup event!

    I actually picked up a flying Tesco bag a few days ago (as it’s a pretty big piece of litter) and carried it a few blocks til I found a bin. Will keep my eye out for more over today!

    • Celes

      Good on you for picking up that flying Tesco bag! It’s been a while since I’ve been to a Tesco, having left London last October. I miss the great options and large allies!

  • Dolly Yeo

    On my way back from seeing a client, I went through a clean MRT, once out, fortunately I have a piece of paper towel in my bag, I got ready to swing into action. It was at top of the escalator entrance out of the MRT that I noticed cigarette butts on the floor, I picked it up and realized it was a bit sticky but dry. At that moment what went through my mind was that I could be picking up people’s spit. Yaks! :( Thank goodness my paper towel was dry and I picked up another cigarette butt. As I reached some staircase down to the void deck of my flat I noticed a small aeroplane origami, what a relief! Then there is one more tissue at the entrance of the elevator, that was the last piece till I reached home. That has created some awareness in me that because of people who are willing to do these job as a result, we have a clean environment. Everyone has contributed for each other’s well being. Nothing is small enough to be appreciated. :)

    • Celes

      Dolly, thank you so much for living true to yesterday’s task on picking up litter. I’m so proud of you! :hug: Picking up litter may not be a glamorous act (in some people’s opinions) but I believe it’s about creating a cleaner and more beautiful city, home, country, for all of us to live in. Thanks for doing your part for keeping the environment clean. :hug:

      (The same goes to all of you who took part in Day 8′s task too; I’m so proud of all of you.)

  • Sonah

    We live in a village.While in general the surroundings are clean, you may always come across people who would throw, bits and pieces on to the road.Others get rid of their used stuff while driving, tissue paper or wrapping paper.We had started a campaign to sensitise the public to be conscious of their social responsibility, and the response was quite encouraging. At the same time it was equally important for those who have a vision of proper sanitation in their locality to set the good example of picking up the litter when they come across it, voluntarily and without any grudge or ill feeling. A practical lesson for the defaulters. A kind of call to their conscience. Enthusiasm fluctuates over time and sometime the grip becomes loose.
    In the context of this present challenge, we have decided to wake up and address the issue with renewed vigour. Members response are positive, knowing that they are partners in an international project. We need to maintain the moment with the hope that you will have fewer and fewer people to dirty, and more and more to cleanse.

  • wanxuan

    I went to West Coast Park for a walk. I started from my home. Everywhere was spick and span. No litter found at all (except for leaf litter lol). On the way there, however, I realised I was taking the wrong side of the bus route. So I stopped near Bt Batok. I looked around the bus stop and lo and behold, there was one unfinished cup of bubble tea on the bus stop seat and I quickly disposed of it. Come to think, maybe there was a reason why I took the wrong side hahaha :angel: When I finally reached my destination, I had a leisurely stroll around the greenery. I reached my favourite spot at the seashore and watched the waves lapping at the shore. :) The park was also devoid of any litter although I scrutinised everywhere. I went to McDonald’s instead for some food. I donated some money to Ronald McD’s charity(although I don’t usually do it). Felt good doing it. :) After yesterday’s task, the spirit of generosity hasn’t left me :D Surprisingly, when I was about to reach home, I accidentally found some money :) Also, the bus stop near McDonald’s turned out to be a little cluttered. I threw away cigarette packs, tissue and a McDee’s coke. I felt very happy doing a part for my society. :) Although I didn’t feel very good today(maybe a bit moody :p ), I felt instantly uplifted doing things for people than wallowing myself in my problems :)

    • Celes

      Aww Wanxuan!! Those were such beautiful things you did—throwing away that bubble tea, donating to the Ronald McD’s charity, and clearing away the cigarette packs and other trash! (Funny that one of the trash I cleared yesterday was also a cigarette pack. Hmm?) I feel I’m beginning to know you a little better through this kindness challenge, and that is that Wanxuan is such a beautiful, kind, gentle, and warm person at heart. Thank you so much for joining the kindness challenge and inspiring all of us here with that side of you. :D I feel like we are all basking under the light of your actions!

      • wanxuan

        Awww I’m so touched by your comment that I got a little teary. Thank *you* Celes for conducting this Kindness Challenge. Thank you for giving us this space to get over laziness and contentment and excuses (oh do we all have them) and do more more kindness acts. You reveal the “kindness potential” in all of us. :dance: Let’s continue to spread kindness to others even after this challenge is over. YEA!!

        • Celes

          You’re totally right Wanxuan. :D The key is to continue to spread kindness even after the challenge is over. The challenge is merely the BEGINNING of many kind acts of come. See it as an induction process, if we may. Thanks so much for reminding all the participants about this! :D

  • Narmin

    I guess I am living in a cleanest city ever :) But, still on my to university and back picked up some coca bottles and threw away som garbage I found on the first floor of the building :) that is really cool and useful task!

  • hendro

    Well, I did not manage to pick up any litters at Singapore Suntec City area (almost the whole day at a company) and my way back to home. What a clean Singapore!! But I did return the trays and tables I found on the Singapore Suntec foodcourt table to the place where it is supposed to be. Hope it is counted. :p Cheers

    • Celes

      Returning trays is a kind act in itself and an act of cleaniness and organization!! Kudos to you Hendro for finding a way to integrate the task into your daily life. :D :clap:

  • Ken

    I had to work from home due to some furniture that was being delivered and my garage door needed to be repaired so I had to wait for that guy.

    But I did do little around my house. I live right at the end the street in my subdivision. So while waiting for the furniture delivery guy to unload the stuff I walked over to the side of the subdivision and picked up some trash, and texted a company that comes around to pick up shopping carts that have been taken from local grocery stores. There were two shopping carts from the local super markets in the dead end street. So hopefully they will come by to pick them up and take them back to the super markets. It’s still very odd how they got there. The super markets it came from is actually around two miles away. I was thinking if you pushed this thing all the way here why not just take them home. Why bring them to the dead end street? And two of them as well…. I don’t get.

  • Elton

    Contributed pickup of cups and small souvenir around National Museum Of Singapore during conference I have there. :) Singapore is very clean city and hard to find litter on main streets.

    • Fufu

      I heard Florida is like that as well. I live in Puerto Rico and in Puerto Rico you see the exact opposite. There is bottles, trash and all types of stuff on the floor. I even saw gasoline on the floor and it stinks. It’s nice to know there are countries in which the streets are clean :)

  • Fufu

    I saw a lot of litter today on the way to school and in my backyard. I noticed my school was pretty clean and there’s only 1-2 janitors in the whole school so I was surprised. Honestly I wasn’t able to pick up much litter but I did make my effort in the following ways:

    1) I threw away a piece of paper laying on the floor while taking class.

    2) I was talking to one of my friends and I notice an empty bag of candy in front of her. I pick it up and say “This is false advertisement” and she asks “Why?” and I say “Because it’s empty so I’m throwing it away in the trash”.

    3) I finished eating a snack and even though the trash was 1 minute away I walked towards the trash bin and deposited the snack inside.

    4) Me and some other friends were hanging out when I remember today’s task was picking up litter. I see litter in front of the chair and pick up some bags of chips, candy, bottle caps, etc.

    5) I cut paper for my last class and threw away all the papers that fell to the floor inside the trash can.

    If you wish to read more go to my blog at:

    • Fufu

      I didn’t have a chance to pick up the litter in my backyard until Day 10 and there was a lot of trash! So much I got tired, took a rest and kept on. I must admit I wasn’t able to pick up all the trash as some trash was too tiny. My mom was touched by the act and offered to buy me ingredients so I could bake cupcakes for Thanksgiving. Yum! :)

  • Michael

    I was so encouraged to see your post Day 8 write up on picking up litter!! In fact when I saw your FB picture from that event, I kind of wondered if you’d be picking up litter in the beautiful outfit.

    Well, I did pick up litter yesterday, and I know I will start doing it more now on. However, I can say that I may not have picked up litter in my good outfit had we switched places. The fact that you did it shows how in line your words and actions are. I’m really impressed and inspired! :clap: :bow:

    • Celes

      Aw thanks for your kind words! :D I’m glad my “litter picking” was inspirational in one way or another. :D Perhaps it tells us that we are always able to render kindness wherever we are, whatever we are doing, just that it’s a matter of whether we want to or not? :D

      Thanks for making the effort to pick up litter yesterday by the way! And do join us in the other daily threads and share your results there too. Just 5 more days till the challenge ends now. :D

  • Qin Tang

    I agree that everyone has a responsibility to keep our environments clean. In addition to keep our house clean, we also need to keep our neighborhood, our community, our office, our city, and our country clean.

    While I was at the Woodbury Dance Center tonight waiting for my daughter, I saw an empty coffee cup that was left on the table, and numerous pieces of trash on the floor. I intentionally picked them up and throw them into the trash can.

    Later I was at Lake Middle School for my daughter’s basketball practice, I saw a janitor working. I intentionally said hi to her, smiled at her, to show my respect for her and my appreciation for what she does- to keep the school clean.

  • Bryan

    I don’t know if this counts but living in a transitional house I live with a lot of people. Every now and then you’d find garbage or litter and maybe other things. Today I did a little cleaning up around the house and cleaned up some of the dishes. In a way that’s litter after all. felt pretty good

  • Miss Elf

    While walking my dog I was focused on todays task :) I must say our neighborhood is quite clean, but I managed to pick up two pieces of paper, one plastic bag and one broken umbrella. Last one waited just for me to pick it up and put in trash can :)
    It was fun, it felt good, it was fun watching how other people looked at me like “why is she picking up litter?”. :) I also got to know my self better cause I noticed I still care about what might other people think of me. So picking up litter is a good way of practicing a belief that it doesnt matter what other people think of me :D

  • Netta

    I live in a small community with a population of approximately 300 people. I love summer in this area because myself and a lot of close friends gather at the river in a certain spot and it is a gorgeous, safe place for children to enjoy the water as well. We always keep a bag with us to throw our trash in so we can bring it home with us to discard. Anyone there is welcomed to use the bag. In fact, we insist. :)
    I am proud to say even on our daily walks we carry bags with us to pick up litter. Also, a certain couple that lives in the area has bins outside their home labeled for trash, glass, aluminum, and paper. Recycling is an important part of my daily routine.
    So once reading this challenge, I took my children on a small walk around our area. Everyone had a lot of trash blown over when hurricane Sandy hit the east coast because we received high winds and some snow from the hurricane. We walked around from our house to several of the neighbors and picked up random trash that had been spread around due to the high winds. This was a very good challenge and we also got exercise in while doing this.
    I always remind my children to pick up any stray litter they may find, as long as they are careful about it and don’t pick up sharp or dangerous objects. I hope they will remember this as they grow older.
    I enjoyed this challenge very much.

  • Tracey Ellle

    Ive been participating in the kindness challenge from the beginning and have been excited to be a part of it and make a difference in my world challenge after the other. ive been so blessed to find so many amazing things happening in my universe at the same time. I was glad to get the opportunity to pick some litter at a movie premiere i went for last night. Thanks Celestine for putting this together. You are an inspiration and as you continue to touch and bless others lives you will continuously find amazing things happening to you even in places and ways you never expected. Im a huge fan.

  • Robin

    I’m behind on my tasks this week. I did litter clean up tonight on my street. I hate to admit, but some of it was in my own yard in that I hadn’t picked up. Living on a corner and a fairly busy road, I get lots of things thrown in my yard.

  • Angela Brent-Harris

    I picked up litter at my school where I teach at, in my neighborhood and at the cinema last night. ;)