The Amount Of Cardboard A Cardboard Uncle/Auntie Needs To Collect To Survive
 
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The Amount Of Cardboard A Cardboard Uncle/Auntie Needs To Collect To Survive

Ming Feng
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How has your weekend been so far?

While the rest of us are deciding on what to have for our next meal, the seemingly high cost of owning a car and the price of BTO, a tiny group of Singaporeans have a different worry.

Cardboard collectors in Singapore
Source: Pinterest.com

Cardboard Uncles And Aunties

Back hunched from old age and long hours of bad posture, a group of elderlies started their day early or the night before, collecting cardboard boxes and drink cans.

To this group of people, their livelihood depended on the mountain of cardboard stacked on their trolley, towering over their frail body. Any fluctuation of selling prices for used cardboard and drink cans has a direct impact on them having a roof over their head or having food for the day.

A recent post on Facebook shone a bit of light onto the frugalness of these cardboard collectors.

Happy People Helping People community
Source: Facebook, Happy People Helping People Community

While the rest of us are deciding on what to have for our next meal, a group of Singaporeans are living on $1.08 a day.


How Much Cardboard Uncles And Aunties Earn?

cardboard collectors
Source: onesingapore.org

Ever wondered how much income can you make, collecting cardboards and drink cans?

How much cardboard uncle/auntie makes

Market Rate
Cardboard$0.04/kg
Drinking Cans$0.90/kg

According to Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy’s latest finding, here’s how much a household needs to meet their basic needs:

Demographic of householdHow much you need for basic needs
Single elderly household$1,379 per month
Coupled elderly household$2,351 per month
Single person

(aged 55 - 64 years old)
$1,721 per month

Source: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

That is an unreasonable amount of cardboards and drink cans required.

Demographic of householdHow much you need for basic needsAmount Of Cardboard RequiredAmount Of Drink Cans Required
Single elderly household$1,379 per month34,475kg per month1,532.2kg per month
Coupled elderly household$2,351 per month58,775kg per month2,612kg per month
Single person

(aged 55 - 64 years old)
$1,721 per month43,025kg per month1,912kg per month
Cardboard Collector
Source: theonlinecitizen.com

To meet basic household needs, a cardboard uncle or auntie needs to collect an average of 34,475kg worth of cardboard per month. An average of 1,149kg per day, 7 days a week.

Should he focus on just drinking cans, that is an average of 51kg worth of drink cans per day, 7 days a week.


Cardboard Collectors – A Reflection Of A Bigger Problem In The Society

The first step to every problem is to recognise that we have one. Painting a beautiful picture over a society problem does nothing to solve it.

COLLECTING CARDBOARD AS A FORM OF EXERCISE
Source: donlow-illustration.com

NO! Collecting cardboard is not a form of exercise, nor is it for leisure. These group of Singaporeans did it to survive. The real struggle of these Singaporeans in need should not be downplayed, to sweep the issue under the carpet for various agenda.

No one in the right mind collects rubbish to exercise. Not when one is old and ailing. Not when the activity is strenuous and exhausting on their body.

A bunch of elderlies do not wake up overnight feeling the urge to exercise through cardboard collection when they can be getting better quality of life.


How Can We Help Cardboard Uncles And Aunties?

Singaporeans can do better as a society by first, recognising the problem and creating awareness around it. We need to be mature enough to leave any political agenda out of this and look at it as it is.

  • There is a bunch of elderlies that is forgotten by our fast-moving society.
  • They no longer have the skills to stay relevant in the workforce.
  • They have difficulty earning enough to pay bills and to have 3 meals a day

We can all address this together.

ComCare Long-Term Assistance

The government already have come initiatives in place such as the ComCare Long-Term Assistance, where cash assistance is provided for the needy.

Household SizeRates
1 Person$600
2 Persons$1,000
3 Persons$1,400
4 Persons$1,750
Additional children's Assistance$150 additional per child

To qualify for ComCare, one is:

  • unable to work due to old age, illness or disability
  • have no means of stable income and little or no family support
  • an elderly person who receives only a small monthly payout from other sources such as CPF Retirement Sum/ CPF Life, Pension, ElderShield, Lease Buyback Scheme, and the monthly payout is lower than the prevailing LTA rates
  • an elderly whose children are low income themselves. The children must be supporting their own families and each has household income of $1,900 and below, or per capita household income of $650 and below
  • a Singapore Citizen or a Permanent Resident

If you know of someone who might be able to use this help, link them up with a social service worker or office.

There are, of course, limitations to the government’s ability to fully solve the problem with each and every cardboard collector.

Here’s how we can help!

Happy People Helping People

Happy People Helping People is a 100% volunteer-run group that aims to reach out to needy elderly living within our society.

Happy People Helping People helps these seniors with their daily meals and monthly bills.

Food sponsor Happy People Helping People
Source: Facebook, Happy People Helping People

One can take up the task to be a meal sponsor at $93 per month, to sponsor daily meals to these elderlies. This ensures that they get at least that 1 good meal every day.

On top of that, Happy People Helping People arranges monthly outings for these seniors to give them something to look forward to every month. It aims to connect these seniors in need with Singaporeans who care enough to befriend them and provide help where help is needed.


A Deeper Problem

Cardboard collectors are the most obvious representation of the forgotten generation. Being the face of poverty, it reflects the casualty of a fast and ever-progressing society where skills and knowledge we possess today can easily be obsoleted tomorrow.

The advancement of technology will only speed up this painful process and leave more people behind if they are unable to catch up with the pace of society.

As individuals, we need to look to bulletproof our retirement plan better with better personal finance planning. Kicking off your personal finance journey early is no longer a choice. It is a must.

We should constantly look to upgrade ourselves with the necessary skills to stay relevant.

The education system will need to look at ways to constantly keep up with society’s needs and better predict skills required in future. This way, we can then arm Singaporeans with the proper skills and knowledge required to survive. Our outdated education system has a lot of work laid out ahead of them.

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About Ming Feng
A stint in Bloomberg gifted me with a beer belly, which only grew larger when I moved on to become a Professional Trader. Now I turn caffeine into digestible finance-related content.
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