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Updating Singapore's calendar of environmental events with #LepakInSG

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Thanks to Ho Xiang Tian's online calendar, you'll never miss another environmental event again.

Not many know that Singapore has beaches littered with plastic bags, old fishing lines, and even abandoned fridges and televisions. 

It may come as a shock to most of us who believe our 'Garden City' is spotless, but piles of rubbish washing up on our lesser-visited beaches is a reality, as is the need for volunteers to help in their cleanup. 

"Beach clean-up events require lots of manpower and it mainly comes from volunteers, which is usually an unstable source of manpower," said 22-year-old Ho Xiang Tian, the co-founder of #LepakInSG

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Heaps of trash were found along a non-recreational beach at Pasir Ris. Marine trash tends to pile up due to the lower maintenance. 
PHOTO CREDIT: HO XIANG TIAN 

Sipping on his cup of coffee at a café, Xiang Tian shared with Youth.SG more about his green initiative. 

"In hopes of drawing interested volunteers in the environmental community, #LepakInSG provides a calendar of all the environmental events in Singapore which includes our self-organised events as well," said the laid-back youth. 

Xiang Tian's interest in environmental matters sparked off at the age of seven, after reading a book on keeping our environment clean. This led him to study environmental and water technology in Singapore Polytechnic, and sustainable infrastructure engineering in the Singapore Institute of Technology. 

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Xiang Tian at a mangrove cleanup exercise organised by International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
PHOTO CREDIT: HO XIANG TIAN 

Xiang Tian was also actively volunteering during his time in polytechnic and got to know many people from the environmental community. 

"Through my volunteering experiences, I realised how much the community wanted an environmental events calendar," he said. 

Along with his co-founders from polytechnic, Nor Lastrina Hamid and Gracie Low, Xiang Tian started running #LepakInSG in 2016. 

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#LepakInSG streamlines the numerous environmental events in Singapore into a single calendar. 
IMAGE CREDIT: SCREENSHOT FROM #LEPAKINSG WEBSITE 

Starting #LepakInSG was surprisingly straight-forward for the team and required little preparation. 

Xiang Tian said: "All we had to do was to collate the upcoming events and insert them into the calendar before sharing them with the environmental community." 

#LepakInSG was initially just an online calendar containing the dates of upcoming environmental events. But the team, who were more used to volunteering at outdoor events, soon grew restless staring at computer screens. 

The passionate youth said: "As soon as we started managing the calendar, we could see why nobody wanted to do this. It was routine work and started to get mundane." 

To spice things up, they decided to organise their own events to add to the calendar. 

"At the start, we organised activities such as a Pokémon GO nature trail where we went around with participants discussing about animal trafficking while catching Pokémon at the same time," said Xiang Tian. 

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Their Pokémon GO nature trail enabled participants to learn more about the real-life inspiration behind Pokémon characters. 
PHOTO CREDIT: HO XIANG TIAN 

With time, Xiang Tian and his co-founders were organising more educational and meaningful events for the community at least once every two months. 

Just last year, they ran a year-long activity with #LepakInSG's volunteers called Sea Our Shores, in light of the International Year Of the Reef

The Sea Our Shores volunteer team conducted a series of workshops, supervised and guided by Xiang Tian, to inspire youths to take action in protecting Singapore's shores. 

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"The Blue Nudge! workshop was organised to enlighten participants on the issue of marine trash, so as to gently nudge government agencies to take the right actions," said Xiang Tian. 
PHOTO CREDIT: HO XIANG TIAN

Thinking back on all of #LepakInSG's events held since August 2016, Xiang Tian said: "I'm glad that #LepakInSG's events have been doing well so far, and I only got my volunteers to thank for that." 

Even when some of Xiang Tian's volunteers had to leave midway through planning due to their other commitments, others continued to work hard to make the events a success. 

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Xiang Tian and his team of volunteers whom he described as "a passionate bunch". 
PHOTO CREDIT: HO XIANG TIAN 

"This has made me appreciate the volunteers who are extremely committed and passionate about what they are doing. They keep the events running so all's good!" said Xiang Tian cheerfully. 

Even with the success of their events, Xiang Tian assured us that the #LepakInSG calendar will still continue to run as he continues to look for ways to improve it for the good of the environmental community. 

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Xiang Tian interacting with guests at his Clean and Green Singapore Carnival booth in November 2018. 
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/BRENDA TEO 

"I know that people do use my calendar because when I go for events, random people do come up and thank me personally for creating it," said Xiang Tian, humbly. 

Such instances are what motivates Xiang Tian to keep #LepakInSG running and gives him hope that the environmental community will continue to grow. 

The ambitious youth said: "Ultimately, I hope that my calendar and events will be able to spread awareness so that more people will be involved in the environmental community to take action on environmental issues." 

BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: HO XIANG TIAN

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