Free Umbrella Sharing Initiative Shut Down Due to Inconsiderable Users Not Returning Umbrellas

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A free umbrella sharing initiative at Joo Chiat is shutting down due to inconsiderate individuals.

It appears that the concept of “sharing” did not resonate with users, as many opted to hoard the free umbrellas rather than returning them to the designated kiosks.

Just another day when we realise, once again, that the world is not made of roses.

Umbrella Sharing Initiative Ceases Operation in Less Than 5 Months

The Joo Chiat Sharella, an umbrella sharing initiative, was launched by the Siglap South Community Centre Youth Network in collaboration with umbrella-sharing service provider ShareLah.

In November 2023, they set up 18 kiosks with approximately 10 umbrellas each across Siglap South, Telok Kurau and East Coast.

Source: Facebook (Eastsiders- Siglap South YN)

This noble initiative aimed to provide residents with free umbrellas during the rainy season, operating on a pay-it-forward basis. Users were expected to return the umbrellas to the kiosk after use.

However, the number of available umbrellas dwindled rapidly soon after the initiative’s launch. Instead of the expected 10, the kiosks often had only one or two umbrellas left.

The Siglap South Youth Network had to continually replenish more than 1000 umbrellas across all kiosks due to the low return rate.

When speaking to MS News, Joo Chiat Constituency Office lamented that the most significant challenge they faced was the “poor and anti-social behaviour” of a few individuals who failed to uphold their responsibility of returning the umbrellas after use.

Moreover, the office emphasized that the continuous replenishment of umbrellas was unsustainable.

Despite these challenges, the Joo Chiat youth volunteers are committed to exploring more initiatives that would strengthen community bonds and cater to residents’ needs.

Notices of the impending shutdown were displayed across all kiosks.

A Reddit user posted a picture of one such notice, expressing their disappointment.

Source: (r/SingaporeRaw)

The notice announced the closure of the service by the end of February due to the persistently low return rates. In a final plea, they encouraged residents to donate umbrellas by leaving them in the kiosks.

How to Encourage Responsible Usage of Community Services?

In response to the closure of the umbrella sharing initiative, Reddit users shared their thoughts.

Some acknowledged the benefits they had derived from the initiative and expressed sadness at its discontinuation.

One user pointed out that “Any kind of service that relies on individual goodwill will never work in Singapore,” drawing a comparison to Japan, where values of community and responsibility are instilled in children from a young age.

Another user suggested the implementation of a deposit system when borrowing an umbrella. Under this system, residents would scan an umbrella and input a deposit. Failure to return the umbrella would result in the forfeiture of the deposit.

Notably, there was another umbrella sharing initiative, Nestia Shared Umbrella, which adopted this approach. Users had to download the app, scan a QR code at the kiosk, and pay a $9.90 deposit to rent an umbrella. Upon return, the deposit would be refunded.

It’s unfortunate that measures involving monetary consequences often prove to be more effective in ensuring responsible use of community services.

Similar approaches are also employed in other community services, such as Anywheel, where users must scan a QR code and input a $10 deposit to unlock a bicycle. After use, the bicycle must be returned to a designated spot and verified through a QR code.

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