Small kid, big ideas. At six years old, Bowen Beckman is already making an impact on the world.

Gayle  |  Singapore
Published 2014-12-26 12:00:20

Meet Bowen Beckman.

Every Tuesday morning, he arises before the crack of dawn, just so he can start his route collecting bags of recyclables from the top floor of his condominium in Singapore.  Spurred by Bowen’s passion to save the environment, the residents have rallied together by laying out their old newspapers and recyclable waste on Monday nights.

Image Credit: Kurt Beckman
Image Credit: Kurt Beckman

After an hour of going door-to-door, Bowen then meticulously sorts out his collections into recycling bins for the different materials – paper, plastics and metal – before settling in for his breakfast and pre-school routine. His little project, which the condominium’s management green lit in August this year, has also inspired other children to do the same. 18 other children in the apartment blocks of his condominium now get up early in the morning to do their bit for the environment.

Bowen and his friends do their bit for Mother Earth in the wee hours of the morning. Image Credit: Ashokan Ramakrishnan
Bowen and his friends do their bit for Mother Earth in the wee hours of the morning. Image Credit: Ashokan Ramakrishnan

What brought on Bowen’s eco-friendly crusade?

A documentary he watched on polar bears losing their homes as a result of ice caps melting. His efforts are wholeheartedly supported by his father, Kurt Beckman, who helps him with a wheeling bin for the heavier waste bags on his weekly recycling jaunts.

Image Credit: Daily Mail
Image Credit: Daily Mail

The Vulcan Post speaks to Bowen, or Bo as he is affectionately called at home, about his environmental project. We gotta say, we love his refreshingly candid answers!

 1. Hello Bowen, nice to meet you! First of all, can you tell us more about yourself? How old are you and what do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to play around. And I am six years old. It’s great to be doing this recycling service… it’s really fun!
2. Why did you decide to start to collect recyclable waste from your neighbours?
Because it’s good for the Earth!
3. Were your neighbours into recycling before you started your project?
No. A little bit though. But now, a lot! Some of the people I go to, they only have a little bit of recycling. Lots of others have a lot… It’s really easy to recycle newspapers, but they are really heavy.
4. What did you have to do to get this project going?
I had to write a letter to the board of directors, made flyers and go door-to-door for sign-ups. And then, we also had to send them a SMS reminder which my Dad does. At the end of the month, I send out an invoice.
Bowen's earnest, handwritten letter to the Condominium's Management. Image Credit: Kurt Beckman
Bowen’s earnest, handwritten letter to the Condominium’s Management. Image Credit: Kurt Beckman
5. How much do you invoice your clients?
If they don’t pay,  it will cost them more but the original one is $2. I had to give two of my people $6, but a couple of them $4… because they never pay.
6. Was it difficult to wake up so early? How did you make sure you would wake up on time?
Kind of… My dad wakes me up.
7. What is the hardest part about collecting recycling bags every week?
Lifting the heavy newspapers.
8. We heard that you managed to get some of your friends in the same condominium to collect recycling bags too. How did you convince them?
Erm.. we had a movie night then I went to all the talks. At the movie night, we also watched The Lorax. The Lorax was about cutting down trees.
[The talks Bowen mentioned are a series of training sessions on recycling for the other children in the estate, as well as a sharing session where the children got together to share their experiences. During the training sessions, the children were also treated to a screening of The Lorax.]
9. How old are your sisters?
Since I’m the only boy, I have two younger sisters and they are… the older sister is five, and my younger sister is two.
10. Do they help you to recycle now? If not, how would you encourage them to join you?
No… I’ll teach them!
11. Through your recycling efforts, you have raised $72, of which $50 is going to your dad’s school-building project in Kenya, which is very noble of you. What made you decide to do that?
Since my Dad said we did not have enough money to work on the school, the school finally came to a stall. I hope to get it started again.
12. For people who are new to recycling, what advice do you have to get them started?
Hmm… recycling bins! Right now, we recycle paper, plastic and metal. Papers are really heavy… because they are newspapers and newspapers are heavy! And I also see lots of newspaper men when I’m doing my recycling project. I give them the newspapers.

13. Did you do anything interesting today?
Hmm… I went on a boat ride and caught plastic bags and recycling stuff out of the Singapore river.
[Bowen just returned from a tour of the Singapore reservoir with the Waterways Watch Society, whose role is to monitor the water condition and rubbish levels of the fresh water system.]

Bowen collects floating rubbish with Mr. Eugene Heng, Chairman and Founder of Waterways Watch Society (WWS), whom started WWS 17 years ago. Image Credit: Kurt Beckman
Bowen collects floating rubbish with Mr. Eugene Heng, Chairman and Founder of Waterways Watch Society (WWS), whom started WWS 17 years ago. Image Credit: Kurt Beckman

No doubt, Bowen’s sense of social consciousness is a result of his father’s direct influence. An American architectural designer who moved to Singapore four years ago, Kurt has his own personal project to build a school for children in rural Kenya (mentioned earlier in the interview with Bowen).

Watch this video to find out more about the school-building project:

Bowen is donating $50 out of his recycling fund to his father’s project. If you would like to play a part in Mr Beckman’s school-building project, you can reach him at his website.

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