Thursday, July 24, 2008

Going Green

The use of recycled bags during shopping has not rubbed off on Singaporeans despites the host of measures implemented by the authorities; the aggressive advertising and publicity blitz to exhort Singaporeans to use these bags and the designation of BYOBDs (‘Bring Your Own Bag Days’) are just some mentions.

Plastic bags are still given freely to shoppers (save on BYOBDS) and shoppers are still lapping up these bags to contain their peripherals. It is sobering to note only a small fraction of shoppers bring their own recycled bags.

The charging of an additional nominal fee for plastic bags on BYOBDs is not enough to encourage Singaporeans to switch to a ‘plastic-less’ shopping as it is deemed not significant an amount to them (as compared to the inconvenience of bringing their own bags).

Recyclable bags were given out in dozens to Singaporeans during the launch of BYOBDs to the extent many Singaporeans may have more than one such bag in their home. It is a shuddering thought to note most of these bags are not utilized or even thrown by some; what a waste of natural resources to produce these bags and what an increased amount of pollution inadvertently caused to our environment by the incineration of these bags once thrown.

Singapore is going and promoting ‘green’, the latest campaign on this island is the conservation of energy as evidenced from the slew of campaigns and initiatives of this green theme fronting the island: BYOBDs, ‘10% Energy Challenge’, ‘Recycling bins’ etc.

‘Going Green’ makes economic sense in this era; international businesses would take into consideration the environmental standards of a nation before doing businesses there. Even for the coming Beijing’s Olympics, the city’s authorities have spent significant time and effort to spruce up the game venues before the actual day as its environmental standard comes under heavy scrutiny and doubts by countries worldwide.

Another related string of campaigns: the anti-littering campaigns, which have been the campaigns of Singapore since two to three decades ago. These campaigns are still ongoing as the government has not been able to wean Singaporeans into the thinking of a socially gracious self. It is still not able to effectively stem the swill islandwide even to this date with such campaigns and education.

The authorities would need to change the deeply-embedded attitudes of Singaporeans towards green issues before success in green campaigns can be witnessed. It is hard to change one’s attitudes and we may still have a long way to go before reaching the same civic-consciousness standards as the Japanese or Swiss.

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