Plastic bags are convenient. There was a time about 2 decades ago where people promoted using plastic instead of paper, because they were easily washable. But the proliferation of single-use plastic has created a massive environmental problem. Plastic never fully degrades. This means that ALL the plastic ever made still exist today. Your plastic toothbrush from you were 10 years old? It still exists. Small pieces of plastic, especially, are harmful to marine animals who may swallow the plastic or have their eyes poked by plastic straws.
About 80% of the ocean’s plastic waste comes from Asia. Single-use plastic is everywhere. Plastic straws come wrapped in plastic. Dine-in restaurants or hawker center calls provide disposable plastic spoons. Just look at how much trash you throw out every day. You might feel like it’s no big deal, but when you see the situation from a larger perspective, that is a lot of plastic a day.
According to the National Environment Agency, Singapore produced 763,400 tonnes of plastic in 2017, only 6% of which was recycled. I cannot even comprehend how much trash that is, and this is only plastic trash we are talking about. In Singapore, all waste is incinerated, so it doesn’t matter if it is bio-degradable, paper, or plastic. Singapore’s only landfill – Pulau Semakau – is estimated to be completely filled with incinerated ash and solid waste by 2035. At that point, it’ll be too late, unless we find a new landfill or we start reducing the amount of trash we produce NOW.
One movement that has been gaining traction is BYO, short for Bring-Your-Own. Fairprice gives $0.10 off a minimum purchase of $10.00 for customers who bring their own grocery bags. Some coffee places give a small discount if you bring you own cups. Besides the financial savings of bringing your own containers, the environmental impact you make is huge.
One of my favourite Singaporean environmentalists is Shihui aka Tabaogirl. She’s been featured on Channel News Asia for her dedication to reduce her carbon footprint on the environment. Her Instagram is really inspiring. She counts the amount of plastic she has avoided using by bringing her own containers and bags. Little counters like that to remind yourself of the difference you are making! (◕‿◕✿)
We can all make small lifestyle changes to make a difference. It is as simple as bringing your own bag to the grocery store, bringing your own container to takeaway food or bringing your own water bottle. Singaporeans have been taught the 3Rs since primary school – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The order is deliberate. Reducing our use of single-use plastic, as well as the amount of trash we produce, has more impact than recycling.
If you want to get started on this journey, there is a fantastic local Facebook group called Journey to Zero Waste Life in Singapore. Really amazing resources to help you stop producing so much trash. There is no need to be perfect; it is a journey. You learn and grow, and remember, remember, remember: Don’t let perfect become the enemy of good.
Of course, since this is a corporate blog, I’ll have to plug in something for KPI’s sake. You can consider getting this silicone bag to store your food. I have one. It’s fantastic. I am planning to buy more on Taobao. My colleague in the seat beside is also going to get some to reduce her environmental footprint ヾ(＠＾▽＾＠)ﾉ (No need to be an “influencer” to encourage the people around you to be more environmentally-conscious.)
One bag costs $2.50 on Taobao. I actually bought one from a very remote place in Ang Mo Kio for $6.90 ಥ_ಥ I’ve been using it bring my breakfast to work. Despite its looks, the bag has a capacity of over 1 litre. Admin here is planning to use it for school once this internship ends. After finishing the food, it is very easy to store since it can be rolled to save space. This is perfect if your kids or siblings dislike bringing along containers because they are so bulky.
In fact, you can even roll it up and put into into a small sling bag! Then you can ask service staff to put your bread or egg tart or whatever food that you unexpectedly had a craving for and spontaneously bought into it. Always be prepared, right?
Do share your experience in trying to reduce your consumption of plastic and production of trash in the comments. I would love to hear from you ＼(^ω^＼) You could be helping other readers as well.
If you would like to read about how you can SAVE MONEY, eat delicious food, AND reduce your carbon footprint, read our previous post here.