What will it take to go green?

So far, various campaigns have failed to change people’s attitudes and habits over the years.

MALAYSIANS use an average of nine billion plastic bags a year. Yes. Nine billion. Let that number sink in. That’s more than the world’s entire population.

Actually, scratch that, we probably use more than nine billion. That figure is based on plastic bags that are taken away from hypermarkets and supermarkets.

If you include department stores, night markets, wet markets or even the mamakshops where you pack your teh tarik or mee goreng, this figure should at least double.

This should not be tolerated, at least not for a country that has aspirations to become a developed nation.

For sure, the Government has tried various means to curb plastic bag usage – the no plastic bag day (first introduced in Selangor in 2008 and subsequently nationwide in 2011), recycling campaigns and recently, the waste separation regulations instituted in various states.

While all these measures have been trumpeted as initiatives to protect the environment, none of them have actually succeeded. Despite the millions spent in awareness campaigns, Ma­lay­­­­sians, to a large extent, continue to have a lackadaisical attitude towards “green” initiatives.

A recent study by Monash University showed that the “No plastic bags on Saturday” policy has raised awareness, but it has had a negligible effect on reducing plastic bag use. The wide-ranging ethnographic study found that the policy’s objectives, of reducing waste sent to landfills and reducing pollution, had not been achieved.

To verify this study, The Star sent a number of our journalists to various Klang Valley supermarkets, hypermarkets and department stores on Saturdays for the last three months.

These journalists found the consumers’ indifference shocking – it was hard to find people who actually brought their reusable bags when shopping. They found that the general perception of consumers was that they were aware of the “no plastic bag” ruling, but they either didn’t care or found ways to circumvent this ruling.

These methods include using the white plastic rolled bags meant for vegetable and produce sections to carry their shopping items, paying 20 sen for a plastic bag and cramming everything inside, and also using the shopping trolley to transfer their groceries to their vehicles.

Obviously, we Malaysians are an ingenious lot when it comes to saving 20 sen!

Two new rulings will come into force in January next year. A polystyrene food packaging ban will take effect on Jan 1 in Selangor and KL, and additionally the “no plastic bag” ruling on Saturday will be extended to seven days a week in Selangor, also effective Jan 1.

by BRIAN MARTIN.

Read  more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/on-your-side/2016/08/26/what-will-it-take-to-go-green-so-far-various-campaigns-have-failed-to-change-peoples-attitudes-and-h/

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