When I travel to other countries like Korea or Australia, I find it amazing that they charged for the use of plastic bags and wished that supermarkets in Singapore could adopt this practice.
But could Singaporeans live without plastic bags? And is it possible to adopt a zero waste lifestyle here?
Back in the days, as long as I could remember, my parents would have a small trash bin beside the kitchen sink which contains food scraps while cooking and wastes from our daily routines such as food packaging and styrofoam boxes from take-outs; this was a common sight in every household in Singapore.
Also, our takeouts from hawker centres or coffee shops tend to be in plastic containers and styrofoam boxes.
Fast forward to 2018, sustainable/package-free shops and news of the high use of plastics are popping up time and time again in Singapore.
"About 420 tonnes of plastic bags or 2,640 plastic bags every three seconds were being disposed of in Singapore last year." - Channel News Asia, Talking Point
Majority of plastic wastes are not recyclable when they get sent to recycling plants. According to sources, the count of unrecyclable waste last year was 94%. That is because most plastics that get sent to recycling facilities contain food and oil contamination.
So how can you do your part to reduce the use of plastic waste and home and start adopting a zero-waste lifestyle in Singapore?
5 Ways to Reduce Waste at Home:
1. Use reusable bags at grocery stores or wet market
It's common to see people taking more plastic bags from the counter than they need. Do your part and say 'no' or bring your recyclable bags. I know NTUC Fairprice gives a 10cent discount on your total bill if you have your own bags. It may sound very little, but if you accumulate these savings for the entire month or year, they may add up and bring you huge savings!
2. Use bio-degradable trash bags
Back to the topic of using plastic bags to discard trash at home; if we say 'no' to plastic bags at supermarkets or coffee shops, how do we discard our trash? Not to worry, I have seen bio-degradable trash bags which can be a great substitute. If your workplace uses the black trash bags, consider bringing this eco-friendly matter up to supervisors or anyone in charge. Like the above, a little goes a long way!
3. Invest in reusable containers
My mum collects and buys a ton of Tupperware, and this makes it easy for us to store left-over food or cooking ingredients in the refrigerator. You can also use these containers or mason jars to store loose food items that you bought at the wet market. Additionally, you can also place your cooked lunch into these containers which can help you to save money eating out.
4. Use 'Tingkat' for takeaways ("Dabao") at coffee shops or hawker centres
As mentioned above, usually our takeouts from food vendors are placed in plastic containers or styrofoam boxes. To reduce such wastage, consider bringing out a Tingkat or a reusable container that you have invested in to buy your meals. Plus, you can save that additional 10-30cent charge that most shops charge now if you have your takeaways in plastic boxes.
Protip: In any given scenario that you have your takeaways in a plastic container, wash and reuse them at home. If they are oily, soak them in soapy water for a few minutes or hours so it will be easier to get rid of the oil.
5. Say "NO" to unnecessary mail
We often get flyers in our letterboxes or front doorstep; most of the time we would throw them away or have them lying around in our house. If we don't need them, why take them? Place a sign on your door or front gate that says "No flyers please" to avoid having the postman or flyer distributors increase your waste at home.
Did you know you are also able to lock your letterbox opening to avoid having junk mail? I know my parents do that to avoid having flyers in our letterbox! Perhaps you can try that out? However, I'm not sure if all private property or HDBs can do that. You may want to check yours out as each residential estate differs.
Among the five methods recommended above, which of them are you currently practising or plan to adopt?
What are other great ways that we can reduce our waste at home and lead a zero-waste lifestyle? Share them in the comments below and let's do our part to save the earth!