For many who know me, they know I love Germany. Not just for the awesome wursts I’ve tried (no pun intended here), but for how civic-mindedness and social responsibility is built into German societies. Yes, you may argue that the Germans can sometimes be too regimental and uptight about a lot of things. But no one can take away my admiration for how they sort their trash! I understand that the Scandis do it as well but I’ve only experienced that in Germany first-hand since I’ve lived there for a while.
Every time I throw something away, I am made to think – is this paper, plastic or glass? Which rubbish compartment does it belong? Ok, do I have to separate the plastic cap on this milk carton from its paper body? You become a little neurotic. But I’d argue that of many things one can be neurotic about, it might actually be healthier than having disposal become automatic and simplistic.
We all know plastic bags are bad for the environment; plastic many-things are bad for the environment. We use them because they don’t get destroyed easily. But it is precisely this attribute which makes them an environmental hazard. We use plastic bags every day, and we throw them away every day.
I was reading up about plastic bag bans in parts of the world. We would expect the progressive first worlds to have led the march against polyethylene. But guess what? The Californians are only making the choice this November. (Yes, along with their Trump Clinton decision.) France has embraced the ban, along with some regulation about donating food leftovers from supermarkets not too long ago. (Yes, France is doing pretty well on my good books.) And Australia is trying to have more states adopt the plastic ban.
On the other hand, countries like Rwanda, Somalia, Kenya and even China and India have already implemented bans of single-use plastic bags on their citizen. I am a little doubtful here about the ones that have been implemented by China and India. But Rwanda has apparently done a superb job at that – it is, in fact, a prohibited item to bring into the country. (Of course, there are your black markets to uncover, but black markets exist for almost anything illegal, right?)
There’s an interactive map of places that have action against plastic bags in this article by the Sydney Morning Herald.
I turn back to Singapore once again. Plastic bags are a norm everywhere. You walk out of the supermarket with plastic bags after plastic bags of items. If you buy a few bottles of coke from NTUC, the auntie at the cash wraps your plastic bottles with two, and sometimes three, layers of plastic bags. We really don’t flinch one bit when it comes to giving them out. And dumping them into the bin once we no longer have need for a carrier. Admittedly, supermarkets are trying to encourage the use of recyclable bags and NTUC has implemented the Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) campaign, reducing the use of plastic bags by 10million in 2015! You receive a $0.10 discount when you bring your own bag. I wonder, though, if it might be a lot more effective if they made shoppers pay an additional $0.10 for the plastic bags instead.
Anyway, here is a mockumentary made about the life of a plastic bag, which I really like – The Majestic Plastic Bag.