Get rid of 'buy and discard' culture

More Singaporeans should pledge to reduce waste before the effects of global warming become irreversible ("Davos rallies behind need to act on climate change now"; Monday).

Extreme weather phenomena, such as Typhoon Haiyan and Superstorm Sandy, should have jolted us into action, especially as Singapore, which imports most of its food, is affected when natural disasters hit our food-source countries.

I urge government agencies, businesses and individuals to change their consumption habits before it is too late.

Among my friends, it is rare to find one or two who recycle, let alone participate in the active reduction of waste.

Yet, Singaporeans have no trouble changing their habits when they visit countries where recycling is the norm.

Reducing waste can be very easy if the social norms of society are reconstructed.

One might recall the "Bring Your Own Bag" movement, which failed to produce long-lasting effects.

Visit any supermarket these days and you will see plastic bags being given out without a care.

Major supermarket chains should emulate Swedish furniture giant Ikea in charging customers for plastic bags.

Also, the food and beverage industry should adopt more sustainable practices.

Recycling bins should be strategically positioned alongside rubbish bins in shopping malls and schools. Recyclable waste should be clearly listed, as many people are ignorant of what can be recycled.

The "buy and discard" culture must end - for the sake of future generations.

Shermaine Lau Boon Kuan (Miss)

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.

More about