A hawker centre tries an initiative to get people to return trays. Return a tray and get a deposit back. What happens? They leave the utensils and trash, returning only the tray.
When supermarkets attempt a private initiative to raise price of plastic bags, Singaporeans rebel again. “Oh i’ll just throw my waste down the chute, charge me lah!”
This is the kind of act that babies, children and teenagers do. They would much rather perform an anti-social act than to reflect on their own behaviours.
“When you nickel and dime citizens, this is what they’ll do”, said one comment spotted on Facebook. This is rebel behaviour, just for the sake of it. This is telling an authority, “Hey, you wanna discipline me? try harder!”
And interestingly, neither of these initiatives are government led. The hawker centre tray return idea was conceived and run by Timbre. In the case of the supermarkets, it was a joint project.
Tell me: what is wrong with returning your own trays? You make it easier and faster for the next person to consume their food. You reduce the incidence of birds and flies from making a disaster out of your waste. You make the job of the cleaning uncle/aunty easier (trust me, there’s always a job for them…don’t worry about them being made redundant). You make the entire living environment more sociable, more pleasant and more hygienic.
And what is wrong with paying more attention to how you’ll throw your waste? Why can’t we pay more attention to crushing the cans, folding the cartons and maximising the trash bag? Must one bag only accumulate a few pieces of trash before you send it down the chute?
In many other countries, people don’t depart with their trash…even freezing biological waste for up to a week before it is being collected. In Japan and Korea, people are very disciplined: sorting out the recyclables and packing those that cannot before discarding them. Many of these countries are required to buy purpose built bags for disposal. Even better, there are also “zero waste” initiatives, but these fall on deaf ears.
Why are we so different?
Why do we need to rebel even when these things are conceived for the betterment of society?
Indeed, this is the very reason why we can’t have good things.