In Japan, recycling is routine, and mindfulness of consumption habits is inculcated from a young age, be it at home or in school. There have even been initiatives to recycle school uniforms.
Although more than 60 per cent of Singapore's waste is recycled ("Bigger push to get S'poreans to recycle"; May 15), it seems that this is mostly done only after waste is collected and manually sorted.
There are high costs incurred and much energy expended not just in incinerating and transporting waste to the offshore landfill, but also in the labour involved.
While the clever design of our waste management system has undoubtedly prevented waste from overflowing onto the mainland, we can achieve greater efficiency and sustainability in waste management as a nation through individuals taking the responsibility to reduce, reuse and recycle (3Rs).
Our lack of a strong recycling culture can be remedied by nurturing a love for our local environment and reinforcing the concepts of reducing, reusing and recycling from a young age.
Singapore's education system is world-class, and schools provide the optimum environment for children to learn and develop knowledge and skills necessary for responsible waste disposal.
I hope schools under the Ministry of Education will consider more field trips to nature reserves and even the Pulau Semakau landfill.
The Civics and Moral Education curriculum could also include aspects focusing on the importance of protecting the environment and the impact of overwhelming waste.
In addition, it would be good if students could be given more opportunities in the classroom to practise the 3Rs when disposing their waste, so they can learn how to sort their trash into recyclable and non-recyclable materials.
This can later be extended to common areas like halls and canteens. A stall could even be set up for students to donate their old textbooks and worksheets to be reused and recycled.
I hope that the importance of decreasing our waste footprint will be increasingly recognised in Singapore, such that we can instil values in the younger generation to pay greater attention to their consumption habits and take action to alleviate land pressures and hygiene issues associated with waste.
Rachel Lee Rui Qi (Ms)