Educate the young to see recycling as a way of life

A more attractive recycling bin, even one that comes with flashing lights, is not likely to result in an overall increase in recycling rates if the practice is not part of people's way of life ("Recycling bins get creative touches"; Sept 9).

So, it is heartening to read that some families here are taking the initiative to recycle and reduce waste, and are teaching their children to do likewise ("The green house effect"; April 3).

Their actions tell us that not only is recycling not a hassle, but that certain waste can also be made into things of utility, such as toys, photo frames or bags.

Our grandparents lived in an era of frugality; they rarely bought things on a whim or things that they did not need.

The range of consumer products, which include fast-moving consumer products such as canned food and bottled drinks, was not as extensive then as it is today.

As the wave of consumerism marches on, the amount of waste thrown out by households is only going to increase exponentially unless we do something consciously and collectively to ameliorate the situation.

Our schools are the best places to start changing the future perception of recycling.

Teachers should teach students the importance and urgency of recycling and that it is the responsibility of every person to protect the environment.

In science classes, for example, while teaching about the carbon cycle, teachers could tell students that fluctuations of carbon dioxide levels in the early history of the earth likely resulted in a few mass extinctions. Teachers could further explain how our increased carbon footprint today, coupled with the man-made destruction of forests worldwide, could also have the same effect.

In addition, the correct method of recycling should be taught.

In this way, students can go home and start to influence their parents, friends and relatives to recycle, reuse and reduce, thereby helping to boost the rate of domestic waste recycling.

Lee Kay Yan (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'Educate the young to see recycling as a way of life'. Print Edition | Subscribe