Motivation needed to change habits

Supermarkets here have been selling reusable shopping bags for quite a while now, but have continued to give out plastic bags at no charge.

Given the option of paying $1 for a reusable bag or getting a free plastic bag, it is no surprise that shoppers opt for the latter.

Unlike Mr Francis Cheng, I do not think charging a small amount of five cents to 20 cents for a plastic bag is going to deter people from patronising that shop (Shops with plastic bag charge could lose out; Sept 7).

Rather, the effect of being asked "would you like to buy a plastic bag" might motivate people to stop using such bags.

It brings to the forefront the message that using plastic bags is unnecessary and a detriment to the planet.

I do not expect a change in behaviour overnight; a habit takes time to develop. But we need a motivating factor to change our habits in the first place.

Since Britain imposed its plastic bag charge, the use of plastic bags has dropped by more than 80 per cent. This shows that a charge is effective.

Furthermore, if places like Kenya, Rwanda and Kuala Lumpur can impose a complete ban on plastic bags, why can't Singapore?

Alisandra Khairuddin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2017, with the headline 'Motivation needed to change habits'. Print Edition | Subscribe