Reject plastic, use paper

I read with apprehension the special report on the environmental threat to marine life and human health as a result of increasing unrecycled plastic waste dumped into rivers and oceans ("Life with plastic, not fantastic"; March 8).

It is high time we did something about the environmentally unfriendly plastic bags.

Following this report, there is likely to be a public call for a complete ban on the use of plastic bags, or for a levy to be imposed on the use of plastic bags.

Then, there will be those who will argue that these two solutions are ill-suited to our local context, as most Singapore families reuse plastic bags for household waste.

Also, there is a valid concern that a ban or charge on plastic bag use will impose an additional financial burden on low-income households.

Oddly, Singaporeans remain in a deadlock over this not-so-complicated environmental issue, which most developed countries, and even some less developed ones, have found ways to resolve.

The crux of the problem could be in ourselves.

So far, we have not found the resolve to tackle this problem because we think that we are already putting plastic bags to good use.

Here is a simple suggestion I picked up from a supermarket in the Philippines: Replace all plastic bags with sturdy disposable paper bags.

Given our local habit of how we bag household waste and concerns over cost, supermarkets could throw in some free garbage paper bags with every purchase.

It is a win-win for both merchants and consumers.

William Tan Whee Kiem