Greener way of life

Recycling starter kits for HDB households could spur more to make "reuse, repair, recycle" habits an entrenched part of their daily lives. Such change is sorely needed as the domestic recycling rate, at 19 per cent last year, is far from what one would expect from citizens who take great pride in the nation's "Garden City" image.

Recycling is not a fad but a necessity as Singapore's landfill will run out of space between 2035 and 2045 if the mountain of refuse being collected yearly is not checked. Behavioural change on a large scale simply will not happen till Singaporeans make it a personal responsibility to reduce waste and recycle. After all, it doesn't take much to learn what can be recycled, and how to conveniently reuse things and do simple repairs around the house. Habits bred at home are more likely to be manifested at workplaces too.

Those operating commercial premises have little excuse to not make an effort to offer recycling facilities, especially when most recyclables are already coming from industries. Such steps should come as naturally to them as the provision of electricity, water and sanitation infrastructure, as activists have noted. Big hotels and malls are already obliged to submit waste-reduction plans. Food centre operators should also do their bit - for example, by using recycling machines to convert food waste and leftovers into compost or water. Only 13 per cent of food waste (which piled up to 788,600 tonnes last year) is recycled.

Some might suggest incentives to improve recycling rates, like the South West District's "Trash-for-Cash" programme that enabled residents to exchange recyclables for necessities. But these cannot be sustained indefinitely. Ultimately, it's about going green for its own sake. Instead of seeing all things material as "disposable", one ought to embrace a disposition to practise conservation in all ways possible for the larger good.