By Amirul Nazmi Azrymi
The IIUM “Zero Single-Use Plastic Campaign”, which has been in implementation since mid-February this year, has received mixed responses from the campus community.
This programme has flowed through its first phase with the call on food operators for the distribution of plastic single-use straws to be abolished completely.
The next step of this campaign will see that plastic single-use containers used for food take-outs no longer be distributed. The campaign have called on the players to pledge using lesser and lesser single-use plastics by replacing them with reusable or metal utensils. This has prompted staff and students alike to start purchasing metal or silicon items like straws and cutleries.
However, there was a bit of apprehension from the community towards the campaign. Major concerns have been voiced out by students and food operators alike pertaining to its implementation and consistency.
Food operators have found the campaign a sudden move and a difficulty for them to cope with not distributing the straws, especially because of the complaints from students each time they want to buy take-away drinks.
Students also have found the implementation rather a rush, with no prior notice nor announcement on the campaign itself, where most of them just wake up from their slumber and find that there are no more straws to be taken!
While implementation is a bigger issue, the campaign’s consistency of the move has also been questioned. They claimed that while the practice in the early phase is merely not to give out straws, it is found that certain shops do provide their customers with straws – secretly – on request. This inconsistency in practice has raised eye brows over the effectiveness of this campaign.
Despite the concerns expressed, no doubt there is the good side being acknowledged that this campaign has done and what it can bring to the environment.
“This campaign is good because at the very least, it provides some awareness to the IIUM community about the danger of overusing of plastics,” said one student from the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (KIRKHS). Awareness, seemingly, is the key to helping IIUM achieve this particular vision.
In spite of that, students should also attempt to embrace the message and vision of this campaign in ensuring that every member of the IIUM community is on the same wave length with each other to protect and preserve the environment. The university administration too has called upon the students to act immediately considering the condition of our environment today.
Actions involving replacing plastic straws with metal straws and reducing single-use plastic usage can assist in achieving an ‘eco-campus’ university.
This campaign was organised by the Office of Deputy Rector of Student Affairs and Community Engagement (ODRSCE) in collaboration with the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and the IIUM Eco Club.
“SRC, together with IIUM Eco Club are in full support of this campaign. We’re moving onwards to an eco-campus as propagated by our Rector, who upholds the eco-environment principle.
As of now, we are very happy seeing many shops moving in tandem with us,” said Muhammad Haziq Aziz, who is the chairperson of SRC’s Corporate Communication Secretariat.
Aside from this campaign, the IIUM leadership has various other plans to achieve the eco-campus vision, namely biennial Earth Hour, Uniride green cycle and the River of Life project.
The question whether IIUM can achieve its targets shall be seen as time unfolds, but the “Zero Single-Use Campaign” seems to be heading in the right direction.***