By Muhammad Khairul Ikhwan bin Jamain
Usage of plastic bags in Malaysia is somehow necessary nowadays. It is cheap, durable, and easy to get and we all use it almost every day.
However, do you know that plastic bags are one of the most discarded waste in this country? According to National Solid Waste Management, Malaysians produce more than 19,000 tons of solid waste every year and a quarter of it is plastic. On average, Malaysians use around eight plastic bags per week. It is very worrying because it needs 100 to 500 years to dispose of plastics using natural ways.
With this issue, the Ministry of Domestic Trade in 2012 introduced the “No Plastic Bags Day” campaign in selected supermarkets across Malaysia every Saturday. The initiative of this campaign is to increase the awareness of the “green lifestyle” among Malaysians to reduce excessive usage of plastic bags. So, the buyers need to bring their own grocery bags when they go shopping on Saturday. As of late 2019, all the supermarkets in Malaysia will not provide free plastic bags every Saturday.
Execution of the campaign
This campaign, however, was manipulated by the supermarkets by charging 20 cents per plastic bag when the buyers forget to bring their own grocery bag. This charge is being questioned by all people when it is being approved by the government. This is because the company will make profit from this campaign as people still do not bring their own grocery bags when they go to the supermarket. Can you imagine how much profit they might get in a day?
Furthermore, there are also some of the businesses that do not even care about the campaign, especially the small businesses. This is because it is not compulsory for all businesses to join the campaign. So, what is the point for them to join this campaign? It does not increase their profit.
The effectiveness of the campaign is questionable, and we can ask ourselves, do we participate in the programme? Do we bring our own grocery bags to the supermarket, or do we just pay 20 cents?
What we should do to make the campaign effective
In my opinion, Malaysians still need to be educated about the importance of taking care of the environment and nature. We must know that nature is not ours, it belongs to our next generation. The government also must play a role in educating the people to take care of the environment. How do you make sure the campaign is effective if Malaysians have no awareness about the issues? The government should do much advertising about the importance of taking care of the environment.
People also should know why the campaign is being carried out. Sometimes, they care about the environment, but they do not receive enough information about the campaign. The government and the concerned party, such as supermarkets, should advertise and encourage people to always bring their own plastic bag, not only on Saturday but also on other days. The supermarket should encourage their customers to bring their own grocery bag.
Then, parents should start it from home. We know that a parent is the first teacher of the children. Parents should teach their children to love the environment. This will create a generation which cares about the environment.
Most Malaysians are still not aware of environmental issues nowadays. Although environment issue is one of the biggest problems globally, this issue is not getting the Malaysian government’s attention. The excessive use of plastics among Malaysians is still not a huge issue among Malaysians because we can see most of them willing to pay 20 cents every week. Hence, Malaysians should be educated to reduce usage of plastic bags, not only on Saturdays but everyday.
The campaign is actually a good idea from the authorities to show that they actually care about nature. However, we all are supposed to take this campaign seriously and the government must also make sure that the final point of the campaign, to reduce plastic bags usage, can be attained. The government should play a big role in advertising and in creating awareness among the people about how important this campaign is all about.***
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