I took my kids to a restaurant for lunch last Sunday. We enjoyed a wonderful array of dishes – crispy roasted chicken, Hainanese chicken rice and asam pedas fish. Since we could not finish our food, I requested the waiter tapau it for us and he gladly obliged.
As we walked towards the cashier, the waiter handed us a plastic bag with the plastic food container of our leftovers. I thanked him and got ready to make my payment. At this point, the cashier informed me that she would be adding 20 sen to my bill for the plastic bag. I was confused for a moment wondering which day of the week it was.
“Today is Sunday, right? I didn’t know Sunday was a no plastic bag day in KL,” I said.
“We don’t encourage plastic bags here. Every plastic bag for any day of the week would cost you 20 sen,” the cashier explained.
I quickly removed the container from the plastic bag and handed it back to her.
“I won’t be needing the plastic bag then,” I said.
As she nodded and proceeded to process our payment, I asked why the restaurant was using plastic containers for takeaways if they did not support the use of plastic. She did not bother to answer my question.
This is my beef with the “No Plastic Bag” campaign. The usage of plastic bags is often equated with the destruction of the environment – it piles up in landfills, blocks drainage systems, causes floods, contaminates the oceans, kills marine life. But how about other plastic products we use so freely every single day?
Just the other day I ate at a fast food restaurant and was shocked at how many plastic materials I had used in my half hour there. Plastic spoon and plastic cup for my Sundae, plastic cover for my porridge, plastic straw for my drink and mini plastic saucers for the various condiments my meal came with.
How much good are the recyclable bags we now use when shopping for groceries when we purchase eggs in plastic containers; mineral water in plastic bottles; beauty, hygiene and cleaning products packaged in huge plastic containers; and let us not forget the fruits, vegetables, fish and meat products we place in plastic bags.
The truth is, almost everything we purchase comes packaged in plastic. So why do we single out the use of plastic bags as the main culprit causing destruction to the environment?
Aren’t these “evil” plastic bags one of the most reused items in our households? I don’t know about you, but I use them for almost everything – for packing food items in the fridge, organising things in drawers, for storing dirty laundry when travelling, packing trash and even as shoe bags. As one of the most reused items in our households, should we not be celebrating the use of plastic bags instead of condemning it?
Perhaps those who decide to ban the usage of plastic bags should get themselves a weighing scale to determine the weight of one plastic bag and figure out how many plastic bags are needed to cause a significant impact on the environment.
If you ask me, the weight of all those plastic bags used over one whole year is not even comparable to the weight of all those products packaged in plastic we put into our shopping trolleys at the supermarket.
Source : Fa Abdul is an FMT columnist @ FMT Online