We take green living seriously.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Great GREEN News but...

Ikea To Start Charging Customers For Plastic Bags
(Summary of The Straits Times, HOME, page H3 Wednesday, April 11, 2007)

Ikea of Singapore is charging consumers a nominal 5 cents for standard-size plastic bags and 10 cents for larger ones. And will cut the price of their reusable blue bags from S$2.90 to S$1.20 to encourage more customers to BYOB (bring your own bag). Sales of the bags will be donated to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to fund conservation efforts in Indonesia. The money will help fund initiatives by the Indonesian government and non-government organisations to prevent and monitor illegal fires and forest-clearing and promote sustainable forest management. The campaign was rolled out in Britain last year, where it proved to be a huge success. Charging 10 pence per bag, the initiative cut the store's plastic bag usage by 95%, said Ikea spokesman Lars Svensson. And customers in the United States had already started paying for their plastic bags in February this year. The money raised in those sales was also channeled to environmental causes. From news online of Channel New Asia, “Singapore consumes 2.5 billion plastic bags each year… Singapore incinerates its waste plastic bags and burning a tonne of them produces almost 2,900 kilograms of carbon dioxide - the gas that causes global warming. Global warming is the reason why glaciers melt, causing sea levels to rise. And that is a serious issue for islands like Singapore.”

Local Corporations Need To Wake Up!
While we cheer Ikea's environmental efforts both locally and globally, it's quite disheartening to know that many local corporations and folks involved aren't doing enough, and are still in fact still contributing to the escalating problem of global warming. It’s time to think beyond profits and losses - not everything can be measured in dollars and sense. How much is the planet worth? How do you measure the cost of physical and emotional damage wrecked by global warming?

The executive director of the Singapore Environment Council Howard Shaw said the resistance by retailers boiled down to “a fear of losing customers”. To let fear of losing customers be placed on higher priority than the “fear of losing the entire planet and its lives (which includes the customers!)” is totally preposterous.

There's only one earth and alarm bells have already ringing non-stop. We are experiencing freak weather that costs lives globally. If this is not enough to convince each of us to do something, then what is? Are we simply really waiting for a great catastrophe to hit us personally before we do the right thing?

We cannot tackle global warming issue singlehandedly – we need to do it collectively. If we truly believe saving the Earth is crucial, we have to help each other achieve that. Why not join hands together with Ikea and the rest of the world on this plastic bag issue? Those who don't think using a single plastic bag after another is no issue should just have to pay for doing so. As we can see, encouraging reusable bags alone had not been successful enough to alert the urgency of the environmental issue. Many of us still use plastic bags wastefully and it's not an uncommon sight at supermarkets that many customers still ask for more plastic bags unnecessarily, while cashiers issue them without much thought.

As a message on a reusable cloth bag I carry says, using it as an alternative is “a bag that won’t cost the Earth”!

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