After HSA finally comes to senses with their silly charges for registering "medical devices", another body is set to push cost of living higher - which just crossed the 5% barrier. The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) is determined to nudge supermarkets, and some say even hawker centers, into charging for plastic bags.
Environment consultant Eugene Tay was spot on when he said these cost adders will not go down well with the low- and middle- income group. He probably had in mind the below $1,500 per month category which Prof Lim wanted desperately to help, not the above $15,000 per month types who send their maids out for the grocery run. The type of people who don't realize plastic is essential for wet items like fish and fresh vegetables. And even they appreciate air flown oysters taste better than canned versions. In our hot and humid climate, brown paper bags - which supermarts in Singapore do not provide - just won't survive the journey home, even in the boot of an airconditioned car. Don't even dream about buying ice cream by the tub.
Of course there are alternatives like bags and baskets made from organic (as in carbon) materials, hemp, jute, hessian, cotton and linen. But that means going to the supermart will be like gearing up for a back-packing trip through the woods. Try putting the tray of eggs in a haversack. And should mom call you at the office to pick up a pint of milk and a loaf of bread on your way home, let's see how you stuff that into your patent leather attache case, or Kate Spade designer bag.
If there's a solution to do away with the plastic bags, don't count on the SEC to come up with one - except to make you pay and pay for them. Do you think they really care if plastic bags kill at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year? The SEC is a NGO (non-government organisation), but is supported by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, headed by that nut case who thinks food is only from a hawker centre, food court or restaurant. Home cooking with ingredients from the supermart must seem so alien to those lodged in ivory towers.