Say NO to disposable cutlery
No harm going back to basics, share with us how you cut down use of disposables
Issue: Jan 2010
The set of stainless cutlery distributed by CapitaLand to staff is nifty, fashionable and easy to carry around
Tingkat: The environmentally friendly way for takeaways.
Remember a time when people would take a tingkat with them whenever they did a takeaway food run right up to the 80s? Hardly any disposable containers or cutlery needed to be used.
Then our busy lifestyles changed the way we operate, even when it comes to taking away food from the hawker centres and restaurants. Enter the age of the disposables. We have disposables for almost everything you can think of: disposable containers, plates, cutlery, cameras, milk bottles, diapers and even adult underwear, just to name a few.
If your experience is like most, you may find extra chopsticks, plastic forks and spoons thrown into your takeaway plastic bags, as if they do not cost any extra money to the stallholders.
The bad news
The bad news is that most of these, whether they are made of paper (with a mix of other properties) or plastic, the fact is that they tend to be not easily biodegradable, making them very harmful when released into the environment.
Most of the disposable cutlery we use are made from a type of plastic called polystyrene which is manufactured from petroleum. It is highly flammable and a chemical called benzene, which is a known human carcinogen, is used to produce it.
Plastic Soup in the Seas
Plastics: the culprits of pollution
There is more bad news. Previously, scientists thought that plastics broke down only at very high temperatures and over a very long time – we’re talking about hundreds of years.
However, researchers behind a new study recently, found that plastic breaks down at cooler temperatures than expected, and within a year of the trash hitting the water.
Samples in water were collected from the United States, Europe, Japan, and a few other countries and tested. All the water samples were found to contain derivatives of polystyrene, which is a common plastic used in disposable cutlery, Styrofoam, and DVD cases, among other things.
Plastic, the researchers found should be considered a new source of chemical pollution in the ocean.
Why say NO
There are no official statistics as to how much disposables Singaporeans throw away each year. Let us take disposable cutlery as an example to estimate the figures as all young and old use disposable cutlery at some point or other. Assuming that a person throws away a pair of disposable utensils each week, this means that 104 utensils are disposed annually and if everyone in Singapore does the same, this can come up to about 500,000,000 utensils being disposed in Singapore each year.
And believe it or not, some 100 billion individual disposable pieces of plastic cutlery are used and thrown out each year around the world.
Using disposable utensils means you are wasting oil, cutting trees, burning waste and causing global warming. You can certainly do your part in stopping this.
BYOU: Bring Your Own Utensils
BYOU. So how about bringing your own reusable forks, spoons and chopsticks when you eat out? Sure, it’s a lifestyle change but every little effort counts towards reducing waste and harm to the earth.
CapitaLand encourages staff to take the initiative to protect the environment by cutting down use of disposables
To mark CapitaLand’s achievement of certification of the International Occupational Health and Safety Assessment System certification or OHSAS 18001 in November 2009, the Group dished out some 2000 sets of these re-useable cutlery to all staff in Singapore. The OHS management system helps to ensure that CapitaLand’s employees’ health and safety have been taken into consideration in the workplace.
The set of 3 stainless steel cutlery, comprising a fork, a spoon and a pair of chopsticks, is neatly packed into a tube case for easy use and storage. They are also nifty, fashionable and compact enough for you to carry around in your handbag or briefcase. Most importantly, they are earth-sensitive!
This set of utensils also marks the message that CapitaLand would like to communicate to its staff: "Say No to Disposable Utensils, BYOU when eating out" in an effort to reduce the amount of disposable chopsticks, forks and spoons used everyday.
Your Green Takes
It does take some small effort and a change in habits to be earth-sensitive. But it could all be worthwhile. What’s your take? What’s your idea of how we can cut down on disposables? What about habit changes you’ve made in order to be green? Share your Green Takes with us!