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KUALA LUMPUR: It’s quite easy to picture a row of children proudly waving the Jalur Gemilang or hundreds of Malaysians singing ‘Negaraku’ at the annual National Day parade.
Now, try to imagine five trillion plastic bags lining the ground of our beloved Mother Earth. You may be surprised but, yes, five trillion plastic bags, or about 160,000 bags a second, are used worldwide every year.
In Malaysia, while there are no accurate figures, the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association estimates that the average citizen uses 300 plastic bags a year. Based on a population of 30 million, this totals up to nine billion bags being consumed, and thrown away, annually.
Our plastic consumption leaches chemicals and toxins into surrounding ecosystems, clogs up every square kilometre of ocean, threatens human and animal populations, and when incinerated, releases greenhouse gases into the environment. Plastic bags also take hundreds of years to decompose and add to the waste accumulated in landfills and natural habitats.
“Plastic bags are easily available, but the next time you use one, consider their impact on the environment and the future,” said Malaysian Nature Society executive director I S Shanmugaraj.
“There are alternatives to plastic bags, but most of us are so conditioned to using plastic that we fail to see other sustainable solutions that reduce littering, offer increased recycling capacities and that conserve, not destroy, our surroundings.”
One organisation committed to reducing the usage of plastic bags nationwide is Giant, the country’s leading retail chain. As a household name, Giant is doing its part to instil increased environmental consciousness by spearheading a campaign that supports the country’s green focus and highlights the damage caused by plastic bags on our surroundings.
While some consumers are trying to reduce the use of plastic bags, thanks to encouragement by the government and private sector, Giant’s 1 Million Reusable Bags Giveaway will further help parents instil environmentally-conscious values in their children and nurture a sustainable Mother Earth for both current and future generations.
Implemented nationwide even though only some states adhere to the no-plastic ruling, Giant’s 1 Million Reusable Bags Giveaway is built on four simple yet impactful actions: place a Reusable Bag in the hands of customers; reinforce the message that there are better alternatives to plastic bags; replace millions of plastic bags with a much-reduced number of reusable ones; and drive a sustainable change of habit.
The first wave of the Giant 1 Million Reusable Bags Giveaway met with an overwhelming response during the recent Hari Raya Aidilfitri when one million reusable bags were given away to customers.
Now, the Giant 1 Million Reusable Bags Giveaway enters its second phase with another one million reusable bags to be given away in conjunction with the National Day celebrations. Shoppers can look forward to carrying their groceries in bags that reflect the colours of the national flag – red, blue and white.
Giant will close the year by giving out another one million reusable bags, bringing the total to 3 million reusable bags being placed in the hands of consumer in 2017 alone; all with a view to drive positive change.
While Giant is popularly known to Malaysians as a family hypermarket synonymous with low prices and great value, the Giant 1 Million Reusable Bags Giveaway unites both the company and its customers for a common good – to reduce the use of plastic bags.
To further strengthen this ‘corporate and community partnership’, Giant is also collaborating with the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism. The ministry supports the hypermarket’s objective to channel funds from the sale of plastic bags on ‘No Plastic’ days towards green programmes, including Giant’s own “Sentuhan Hijau” (Green Touch) campaign.
While a million reusable bags may seem like a small figure compared to the estimated nine billion plastic bags Malaysians use annually, Giant is positive that this initiative will lead to both a change of consumer mindset and see hundreds of millions of plastic bags placed out of commission. — Bernama