National Day Parade's fun packs are not fun for our environment

ERIC TEO HONG KIAT Today Online 6 Aug 18;

It's that time of the year again when we mark Singapore's independence. The ubiquitous "fun pack" or goodie bag, given to spectators at the National Day Parade and the shows before the Aug 9 occasion, is now an essential part of the celebrations.

Given the recent focus on reducing plastic use ("At least 1.76 billion plastic items used each year; non-profit to launch 'two is enough' campaign"; Aug 1), it is timely for us to re-think what goes into these fun packs.

Besides the large amount of plastic packaging used, there are items that are either of poor quality (the plastic zip bag) or minimal functionality (the luggage tag, handheld fans) which would no doubt end up as trash — if not immediately, then shortly after.

The irony is that Captain Green, created in November 1990 during Singapore's first Clean and Green Week campaign, is one of the mascots at this year's National Day Parade.

It is time we reduce the quantity of items in the fun packs and improve their quality.

There is no better place to start reversing this trend than on our nation's "birthday", as we hold up our shared vision and values for the younger generation.

One might argue that the parade is a once-a-year event and the damage done is limited.

However, we must remember that it is not just the number of fun packs but the message it sends to users.

After all, this is an event organised by the Government, and leadership by example in this case will certainly go a long way in convincing people of the urgency and importance of this agenda.

Companies such as fast-food chain KFC have already done away with providing plastic caps and straws for drinks. Would the next organising committee of the National Day Parade take up the challenge and aim for zero single-use plastics in the fun packs?