WATER rationing is not only bad news for consumers, the environment is suffering too as more people turn to paper and polystyrene cups, plates and utensils.
Consumers said they are forced to make this trade-off to conserve water.
At a hypermarket in Subang Jaya, Faridah Hussin, 30, was seen buying a bundle of 100 polystyrene plates because of the water shortage.
“We have four people in the house including a six-month-old baby. Sometimes, the water tank at home is not sufficient to last us two days.
“So, we need to save water as much as possible and that includes not washing plates,” she said.
Business owners have also been forced to adapt as the third phase of water rationing in the Klang Valley enters its second week.
Gerald Tung, who runs a restaurant in SS2 Petaling Jaya, said business had definitely slowed down since the water rationing exercise started.
Tung’s restaurant, which comprises 10 stalls selling hawker food, has been fairly quiet even during lunchtime.
“Many of my customers prefer to pack food to eat at home or in the office, rather than dine at the restaurant.
“The haze has also forced people to stay home,” said Tung, who is relying on water from his storage tank.
The restaurant uses disposable cups on days when there is no water supply.
“Every cup costs an extra 20sen but I have to absorb the extra cost myself.
“If I do not use disposable cups, I will have to waste water washing the cups,” he said, adding that some of his customers had complained as they preferred drinking hot beverages in ceramic cups.
Chen Lee Men, who runs a stall selling porridge, said it was not easy to store water ahead of time.
“It is okay on the first day but becomes difficult on the second as I have to bring water from home.
“Bringing water from home has added to my workload,” said Lee, who said she might have to close her stall more often.
Several stalls were also seen using disposable bowls and plates while a handful had closed shop for the day.
Mixed-rice seller Lim Pei Yuen brought water in huge plastic containers from his house in Seri Kembangan.
“I try to reduce the number of dishes and use paper plates,” said Lim, who cooks more than 20 dishes at the restaurant itself.He said he had no plans to prepare the dishes at home as he wanted his customers to have freshly cooked food for lunch.
Barista Geraldine Tan said the cafe she worked at was using water from their tank and keeping their fingers crossed it would be enough to last them for two days.
“We have stopped giving out free water to customers,” she said.
At 1Utama shopping centre, its advertising and promotions general manager Patrick So said the mall had limited the usage at their washrooms by reducing the number available, to avoid wastage.
“We also do not water our plants as often as we normally do,” he said.
Mydin Group marketing and communications manager Sabariah Mohd said there was a 20% to 25% increase in sales of disposable utensils, including paper plates and cups, since the water rationing exercise began.
“As for bottled water, sales have increased by 30% to 40%,” she said.
She assured the mall had sufficient supply to meet demand.
“The sale of fruit juices have also increased by 20% to 30%,” she added.
Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Green Living coordinator Wong Ee Lynn advised consumers to eat and cook light meals such as one pot dishes like noodle soup or pasta.
“During this water rationing period, people can cut down on greasy food and cooking many dishes to avoid having to use a lot of water to wash up,” she said.
Fomca secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj urged the public to bring their own containers when buying food outside.
“They can layer the containers with paper towels to soak up the oil,” he said, adding this would make washing easier.
He said this habit should be cultivated as a long-term solution instead of using polystyrene.
Wong, too, advised hawkers to use brown paper instead of polystyrene plates or containers.
“The manufacture of polystyrene and foam items actually uses a lot of water. We may not see it and think we are saving water by using these items as we do not need to wash them. But that is not the case,” she said.
Phase three of water rationing involves 722,424 households in 593 areas in Gombak, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor and Hulu Selangor, while phase one that started earlier covered 71 areas with 60,185 households in Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat dan Sepang.
The water rationing exercise is expected to last till March 31.