Bad habits lead to polluted rivers


  • Letters
  • Friday, 02 Sep 2016

Rubbish comprising mostly bottles and plastic waste piled up along the river that runs through Bintulu in central Sarawak. Complaints about the dirty Kemana River is not new. It is downstream from residential and commercial areas. A market is also nearby. ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / THE STAR

IT has been reported that an average of 2,200 tonnes of rubbish are collected every month from the trash traps installed in rivers across our country.

Despite the river rehabilitation efforts over the past years, our

waterways are still very polluted,

causing loss of aquatic and marine life, degradation of our living environment and many other problems.

If we analyse the rubbish collected from our rivers, we can conclude that our consumption behaviours are not friendly to the environment. The rubbish comprises mainly polystyrene and drinks packaging, empty tin cans, plastic bags and bottles, and disposable cups and plates.

All these are single-use items generated from our daily activities – and mainly our eating habits! For example, when we buy our favourite takeaway breakfast, nasi lemak, we are usually given a plastic spoon with it. And the drinks we buy to take away are served in plastic bags together with plastic straws.

Littering makes things worse as the rain will wash the rubbish into drains which flow into rivers and finally into the sea. Last year, an article in the National Geographic cited Malaysia as one of the top eight countries generating the ocean’s plastic waste!

Malaysians use plastic products extensively probably because these are relatively cheap to buy and a lot are also given freely. For that same reason, we throw them away without any hesitation either in a responsible way or just willy-nilly.

The other fact is we are very dependent on municipal workers to clean our public spaces. When we cannot find a rubbish bin nearby, we tend to just leave our trash behind for these workers to pick up.

Perhaps littering in public places is the most deeply-rooted issue that we have to address to reduce river pollution in our country. In short, many of our daily activities can inadvertently cause river pollution.

We need to lead a sustainable lifestyle which encourages responsible consumption that emphasises prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse of our waste to reduce our negative impacts on the environment.

Stop the river pollution at its source – you and me.

LAI CHEE HUI

Penang

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Opinion , Environment; Rivers

   

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