Suggestion to improve BYOB programme

Dear Madam/Sir,

I refer to “Scheme saves 5 to 6 million plastic bags a year” (Oct 31).

As an ardent supporter of the Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) programme, I want to applaud NTUC FairPrice for implementing the Green Rewards Scheme.

It is the only existing scheme by supermarkets in Singapore that provides incentives to customers to use their own shopping bags.

I hope a similar scheme can be adopted by all retailers nationwide.

In light of this dream, I would like to suggest the implementation of an Enhanced BYOB Programme to all retailers for their consideration:

  1. FairPrice’s current practice is to provide a flat fee rebate i.e. S$0.10 off the total price of groceries for customers who bring their own bags and spend $10 or more.

    Retailers should consider a percentage pricing rebate instead i.e. 1% off the total price of groceries for customers who bring their own bags and spend $10 or more.

    This is because the amount spent on groceries and the number of bags used will generally rise in the same proportion.

    For example, if I were to spend S$39.90 on groceries, I would receive a S$0.40 rebate if I brought my own shopping bags.

  3. If retailers were to adopt the above suggestion, they can offset any potential financial losses by concurrently implementing the converse i.e. a 1% grocery bill levy on consumers who use plastic bags.

    This will also provide a further incentive for consumers to use their own shopping bags; most consumers will baulk at the thought of subsidising another person’s grocery shopping.

  5. Once we reach a stage where shopping bag usage is more popular than plastic bag usage, we can then revert to the S$0.10 token flat fee rebate.

    This is to continue to reward consumers who use shopping bags.

    However, the 1% grocery bill levy on consumers who use plastic bags must be maintained concurrently in order to sustain the disincentive for consumers to be environmentally unfriendly.

Plastic manufacturers need not be unduly concerned – consumers will still need to purchase plastic bags as bin liners.

Consumers also need not be unduly concerned – we can use the rebates from supermarkets to purchase our bin liners. This will allow us to appreciate the true cost of our activities on the environment.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Laremy LEE (Mr)

(Published as “A 1% Bring Your Own Bag rebate, instead of 10 cents?” on 5 Nov 2012 in TODAY.)

Green spots in urban Singapore! | PIONEER Magazine

So I’ve been featured in this month’s issue of PIONEER Magazine!

It’s in the Little Black Book column – if you didn’t get the significance of the name, it’s meant to convey the idea of it containing important information that’s sometimes not known in the public sphere, because:

  1. Soldiers (usually commanders) usually carry a small, black notebook around with them to jot down notes of seeming consequence. I use(d) mine for writing poetry and Map Grid References.
  2. In civilian parlance, a ‘little black book’ refers to a filofax or notebook that men keep with the names and contacts of girls they intend to get jiggy with.

In any case, my actual submission/the actual Q&A as follows:

  1. What tops your list of green spots in Singapore?
    A wooded area at the back of the Turf City fields. It’s not marked on the map but it’s bounded by Turf Club Road and Fairways Drive.
  2. How did you first find it?
    It was a chance find – I was looking for the Turf City fields when I stumbled upon this gem.
  3. What do you like about it and what are some of the things which people can do there?
    I like it for its picturesqueness; it reminds me of the English countryside. Its tranquility is also good for having a moment to one’s self for creative or meditative reflection.

    You can go there to run, cycle or take a slow, romantic stroll with a date. I’m sure writers and artists can also draw inspiration from the beauty of the area.

  4. What’s the best way to get there/ explore this space?
    It’s best if you have your own vehicle. Alternatively, take a bus to Dunearn Road, alight at the Turf Club Road bus-stop and walk to the area.

More PIONEER magazine madness here.

What is with this excessive tree-pruning obsession?

The excessive pruning of trees - disapprove.

I’m not against the pruning of trees, because pruning does help at times in terms of improving the aesthetics or safety of a place.

What I’m against is the excessive pruning of trees all over Singapore that takes place on a regular basis.

(At the same time, I do wish more trees could be planted in Singapore, but that’s another battle for another time).

That tree gave some much-needed shade to Pooters – something I appreciate because I hate sitting on an over-heated seat and I hate knowing Pooters is exposed to the elements.

There are other benefits to trees in our urban environment too: carbon sequestration, reduction in ambient temperatures, etc. Read more here.

That’s why trees are especially important in a place like sunny Singapore and in a world stricken by global warming.

However, I’ve always felt that whoever makes decision like these – e.g. to prune trees excessively – do so in the right spirit: to neaten and hence beautify the place, to prevent tree branches from falling and killing people during a gale or a storm, etc.

Unfortunately, these decisions seem to always be made in a vacuum, without consideration of other important factors like the ones I mentioned above: shade, shelter, preventing global warming, etc.


I think this has to do with encouraging critical thinking and providing these people with an actual knowledge of circumstances in our world today.

And that’s why it has never been more important for us to move away from subjects taught in the traditional curriculum, to teaching slightly more multidisciplinary and ‘real-world’ subjects like biodiversity or environmental ethics now.