Reduce & Recycle Waste

Last week, I had an interesting exchange with a reader from Australia who voiced her concern about me drinking Nespresso coffee because the used coffee pods are non-biodegradable and creating a landfill problem.  I thought I should write a post on  waste reduction and social responsibility.

Reducing Waste

Reducing waste requires extra effort and cost and is never convenient.  Therefore, the best approach to reduce waste is not to create waste, at least, not create unnecessary waste. Check out an earlier post I wrote on how to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

This reminds me of an early morning meeting at the office where we bought our own breakfast.  I had a steam pork bun from a local café, a cup of coffee from the office pantry and my water bottle. A colleague bought sandwich, chips, coffee, a bottle of fruit juice and a bottled water.  After breakfast, I threw away the small paper bag for my steam pork bun and my colleague threw away the paper bag that held what he bought which now contained the sandwich and chips wrappers, paper cup and two plastic bottles.  The amount of waste could be reduced by more than half if he brought his own coffee mug and water bottle.  And to go the extra mile by washing the juice bottle and drop it into the recycle bin. Of course it takes more effort and less convenient.  Reducing waste is never convenient.


Coffee Pods (Recyclable vs Biodegradable)

Case in point on convenience, the Nespresso coffee pods.  The pods are made of aluminium that can be recycled and in Singapore, the coffee grounds from the recycled Nespresso capsules are given to Quan Fa Organic Farm, a family business that grows local greens, which turns them into fertiliser and compost.

For Nespresso Recycling Program to be effective, the consumers have to play their part by placing the used pods in a separate recycle bag, bring them to the Nespresso boutique or collection centre or hand it to the delivery person.  It takes a little more effort to place the used pods in a separate bag vs trashing them into the trash bin.  I would need to remember to bring them along when I buy new coffee pods at the Nespresso boutique or hand them to the delivery man when he delivers the new coffee pods. To me, the little extra effort is nothing and does not cause much inconvenience.  It is a matter of making it as a habit.


Of course, one could go for alternate brand like Ethical Coffee Company (ECC) that produces biodegradable pods that I gathered is compatible for use in Nespresso machine and the price is also lower.  As a consumer, if the product is of good quality, taste good, cheaper and not damage my Nespresso machine, I will give it a try.  I am an ordinary coffee drinker that love the convenience and consistency of taste of Nespresso coffee.

School Lunch in Japan – It’s Not Just About Eating!

I got to know about a video on School Lunch in Japan through an article written by Mr Han Fook Kwang, former Straits Times Singapore editor.

“The 45-minute lunch period is considered as an educational period same as math or reading.” – The Principal of the Japanese School in Saitama

The video is about a school in Saitama, Japan, and what goes on during lunch time.  There are 628 pupils, and all the food is cooked and prepared in the school kitchen by 5 people.

When it is time for lunch, a team from each class together with their teacher, collect the food, take it to the classrooms and dish out the food.  The potatoes that they have for lunch are grown by the pupils in the school farm.  The pupils eat at the same table they use for lessons, using the tablecloth and chopsticks that they brought from home.  The pupils also make sure they finished all the food, with no wastage and return their plates to the central location to be brought back to the kitchen.

The pupils washes up their classroom, corridors, stairs, washrooms and the rest of the school.  The pupils also tear open the empty milk cartons, rinse them under a running tap. The cartons will be left to dry for a day before sending for recycle.  This is the proper way to recycle milk cartons and the pupils are taught to do at an early age in school.

Through this lunch period, the pupils learn to work together as a team, demonstrating gratitude, cleaning up their own space and taking care of the environment.  The pupils also learn to take care of themselves and others.  The schools in Japan is playing a big part in imparting civic consciousness and social responsibility by teaching the children at an early age.

I would really like to see primary schools in Singapore implementing similar lunch period lesson, to impart and instil civic consciousness and social responsibility at an early age.  This would have positive impact on the pupils and also on their family when they will bring this habit and way of life home, encouraging their family to reduce waste by recycling waste in the correct way.

Reducing waste is not an inconvenient option but an absolute necessity.


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