Consumer groups call for plastic-free Thaipusam

03 Feb 2020 / 17:41 H.

GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia have urged organisers to make this year’s Thaipusam a plastic-free celebration.

N.V. Subbarow, who is senior education officer for both organisations, has asked the management of all Hindu temples to ban polystyrene containers when serving food in their premises.

It is the custom for charity organisations to provide free food to devotees who show up at the temples for the various ceremonies.

Polystyrene plates and cups are widely used during the Thaipusam celebrations. The organisers regard it as a convenient way to serve food to the thousands of devotees who show up for the celebrations.

“This is one way to curb our dependence on plastic. Polystyrene is not recyclable,” Subbarow pointed out.

He said shops selling sweets and prayer items should also refrain giving out plastic bags. Plastic and polystyrene end up as a large amount of garbage, he pointed out.

“Many people are unaware that polystyrene takes about 500 years to degrade,” he said in a statement.

He also noted that polystyrene packaging also contained residual styrene, a chemical that could seep into the food, and this could cause numerous types of health problems.

He added that the temples could switch to plates and cups made of biodegradable material, which were safer.

“Let us use this festival as platform to save the environment. This will leave behind a cleaner and safer Earth for our children,” Subbarow added.

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