France probably leads the way in the global initiative to help save the planet.
The French government has announced that it will pay a bonus for shoe and clothes repairs in a national thrust to cut waste.
Under the scheme, customers in France can claim for mending a heel or for clothing repairs, starting from October. This innovative initiative is to encourage people to have their clothes and shoes repaired instead of throwing them away.
Interestingly, this bold, innovative move can help reduce the 700,000 tonnes of clothes thrown away by people in France each year.
People in Malaysia too can take this road as we are fast becoming a dumping, littering, polluting society.
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It is time for the Malaysian government to give this French initiative serious thought. Doing so would generate a new economy and create job opportunities, especially for the ballooning unemployed and underemployed youth.
The government, supported by the private sector, should steer campaigns to reuse restored clothes, footwear, utensils and even furniture.
Give it a fancy name. Call it ‘Refashion your lifestyle’ or ‘Smarter living’.
We should give incentives to existing shops specialising in repair work and facilitate the setting up of new outlets.
It is time to battle the polluting giants like the textile, leather and other similar manufacturing outfits.
Given the inflationary trends, it would be timely for Malaysia to consider this French initiative.
Under the scheme, customers in France will be able to claim about RM35 for mending a heel and no less than RM50 for clothing repairs. The French government has set up a €154m fund to cover a five-year period.
Malaysia can even go further by getting supermarkets to give a ringgit discount for bringing your own environment friendly shopping bags. The current widespread practice of charging 20 sen to a ringgit for plastic bags on demand makes a mockery of fighting plastic waste.
Hopefully, this government will rise beyond the tides of political conflicts and take major steps that go beyond addressing our polluting habit. It should introduce innovative measures to enhance the environment while providing new economic opportunities for the people.
Engage the media, the massive civil service, the private sector – from education to manufacturing – and religious bodies to help jumpstart the long-neglected transformation of our environment.
Hopefully, Malaysia’s leaders will not be cowed by the manufacturing firms that are guilty of being the prime polluters.