It’s time to unpack this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) funpacks, which are touted as being filled with sensible and reusable items, but netizens are calling it a “half-hearted” effort toward promoting sustainability.
The 2019 funpack, which first debuted at the 1991 NDP, comes in red and white, has a water-resistant lining and can be adjusted to be both a sling back and a backpack. It was designed with reusability in mind and, according to the organisers, Singaporeans can place emergency items in it and use it as a “Stay Prepared Emergency Ready Bag” for such scenarios such as home evacuation.
The funpack, which was conceptualised in partnership with the Temasek Foundation, and the items inside are meant to show support for local earth-friendly campaigns “Say YES to Waste Less” and “Year Towards Zero Waste”.
But what exactly is inside the bag and does it promote sustainability and reusability?
Each funpack will include the following items:
1) a bottle of mineral water (750ml disposable plastic water bottle with a spout)
2) a sun visor or a fan
3) a miniature flag for waving
4) mosquito patches
5) a luggage tag
6) a souvenir magazine
7) wet and dry tissues
8) easy-apply face tattoos for festivities
9) a discount booklet
10) a bag of potato chips
11) a pack of biscuits
12) reusable bamboo drinking straws that can double as clappers during the parade
13) a disposable plastic bag for cleaning up one’s trash
Military Expert (ME) 6 Ignatius Tham, NDP 2019 chairman of the logistics and finance committee, spoke of the design of the funpack, which he said took about four to six months to develop.
ME6 Tham noted that the organisers wanted to do something to “promote reuse so that people can continue to use the bag long after the NDP celebrations”.
When the contents of this year’s funpacks were officially revealed, the public was not shy about airing their opinions on the (supposedly) sustainability-themed funpacks.
Netizens pointed out a glaring discrepancy—the presence of plenty of single-use plastic items in the funpacks despite openly supporting less-waste and zero-waste initiatives:
You can’t just stick some bamboo straws in there amidst all the disposable plastic items and call it sustainable, people said:
Okay, so the funpacks can be reused. But the netizens are questioning whether it was worth spending precious resources on these funpacks:
The funpacks have been labeled a “half-hearted” attempt and effort toward recycling, reusing and environmental conservation:
The organisers were questioned on the inclusion of so many single-use or disposable plastic items in the funpacks, and on replying, they quoted Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen’s speech last year, saying that the items were to be reusable “when available and cost-effective”.
They added that unused ponchos and LED wristbands from each rehearsal and preview will be reused at all succeeding events as part of the parade’s thrust toward sustainability.
“This year’s NDP theme is Our Singapore, and we want to do something for the future, we want to be the pioneers for our future generation,” said ME6 Tham, adding that “it’s [not] too early or too late. But it is [an] opportune time and since all these initiatives are aligned to our efforts, why not [choose] this year … to promote reuse.”
The only items in the funpack that are truly useful and reusable (besides the funpack itself), are the sun visor, luggage tag and the bamboo straws. That’s three (four if you count the bag) out of 13 items.