Free desserts for returning trays

From ‘Give dessert voucher, free meal to encourage tray return’, 3 Feb 2018, ST Forum

(Dr Thomas Lee Hock Seng): The perennial problem of not cleaning after oneself in self-service hawker centres has stumped most civic-minded people.

So charging for trays is one example of a desperate hope to change the diehard habit of not bothering to clear one’s table after eating (Charging for trays can help change attitudes, by Miss Tan Lin Neo; Feb 1).

Singaporeans are familiar with the use of fines as disincentives to punish undesirable social habits.

We have earned our reputation as a “fine” city since the introduction of such measures a long time ago.

But we have failed most miserably with such measures.

Yet, there are still advocates who insist on using money as a disincentive to effect behavioural change.

I would suggest we reverse the equation: Use money as a reward or incentive for good social habits.

Instead of charging for the non-return of trays, give a voucher for a free meal or item, such as a dessert of one’s choice, for tray return. I suspect this would have more success.

Yes, it will be a success and there will be a surge of people returning trays. Just that these will be people who didn’t order a single thing from the hawker stalls because free ice kacang. Free diabetes too.

When it comes to rewards, some assholes will always try to take advantage of our intentions to make the world a better place. Take the Skillfutures fiasco for example.

So if you can’t beat Singaporeans into being kind and considerate, nor should one use shaming methods to ruin people’s lives, what made this writer reach the conclusion that giving rewards could make us better people? Do we want to issue National Day awards to Top Tray Returners as well?

We’ve been conditioned by enticements and penalties like lab rats since we were born. Don’t flush a toilet and you get slapped with a fine. Vote for the ruling party and you get GST vouchers. None of this made society any better for it. Courtesy is for free? Courtesy is for puiiii!

Here’s a better idea. Put sorry abandoned cat faces on trays. This is will make us return trays out of pure guilt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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