Morning from Budapest

Woke up today feeling at ease especially in a room filled with warm colors. The sunlight peaking through the curtains make it even more calming. It’s my third day in Budapest and I absolutely love this place, although I might say the same thing for every place I visit. But it is indeed beautiful. Budapest city is made up of two sides with Danube River in between. Not only it has 2 sides of history and culture to offer but it’s also different at night. Everything is relatively near and its interesting what you can discover when you’re out on a stroll around the city.

Since exams are over, I’ve been doing a bit of catching up with the current environmental issues especially here in Budapest. It fascinates and disappoints me at the same time to see what’s been going on around the world with regards to the environment. So here’s a bit of the information I got while I was leisurely enjoying the sun (or more like the bed) in Budapest.

On the 5th of June we human beings celebrated World Environment’s Day. I’m sure nobody missed this because it was trending everywhere on social media and there were news coverages about it too. I also read that US big players such as Google and Apple are joining forces to work towards their commitment in the Climate Change agreement. While Trump wanted out, it’s comforting to know that many US citizens are fighting his decisions and willing to come together for the purpose of making a better environment. But it saddens me to see that even environmental issues are highly influenced by politics when it is definitely every person’s responsibility to preserve and keep the environment in a healthy state. With so many challenges to protect our environment, the World Environment’s Day was indeed needed to bring people together and to instil awareness on the importance of keeping mother nature alive. People all over the world joined in celebrating the richness of earth by exploring nature and participating in environmental activities. Many organizations celebrated by holding conferences, events, competitions and setting trends on social media. It was really good to see everyone spirited about the environment and we must keep the momentum going. We can’t just celebrate for a day and expect the environment to heal on its own.

I also had a read on the passing of our Sumatran rhino in Malaysia. It is such a devastating news and with Puntung gone, Malaysia is left with only 2 Sumatran rhinos which is so close to extinction in Malaysia. Even in Indonesia, there are less than 100 Sumatran rhinos left. While Puntung’s death was to resolve it from going through suffering of chemotherapy and other pain, it is not doubt that the low number of Sumatran rhino population remains as a major concern for environmental workers in Malaysia. Protecting endangered species have always been a challenge in Malaysia especially when we are home to a diverse range of wildlife. Early last year, the news exploded when we lost more than 3 tigers within a month due to animal traps, accidents and poaching. That did not include other events, particularly animal trafficking and poaching that is constantly occuring not only in Malaysia but within the Southeast Asia region. While we don’t see the importance of protecting the wildlife, it is our duty to keep the balance in place. The wildlife is a source of contentment and happiness. It is in this world for reasons we might never know. But like every other creature on this planet, it is not our place to wipe them out so we can take over. They exist just like why the sky and sun exist. It is part of nature. The wildlife teaches us compassion and empathy on how to coexist in peace.

Apart from wildlife issues which are a constant worry, I’ve also been searching for ideas on how we can recycle things and remake them to be useful! While browsing through, I found a video about the typical paper cups we use to have hot drinks which are labeled as recyclable but often they are not recycled because of the high cost to remove a layer of wax from the cups. How surprising isn’t it ?! Of course when I get home I’ll be doing more research on that to fully understand the issue. I also found a few ideas that transforms plastic and old clothes to yarns so that it can be reused for weaving and knitting purposes. Since I love doing artsy stuff I had so much fun discovering all these ideas. I even made a few to-do list once I’m back at home. While this might not be contributing much to the amount of waste we humans generate every second, I really do hope that bit by bit we can instil awareness especially in Malaysia about the effects of wastage and how it pollutes our land, water, soil, air and many more. A polluted environment is definitely worrisome as it affects our health in general.

Also, I think this was old news as I read it a few months ago but there was a argument about the ban of plastic bags in Selangor, a state in Malaysia. While the ban of plastic bags was a common practice in other developed countries, not everyone took it well in Malaysia. The reaction towards this ban was also quite different. People were more willing to pay extra 20 cents to have the plastic bag for convenience. Since the ban was in place, the consumption of plastic bags for rubbish bins increased as well. The reason behind this was because many people used to recycle the plastic bags as waste bags but now they need to purchase as they can’t recycle the plastic bags anymore. While implementing ban for plastic bag had a good objective behind it, I think we should have also offered suggestions for solutions to the possible problems that comes with it. It is also important to educate why the ban of plastic bag is needed and how people can change their lifestyle to adapt to this new regulation. Alternative materials should be ready to act as substitute to plastic bags and we have to make it accessible for people to obtain them. Perhaps a short and long term campaign should have taken place so that it creates a sense of responsibility and encouragement for people to adhere to the new change in regulation. The objective of the ban is definitely a good effort but we could definitely improve more of creating awareness and getting more people to willingly pledge to the ban rather than enforce it to them.

With all the readings I did while in Budapest, it occured to me tht although we do have people fighting for the environment in Malaysia, it is not enough. It is not only protecting wildlife but also in our daily lifestyle. Although it is not easy, we could try to slowly change by constantly educating ourselves. Businesses and large organizations play an important role in shaping the lifestyle of our community too. It is so important to create awareness where possible and to learn about sustainability whenever we can.

when exam strikes

It’s exam season now for university students like me so pretty much everything is described as one word: stress. The only comfort to this is that, it’s my final hurdle and I should give my best (or perhaps I just want to be done with finals already). Because it’s the exam season, you tend to get so much inspiration (read as: distractions) and as for me, I’ve probably spend more time reading on environmental articles, environment NGOs in Malaysia and even constructing ideas on how WWF Malaysia can improve on their work. I’ve also had few thoughts about cancer, which I will share soon but today I will be talking a bit about fast fashion industry.

For those of you who’ve never heard of fast fashion before, it’s basically a contemporary word retailers use to describe the constant rapid exchange in trends to meet the growing demand of consumers. Fast fashion are usually collection from Fashion Week presented for different seasons but with emphasis in certain aspect of production which is often the price factor. Also known as “supermarket” market, fast fashion is a manufacturing model developed to adopt quick response towards the growing and ever-changing demand of consumers in the industry. Some examples of the large retailers include H&M, Zara, Primark and Topshop. Ever since fast fashion is adopted in the market, clothing consumption have been on the rise globally. Competition and cheap prices contribute to the drastic increase level of consumption, making clothing easier to be replaced without too much opportunity cost. Fast fashion, without any doubt have boosted the economy of some countries particularly the third world countries. Many of the large retailers manufacture and produce their clothing line from countries such as Morocco, India, China, Indonesia and Malaysia too. Textile production and job opportunities have been growing to meet demands in the fashion industry as well and this has helped many of the people to be out from the poverty cycle.

While this has definitely bring some benefit to the economy, we cannot ignore the fact that this is also one of the main contributor to pollution nowadays. Not only that the level of wastage increased but manufacturing processes are also polluting the environment. On top of that, to produce at cheap prices retailers take advantage of the cheap raw materials in the third world countries and this include the labors that work in the production sector. There have been many cases where retailers fail to abide rules regarding labors and have been accused to be overworking the workers. This has caused many sustainable clothing line to enter the market with objective of producing ethical and sustainable clothes for people. More and more awareness campaigns have been done to educate consumers the impact of fast fashion. Some of the famous tagline includes ‘who made your clothes’ and ‘you are what you wear’. Even companies are starting to acknowledge that consumers now are shifting their demand from just fashion to ethical fashion. A few brands have introduced their own CSR activity to promote sustainable clothing, for example H&M Conscious, Monsoon, FatFace and Monki. Independent sustainable clothing line such as WoolAndTheGang, People Tree UK and GatherandSee are getting more attention from consumers with their sustainable efforts. My personal favourite is WoolandTheGang and their project on using unwanted clothes to become recycled yarns for knitting and crochet purpose.

So I did a bit of research on sustainable clothing in Malaysia and found a lack of awareness about clothing consumption. While this is understandable because in Malaysia we push forward on fashion marketing to boost the economy, it is also important to realize the impact of excess and irresponsible fashion consumption. One of the ways we can help lessen the impact is to recycle instead of throwing away our unwanted clothes. We can recreate clothes as well as there are many DIY projects online these days. There are also many ways to recycle – put it in a recycling bin, give away to those who needs clothes (charity organisations, homeless people etc etc) or sell it as second hand products. You can transform your unwanted clothes to many things such as cushion covers, material lining, table cloth or can even use it to wipe dry your plates !

I know to be honest it’s a lot easier to dump it to the bin once you’re bored of your clothes and have it replaced with new ones but let’s take a few extra minutes before coming to that decision and think of how you can use the clothes in other ways beside throwing it away. It helps to think about those people who work really hard to meet your constant demand in fashion. Before going on a shopping spree, you could go through your wardrobe to see what you have, what you need and what you might put away so that you don’t purchase only to realize later that you’ve already got similar style.

A piece of clothing is not just represented by price anymore, but also every aspect that is involved in creating that piece to be on your clothing rack.

Plastic .

Continuing from my previous post on sustainable living, I thought that maybe I would put up more posts about environmental issues and how we as the main users of this planet can work together to sustain it for our future kids ! This time round, I’ll talk about plastics. When the word plastic pops in my mind, a few words came up as there are lots and lots of different kinds of plastics and they are all combinations of different components. It’s also not rocket science as most of us know that plastic is one of the largest contributory factor to the pollution sector. While this is a fact known by millions of people, many are still producing their goods with the use of plastic because it’s affordable and convenient.

Now, let’s narrow down to one type of plastic; water bottles.  Water bottles use billions of plastic annually to store mineral water, sweet drinks, carbonated drinks etc etc and the amount of plastic bottles we consumed daily is probably a significant number which leads us to having to recycle as many bottles as we can so that we won’t add up to the pile in the land waste. More and more countries are slowly providing recycling bins and making it easily accessible and available so people can opt to put it in the recycling bin rather than normal waste bin. But we are still facing problems where the number of people recycling water bottles is not enough as compared to the number of water bottles consumed. People know the potential issue a plastic bottle brings if not properly recycled but sometimes they decide to just throw it away in a waste bin because it makes life easier, more convenient and less hassle. This is also probably because we don’t see firsthand the problems caused by plastics on a large scale of consumption.

To tackle this problem, there’s only one solution to it – awareness. We must educate ourselves, the people around us and the society of the potential damage plastic can bring to our planet. It’s one thing to implement regulations, tell people to recycle, provide recycling bins but it is another thing to educate the society, to provide understanding and necessary knowledge so people realize the importance of a simple act. Young children should be taught about preserving the environment in school so that they could be innovative and tackle the environmental issues with creative solutions when they grow older. When we do something that we are obligated to do, it is always easier to do it if we know the reason behind it and for this particular matter, it’s good to understand fully the effect of plastic consumption. I came across a video produced by Ted Ed on plastic bottles which is fairly easy to understand and it is animated too, so that’s a huge plus point there. Take a look at it with your family and friends, it could be during weekend time with your kids, taking a break from studies or in between work. The video is only about 4 minutes which is not long. I think I shower even longer than that so there’s not really an excuse to not watch it.

 

Now that you’ve watched it , please please at least be more curious about it and take recycling of plastic seriously (as serious as revising for exams !). There’s a catch when iy comes to recycling plastics. Not all plastics are being recycled. Yes, I said it right, it wasn’t a typo. Read it again. The recycle symbol on the container is called resin code which is used to separate the type those plastics are made of. So, even when you recycle there is another hurdle we have to fix – providing market to recycle those plastics. Often, not all plastic categories are taken in for recycling because of the lack in demand and market for it. The products will be separated according to the plastic categories and then what can be recycled is taken away for recycling process. What happens to the leftovers then? They get delivered to the land waste and the cycle of pollution starts again from there. Therefore, apart from recycling plastic, there is another principle that you have to live by when it comes to protecting the environment which is reduce the consumption. That way, the amount of plastic produced from that category will reduce too! But, well if it’s essential and you need it maybe you can take a different approach like writing a letter to the company and provide feedback/suggestions about their production.

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The plastic recycle chart that is used globally for further understanding.

The keyword to this issue is to recycle as much as you can and to reduce the usage of plastic in your daily lives. Here are 3 easy steps you can follow for your day to day lifestyle:

  1. Going out? Bring a water bottle with you. It’s better if you can purchase a bottle container and refill it whenever you’re going out.
  2. Recycle the water bottles once you’ve used it. Prepare a separate bin for plastic bottles so it’s easier for you to collect them together for recycling.
  3. DIY ! Recreate and redecorate your house with plastic bottles. There are lots of creative ideas on Pinterest, interesting enough to make it as a weekend project with family.

I personally love number 3 as plastic bottles can be used for many creative projects! I hope that you will all do your part and recycle as much as you can, spread the awareness to the people around you and be more attentive in protecting the environment. We may not be able to eliminate the problem just yet, but together we can reduce and contain the issue from further damage.

Have a nice weekend and hope your weekend is as sunny as mine (although I’m practically drowned with books to read)!

sustainable clothes; time to convert

Sustainable clothing – I am almost 99.9% sure that most of you have heard of these words before. The trend have been on the rise over the last few years especially when more iconic people are taking part in this trend. But what is sustainable clothing all about? There are some people out there that owns environmental-friendly clothing because it’s the in thing, because famous people do it etc etc and while it’s good they’re supporting these initiatives it’s also important to understand the whole concept behind owning and maintaining a sustainable wardrobe.

First, let’s talk about the difference between normal clothing and the eco-friendly clothing line. Eco clothing are made of natural fabric that are non toxic and less polluting in their production, use and disposal. It’s not just about how the clothes are made but also the way the materials of the clothes are processed. For example, as we all know cotton is a primary material in clothing production. To create an environmental-friendly clothing, organic cotton – where synthetic pesticides, genetically modified seeds and man-made fertilizers are not used in the production, replace the standard ones making it more sustainable and ‘greener’ in the production of the clothing. These agricultural practices are healthier than production of conventional cotton which contributes to all kinds of pollution, especially water and land. When talking about eco-friendly clothing, it can also mean the use of recycled fabric and other waste. For example, the world has found a way to create textile using leftover hulls from soybean production. It’s not only helping to reduce waste but it is also biodegradable.

The objective of sustainable clothing is not limited to the production of the clothes, but it involves other factors as well such as ensuring that the materials used for clothing production is organic and ‘green’, does not involve exploitative labor practices and the materials adhere ‘green’ farming method.

Now that we’ve covered the concept of sustainable clothing, the next step is to understand the other objective of this concept. The idea in creating sustainable clothing is primarily to reduce pollution and waste generated from clothing production. The one important factor to sustainability is our wardrobe lifestyle. It’s not really helpful if you buy sustainable clothing but then keep on throwing them away in the bin after wearing it a few times. We want to reduce waste and that’s just as important as wearing sustainable clothes. So, here’s some tips that you can practice for your wardrobe lifestyle (I’m sure nobody expects you to have a wardrobe malfunction either!).

Say the magic word over and over again until it sticks to your heart and brains:

“Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”

I know it’s not easy, especially when the new Summer collection is too gorgeous you can’t resist or you have a theme dinner and you need to buy something new for the theme. But then, there’s always a way around it and these 3 magic words will help you save the environment and not have a wardrobe malfunction, a win win situation!

  1. Before purchasing your clothes, always think of at least 5 different ways you can style it. This is so that you can easily match it with other clothes and have a new look for it.
  2. Don’t buy too many clothes with the same/similar design. For example, if the trend now is off-shoulder tops, you don’t need to change your whole tops to off-shoulder ones. Maybe one or two is good enough or even better, DIY your current top to an off-shoulder!
  3. Ask yourself if you’re going to wear it before you buy because sometimes it may look good on the models, but it might not be your style. This way, you’ll not only reduce consumption but you get to save some money.
  4. Secondhand clothing! I’m not sure if you’re the kind that wears secondhand clothes but trust me they’re not bad at all. You might need to do some searching but hey, at least it’s a bargain. This is especially useful if you’re planning to wear the clothes only once or twice.
  5. Take good care of your clothes. Why? This is so, when you’re bored or want to have a change of style you can easily recycle it and give away the clothes. There are two ways to this, either donate it to a charity or you can sell it.
  6. Or you can learn to DIY and be a self-claimed fashion designer for yourself. That way you can have a change of wardrobe without hurting your bank account too much.
  7. Quality over quantity – it may be a bit pricey, but a good quality clothes can last you a long time. And don’t get me wrong, quality does not equal to expensive. There are good quality clothes out there that are just as affordable, maybe even cheaper. So do your research before purchasing.

These tips apply to all kinds of clothing consumption. I know the tricky bit when you are trying to convert your wardrobe to a sustainable one is definitely the price. My first time checking out a sustainable clothing company, I had a hard time processing the price of a T-shirt. I was planning to change my wardrobe but when I saw the price, I immediately closed the website. The price is no joke especially for a student like me. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change to ‘green’ clothing. It might take a while and you probably won’t be able to convert your whole wardrobe, but slowly you can build your sustainable wardrobe. It doesn’t just mean that you have to own ‘green’ clothes, it also mean that you practice those 3 magic words up there. So, don’t let the price stop you from creating your own sustainable wardrobe. Owning sustainable clothing is just one part of it, you can also help reduce consumption through recycling and reusing your clothes.

As a consumer, you have the power to demand for better practices in the fashion industry. If we support more and more sustainable clothing company, this will help them stabilize in the industry. High demand will shift other fashion companies direction and before you know it, more and more companies will practice the same concept. That’s what we want to achieve- a change in lifestyle that starts with our wardrobe. While we’re constantly battling between price value and ethics, there must also be a long term outlook in the industry. We might generate short term profits but in the long run, when resources are heavily polluted it will be too late to do damage control and the industry will spend more money trying to sustain the environment. There must be a balance between the short and long term outlook.

Now, time to change my wardrobe! It’s Earth Day today and I hope while many of you are celebrating the efforts and achievements we had so far in fighting climate change, we must also realize that the battle is not yet done. We are a long way to go from achieving sustainable lifestyle and this only means that we have to work even harder in creating awareness, making people realize that the environment is just as important as the economy or politics of a country. It’s probably even more important because environment is not a country thing, its a global thing.

autumn term.

It’s my last few days of autumn term and I’m so glad I survived this term, like literally. Finally some time to breathe and catch up on other things peacefully (not that I put aside anything while I’m busy with work). This is going to be a really long post talking about almost everything I have on my mind for the past few weeks, or maybe months?

First, let’s talk about how this term has been treating me. One word; CRAZY. I don’t know if it’s because final year or what but there’s always something that needs to be done. Last I remember, I swear I did more in my second year and still had time to rest, watch dramas, go out, be lazy and still do fine. Final year is like me trying so hard to not drown in a swimming pool. There’s just so much to do and yet you have no idea what is it you’re after. When I have some free time all I do is either sleep a little longer or just be lazy and spend time with friends but that’s about it. For me, my life is waking up every day with a list of things I have to do for the day. Sometimes I wonder if this is what it’s like growing up and have more responsibilities. I know it’s something so trifle to talk considering how others have bigger issues to struggle with but it made me think that is this all there is to life? What about the constant need to explore this world or simply to just live life without a specific direction and to discover along the way. So many what ifs and what could have been. I’ve been telling myself how fast time flies and every single moment is so precious. You breathe in and out and suddenly you notice that it’s been five years since you last wore a school uniform. Soon, I’ll be moving on to the next phase, leaving uni behind for new beginnings and what not. I wish I had more time, time to seek for answers. But I have no idea what I’m searching for. Is it the usual routine of working after graduate, get a stable job, find a boyfriend, get married and have kids and live happily or will it be more than just this like travel the world, lend a hand at every stop I make, touch different soil and breathe different air, learn about people, about the world and along the way find that someone who loves you, have a family and live a happy life together. I don’t know to be honest, so many questions and yet I find myself unsure of what to do next. But I believe whatever path I decide on, it is a blank canvas that will be up to me to make it as meaningful as possible. I’m excited to see what future has in store for me, but also nervous, worried, scared and every other feeling mixed together. Some days I wish I was taking a gap year instead of graduating. Some days I’m just happy that I’m already earning money and am mentally prepared to work in the future. And then, some days I just feel like I want to be a cat with a really good owner who cuddles with me at night and let me have everything I want. That’s what autumn term did to me. It made me question so many things, changed my perspective on several things and taught me how to appreciate my surrounding and embrace whatever scars I have. It made me realize how scary time can be, it can make you feel like there’s forever but before you know it you’re halfway there to your third decade alive on this earth.

Which also got me thinking about love. I spent three and a half years loving, getting to know someone and try my best to make sure the relationship ends with a marriage but it didn’t work out like how I wanted it to be. All that effort and time and yet it didn’t work out. I was afraid, still am now as to how I’ll ever start again. To open up to somebody, to understand and learn everything about them, to give your trust and just love. I know marriage doesn’t mean it’s a happily ever after and it’s not the end of the world just because things didn’t work out. Don’t get me wrong, I fully agree that it’s never definite even after you’ve tied a bond together but I’m a firm believer of happy endings and I think once I love, I settle for it, seal my heart and focus on other things. But the break up got me thinking about how nice it would be to get to know a person with no expectation whatsoever, find a person compatible with me rather than putting the idea of relationship and to only love and commit after marriage. It’s sort of a wake up call for me, that it’s not about wearing matching shoes, doing the same thing or that relationship goals. It’s about how compatible you are with a person and how you can like a person as they are rather than making them who they are not. To be able to get to know someone without any expectation that they’ll be helping us survive this world but also feel the comfort of knowing that somebody is there if you ever need a person to talk to. I guess as we grow old, reality vs expectation in relationship is so different. Or maybe it’s just me giving up on being hopelessly in love and vulnerable.

This then leads back to my endless questions of how am I to live this life meaningfully? I’ve been quite slow on my charity support because I’ve been so caught up and partly demotivated. It’s like you take one step in the effort and the world just backfires you 100 steps. It’s a constant battle and some days you’ll feel that it’s all for nothing. But I know every effort makes a difference. I wonder how the activists fight their battles every day. Their daily lives would feel like a roller coaster, with all the ups and downs and the struggle to raise awareness and fight systems, change views, It’s impressive, really. Sometimes I feel it’s never enough no matter how hard I try. But in comparison with what others are doing, I’m probably giving only a tiny dot of contribution to the efforts so I should learn to give more instead of asking if it’s enough. And then, there’s also the issue of having so much to do. I want to save tigers, but also other animals. What about the animals in the ocean then or the forests that are burning down or the animals dying because of illegal trades. Not to mention the issue with pollution, excessive consumption, release of carbon, and so so much more to think about. It makes me feel so confused on where to start, what should I do and how do I even change everything. Sometimes I wish people would be less greedy in power, less ambitious but more considerate in loving others, more compassionate when it comes to lives. So much could change if people can focus on these instead of fighting over political power, making billions of profits although they are beyond rich. If people value lives more than they are right now, we wouldn’t be having wars, killing others like it doesn’t matter. I just wish the hearts we have could be a little softer and kinder.

So this is basically my thoughts during the term. Putting the stress aside, I’m finally going to winter wonderland this Sunday, watch a ballet performance and explore the flower market. Winter break will be a mix of work, spending time with friends and travelling (of course I’ll study in between). Hopefully I’ll have more time to focus on the things I like doing and clear my mind. I’m currently knitting a blanket for charity campaign which I hope will be done soon as the temperature is getting lower. Here’s some links for you to check it out before leaving. I came across this video on Fashion Industry and how over consumption is polluting the world. The Law Society had a fundraiser last week for Redress and I taught I should check it out. The video is a talk by the CEO and Founder of Redress on her views about pollution caused by fashion industry. It’s really interesting (makes you question if you need to shop this Christmas :p) and I think it’s a friendly reminder to us all about our priorities. Also, an article about Aleppo and what you could be doing. It saddens me to see what’s happening in Aleppo and not just there but everywhere else around the world. Someone said to me before, we constantly strive to be better and fight the demons who try to lure us to the dark side but I guess the demons we’re fighting now are us humans.

 

http://www.upworthy.com/7-real-things-you-can-do-right-now-about-the-catastrophe-in-aleppo?c=ufb1

 

That’s the end of this really quite long post. Happy holidays for those who are having their school/term break! Spend your last few weeks of the year wisely, love a little harder, laugh more and make others happy.

 

 

Phuket & Elephant.

image

My recent trip to Phuket included a visit to FantaSea, a huge theme park in Kamala and definitely a tourist attraction. Yes I was aware about the heated discussion regarding the use of elephants in their performances before I went on the trip. But because my trip consist of people with different views (which is something I do respect), I thought why not go see it for myself and understand more about the issue.

I’ve been following articles about the exploitation of elephants in Southeast asian countries, mainly Thailand and the recent news about elephants dying because of exhaustion have angered many people globally. There were petitions to make TripAdvisor stop promoting animal-related tourism activities and lots of NGOs voiced out their concerns about these animals. There were several things I realized during my visit to FantaSea.

First, I understand now why it is not easy for people to make a change in the situation although many petitions have been created. Why? The FantaSea attract over 4 000 visitors a day and the elephant and culture night performance is the highlight of the theme park. If you’ve been to Phuket, you would know that the area is not well developed. The tsunami tragedy a few years back has done quite a damage and the people there are still trying to cope with the sudden loss of income and accumulated expenses from the tragedy. The theme park create job opportunities for the locals, probably one of the biggest recruiter in that area. Because people depend on this theme park and the income it brings to Phuket, it won’t be easy for the authorities to take action unless the fault is clearly visible along with evidence of torture and exploitation.

Second, during the performance I realized that the elephants were very well trained they listened to every instructions without a problem. It was weird in a way for me to watch because the animal doesn’t behave in its natural state anymore like elephants in the wild. But later on it striked me that Thailand and elephants have a long relationship. The thai people worship elephants, it’s one of the reasons why it’s their national animal. It has been a tradition for over centuries in Thailand to use elephants as mode of transportation. Back in those days, the king will mount on an elephant for transportation or even during war. Their relationship with the elephants go way back that they even have a Thai legend saying that a marriage is like an elephant – the husband is the front legs that choose the direction, the wife the back legs, providing the power! We feel it is morally wrong to use the animals as form of entertainment for tourist attraction but from their point of view, they see nothing wrong with training elephants as they have done it for more than a hundred years.

The visit showed me a bigger picture for both side of arguments. While the Thai believe that this is a tradition that must be uphold, others may not think the same due to culture and interest differences. Some of us focus very much on animals welfare but we do have to understand a nation’s culture as well. When I first spoke about this issue, a friend of mine said what about horse training? We use horses for transportation, we do horse racing and make money out of it and there are lots of horses dead because of it. What about using cows in paddy field? Or bull race ? Those are all influenced by culture and tradition as well.

The crucial difference here is that, the elephants are facing extinction. Perhaps because the world is getting a bit too cramped and small for them to live in that they have to blend with the humans and do their biddings. But what truly matters here is that, while I can respect the culture, I do believe an emphasize on animal cruelty should be said not just for elephants but all animals. Since the Thai have long relationship with the elephants, through the training the elephants should be well taken care and properly fed. The animal’s welfare is just as important and illegal trade should not be allowed since they hold high respect for their elephants. It is important to understand both the culture and also to ensure that the animals are not being exploitated for their body parts, especially one that involves animal killing.

I am indeed quite against using the animals to do our bidding but it is a culture that I also respect and hence I do understand their perspective. But illegal trade and exploitation of animals together with neglected animal welfare is something I’m strongly against.

Now, if I were to create a petition I wouldn’t say stop or ban animals related activities because that is part of a country’s culture. Without it they won’t be unique anymore, no identity. I would rather go for protect animal welfare and tighten the law on taking good care of the animals they keep. Any form of abuse should be reported and charged for neglect in responsibilities. The animal related business should contribute to animal conservation on regular basis and help fight against illegal trade.

The visit indeed gave me a better understanding on the issue. Perhaps I did understand better or perhaps not but this is my view on the matter.

reflect.

Recently I came across Dr. Jane Goodall’s post on Facebook and there are no truer words spoken about the way we treat earth.

“We must remember that we have not inherited this planet from our parents, we have borrowed it from our children. But we have not been borrowing their future, we have stolen it and we keep stealing it.”

Just because we live here all our lives, we tend to take the earth for granted and treat it as we wish. Humans create and innovate throughout the centuries to improve lives but today we are driven by greed and our focus is more than just providing for mankind but to gain from it. This has lead to massive destruction and we unintentionally contribute to destroying the earth as we catch up with the changes in this world. I read a post by Adrian Grenier, the founder of Lonely Whale Foundation about pollution and the ocean and in his article he mentioned that the amount of plastic we use daily is enough to wrap around the earth two and a half times each day. That was based on the plastic usage by US population, imagine taking into account the plastic usage by world population. And that is just one of the many kind of pollution we create in our daily lives. We build buildings and compete which country has the tallest skyscrapper, we cut down trees so we can change it to a concrete jungle instead, we kill animals so we can make money out of its skin, tusk,teeth,head and god knows what else. There are so many things we do without realizing that it is indeed harming nature. We feel indifferent because we don’t see how it affects our surrounding but in truth what we do kills nature and this is a reflection to all of us, me included to always think of others human beings and environment before doing something. Simple little things like before throwing unwanted items, we should consider recycling it. Find a way to reuse your clothes instead of constantly buying new ones and throw the old ones. Never waste your food (I try my best not to most of the time). Plant trees ! I’ve always wondered why we clear up forest just so we can build endless buildings when the forest is definitely a mightier and finer view for the eyes. I’m sure we can live without transforming all the land on earth into a profitable development area. We must always remind ourselves that living our lives, it is not a race. Being able to build the most grand, exotic, unique skyscrapper does not mean that you are greater than other beings. It is not a competition when what you do destroy others. And just because what you destroy have no voice, that doesn’t mean it can’t show you the consequences of your actions. We are here to coexist with all beings in the world. Not to be superior of one another. Some people take this lightly and with a scoff simply brush away these words and assume that this is an environmentalist’s thoughts. But if you read enough about the pollution around the world and what damage it has caused and how it will affect our future, your common sense will tell you this much; we should change and do something. I know it is not easy to change, trust me even I can’t do everything without harming the planet. But I try and educate myself constantly on how I can change things, especially the ones I do daily. A little effort by everyone makes a huge difference to the world. It is important to have that awareness in us, so we don’t take things for granted. If the earth is my house, I would be crying to see the state of my house and all the damage done. I would try my best to fix my house and make it beautiful again. I would stop doing things that cause damage to my house and I would decorate it with flowers and fresh air so that I feel at peace. If the earth is your house, would you do the same; protect and cherish it instead of leaving it to permanent damage? This is after all the place we call home for everyone and everything.