Green.

I can’t say for everyone but I do believe that there is a time in our lives that when we read articles about environmental efforts, we wonder if it’ll actually make a real impact. I know I always ask myself that. In fact, the disturbing thought will always be there when environmental discussions come up. It’s because with one effort we campaign, there are a thousand more that’s contributing to environmental problems. There’s also the dilemma of wanting to help, but can’t help contributing to the environmental issues because of various reasons. This dilemma is a personal struggle I fight every single day and I have no solution yet for it.

Last weekend, there was an event called the Cooler Lumpur Festival; a fest with forums, discussions, workshops and many more on shaping the future of our beloved capital city, Kuala Lumpur. It is my first time attending this sort of event in Malaysia and I must say that I am impressed with everything. They had good programmes going on for the weekend, not leaving out activities for kids and also small entreprises/home businesses. I attended 2 of the sessions, one on sustainability and discussion towards a greener future while the other was about writing across differences. While it is amazing to see Malaysian citizens coming together to tackle environmental issues, it is without any doubt that more needs to be done. And perhaps, even our focus ? The discussion on sustainability was attended by 5 experienced individuals; the person who initiated zero waste campaign in Malaysia which has over 4000 members in her zero waste community today, Aurora Tin, Angelia Chin who is actively involved in the Lost Food Project where they collect commercially rejected food and put them to good use, Danni Rais, a youth politician whose focus is on national empowerment, Tun Jeanne, wife to our fifth Prime Minister that encourages planting of trees movement and lastly, the famous Malaysian eco-activist, policy change-maker and a true eco warrior Gurmit Singh. Each of them had a lot to talk about on sustainability and their efforts in helping the environment, be it planting more trees, tackling food and waste management, nation empowerment and even policies.

Throughout the discussion, I realized that if I never attended the session in person I’ll never know the existence of these campaigns or efforts. For example, the Lost Food Project collected over 140 000 tonnes of food that is perfectly edible but rejected due to the appearance in the last 18 months. This is collection of food at certain state or areas, not even our whole country. To be honest, I was also taught to pick food before buying them especially fruits and vegetables. It did not occur to me that those fruits that weren’t pick by consumers would be thrown away instead of consumed. This project is amazing in the sense that it helps with the redistribution of food to those who needs it like orphanages, our food for homeless movements and many more. The zero waste campaign on the other hand, was impossible to believe at first but after the talk it got me thinking about how it could be done, what part of our lifestyle we can change to reduce our waste such as the choices of our snacks, the wrapping paper to our favourite chocolates and many more.

The session left me with a lot of questions and thoughts on how to change our lifestyles to eco living. Gurmit passed a remark to the audience about how those in the session knows the importance of saving environment but still, probably drove to Publika (where the event took place). It got me thinking if there was a way to go there by public transport but I had no clue whatsoever on any public transport that pass by that area. It then strike me that there’s a few problems in this thought itself. First of all, I can say that I was partly ignorant of the whole situation. Because I was carpooling with my friend, I took the easy way out and settled for the car, instead of googling the route using public transportation. In our daily lives, this is probably the case for most of us. We take the easy route because we own a car and it’s really more convenient going places with cars as you don’t have to walk under the extreme weather or share a space with people while travelling. We might know the fact the vehicles are highly related to global warming due to the contribution of carbon emission but because we don’t see with our naked eyes that it emits carbon dioxide we assume it’s okay. It is one thing feeling the rise in temperature but it is another to constantly notice and be aware of what causes it. Second, if I did took the public transport to the place of event on that day which is a combination of LRT and bus or commuter from where I am, I have to allocate about an hour or two for the commute while driving takes only 20 minutes or so. Now looking from the point of opportunity cost, not many of us would be willing to leave two hours before for the commute when we could be there in less than half an hour by car. Perhaps we are willing too but we may not have that much time to spare as we have other engagements to attend to. Even if I did take the public transport, there’s no way of knowing that I will arrive on time or if there’s a delay unless I’m at the station itself. So does this mean that driving is justifiable in this circumstances? For whatever our reasons are, one thing’s for sure that the moment we drive our cars it emits carbon dioxide. So even if we are fully aware of the situation, we may not be able to opt for public transportation due to various pressing reasons. For those who are well aware and are concern about the environment, they might do what they can to reduce environmental issues, but what about the general public? If you give a person these two options as means of travelling what will motivate them to choose one over the other? Some may argue that the role of a car is to take you to respective destination in a more convenient manner and at a faster speed too. So why opt for a less convenient method? Some may not even have the luxury of opting to commute because they need to be in few places in a certain period of time. Of course, I am sure that there are many people too willing to commute instead of opting for convenience at the expense of our environment but there’s always two sides of looking things the way they are.

Which then made me realize, that yes a car’s role is definitely to make our lives more convenient. What’s the point of owning a car if you need to commute for hours right? But then, using the public transport is also more convenient in the sense that you don’t have to worry about traffic or vehicle accident, though of course there are then other concerns relating to public transportation. My point is that, perhaps instead of focusing only on reducing the usage of cars, we should start thinking of how to develop green vehicles. I know some brands have their own hybrid cars but it may not be affordable for everyone and maintenance is probably costly too because the demand is not as huge as the normal vehicles we purchase. Also, since it’s a new technology there are still so much improvement to be made to bring down the cost and providing consumers with better quality. But this is definitely a technology we should focus on especially on making it affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. Even when we commute using the public transportation, we may still take the taxi or Uber or Grab to go to certain places. For example, you commute to go to your workplace and it’s fine if you’re all sweaty because your office have shower facilities but what about when you go to a meeting? Are you planning to ride a bicycle to a meeting in this weather? Chances are, you probably opt for taxi or Uber or Grab if there is no direct public transportation services to the meeting area. But that’s still contributing to the emission of carbon dioxide. If we instead have a taxi service that provide green vehicles maybe that will be a win win situation for both the environment and ourselves. Let’s not forget that we also use vehicles to transport goods. How are we planning to change that? We most likely can’t transport all types of goods using public transportation. So there has to be a real change on the supplier side too. I know it’s a long way to go when talking about innovation and green technology but we have to continuously encourage people to focus on tackling environmental issues from the perspective of suppliers and make them aware that this is also one of the methods we can approach to help the environment. As a consumer we can put pressure by stop using the products, but as a producer we can change people’s lifestyle through our production. It has to be the effort of both sides. Only then, consumers will not be in a dilemma whether to choose convenience over our beloved environment. But anyhow, I am amazed and truly humbled by the level of dedication some people put to help conserve the environment. Such efforts should be appreciated and in a way we do not want all these efforts go to waste. So, start today by thinking what’s your role in the society and how you can help in your current position. It always starts with yourself and what you can do.

(to be continued on dilemma on public transportation – user friendly ? a personal experience)

Advertisements

Join me?

Degree done and dusted, now what ?

Time to read more ! (read as: sleep). On a serious note, I’ve been reading and researching on environment management in Malaysia since I came back and found lots of interesting changes that’s happening in our beloved country.

From where I live, which is quite near to the capital city I’ve seen many changes regarding environmental awareness compared to when I was young. More shops and malls are adopting the no plastic bag regulation and a fee is charged for plastic bags to discourage customers from using plastic bags. We are also slowly moving towards renewable energy, in particular installing solar panels at homes and in buildings. I’ve had the opportunity recently to watch a video of our nation’s energy supplier, TNB on their vision and future direction. I must say that the direction our energy industry is moving towards do seem to be promising in regards to our efforts in practicing sustainable development. Putting aside corporate businesses, I’ve also seen changes among our citizens. With the new and upgraded public transportation system, more and more of our citizens are using the public transport and utilizing the facilities available instead of using their own transport. I have no doubts that the public transportation system have a lot to do still especially in terms of making it accessible for people living far away from the train stations. I believe the bus routes and system too has to be upgraded to make this possible. Nonetheless, it is good to see that we are developing in the right direction to encourage energy conservation and reduction in pollution. Being in the capital, I am accustomed to our famous daily traffic jams that can usually go on for hours. This, again calls for efforts to reduce the usage of cars as mean of transportation in the city. I would love to make bicycle as an option but to be honest, I will probably think twice (or maybe more) about riding a bicycle to go for meeting at 3 in the afternoon. The sun here in Malaysia is unbelievable! It’s summer all year long and if it isn’t shinning bright, it’ll be raining so heavily. Therefore, although I love the concept of bicycle as a mode of transportation similar to the practice of other countries, I must say that we must be realistic. I doubt I want to arrive for a meeting looking all sweaty and extra shiny face with melted make ups, might scare people away instead. But with the new strategy brought in by Uber and Grabcar, we are an app away from having a car at our disposal. The problem with our usual taxis is that it did have issues with accessibility. Not all areas have taxis waiting around for us, especially in the housing area. Then we also have the issue of taxi with metres and without which creates a negative impression on the taxi provider. If these issues could be solved and the level of efficiency is up to the standards set by Uber and Grabcar, then I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be just as good. The only worry is that in terms of regulation especially safety and insurance coverage, Uber and Grabcar in Malaysia still need to work on that to eliminate the loopholes. This way, we can promote carpooling, reduce the amount of cars entering the city, pay unbelievable parking tickets, save more energy and create jobs for people!

There are so much positive changes in Malaysia and I am happy to see our country moving towards a green and sustainable direction. Having said that, there is still a lot that has to be done too. From the different articles I’ve read, I came to an understanding that:

Development also equal to greater environment problems 

This means that we will face issues such as deforestation, increase in pollution, lost of habitat for our nature and if we are not careful contributing in extinction of exotic species. The amount of carbon emission, water and air pollution that is caused by development can affect in ways that will bring harm to people’s health. Mentioned above are only part of the negative impact of development towards our environment. While there are methods to reduce issues as stated above, implementation and awareness is necessary to ensure that all parties are highly aware of the possible consequences of their actions. This does not mean that I am against developing the country, as I am well aware that we need to boost our economy more now than ever. We also can’t run away from being the cause of environmental issues because we live based on the resources we have in our country and on the land that we step. However, I do believe that modernization and development has to be done right with more weight on ensuring sustainability of resources rather than just concentrating on profit making for the economy. We need to start thinking for the long term effects and stop making short term profit at others’ expense. To do that, more work has to be done on the regulation and law as well as the proper steps for implementation. Above all this, education which I continuously mention in most of my post is so important to tackle this problem. Because it is an issue that deals with lifestyle, it can only be changed with a change in our lifestyle. This might mean changing certain things that we are so used to, probably even practices we were brought up with. But change is necessary and is a must. It’s not easy as I admit that I’m also trying to find ways to reduce my contribution towards pollution but we have to put in the effort.

We know that education is crucial in this matter. So what do we do now ? We educate ourselves. Which is why I came across this idea and I would love to work with as many people as possible on these ideas:

  • Create animated videos about different topics on environment and eco-friendly development, sustainability, eco changes in lifestyle etc etc
  • Illustrative short comic strips, short stories that can be downloaded and accessed by everyone digitally

They are just rough ideas at the moment and still need to be further developed. I know I am not well educated in all aspects of this issue especially providing information and facts therefore I would love to hear from people with different education background and skills. To make this idea happen, I also believe I do need some guidance by people who have knowledge in animated video making and animation drawing. Not exactly a talented artist you see. Let me know what you think about it and please please I do value your feedback so don’t be shy wherever you are especially to my fellow Malaysians! Let’s make these little things that we can do to bring change.

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.

Volunteering for CAEPA Cameroon

If you notice, I’ve been posting lots of article on CAEPA Cameroon lately. And why exactly ? Cameroon is in North West of Africa and why specifically that organization ?

So let me start from the beginning and tell you all about it. I am an online volunteer for CAEPA Cameroon. How did I become their volunteer when I’m in UK and they’re in Africa ? It’s easy all I did was registered myself as a United Nation online volunteer and I am able to search for volunteering opportunities across the world in various field. The volunteering tasks varies as well which is really interesting and you will get a certificate at the end of your volunteering period. It’s good because even if you’re unable to be physically present you are still able to provide support and help the organizations in your own way. In a way it also helps you build certain skills and you are free to learn at your own pace within the deadline given.

I applied to be a volunteer in charge of social media for CAEPA so that I can enhance my social media and IT skills. Considering how I had a working experience with social media and marketing, I thought I would put it to good use and help them in terms of social media. I will be assisting them for a duration of 10 months; 6 hours a week which is very flexible and it doesn’t even affect other commitments I have. One of the reason why I volunteered to be part of CAEPA is because they are a charity body with very good ideas and concepts that revolve around agriculture and community improvements. I must say that although they are not widely known like other NGOs, they are working very hard to provide for the community in Cameroon, particularly women and children. It makes me happy to know that people from all over the world are putting efforts to empower women and educate children regardless of their condition. This is what we call humanity. Helping those who needs it and providing them what is rightfully theirs. Knowing how amazing they are working to improve their community, I simply cannot resist to be part of it and help them too in a way that I am capable of. Their current project ‘Women 4 Climate Change’ is about fighting the global climate issue and at the same time empowering women in Cameroon by providing support in ‘operation 100 trees’ for 30 women. Agriculture is a significant industry especially with our growing global population today. Many of us have been focusing too much on technology developments and such but we tend to neglect the primary sectors that have great influence in our daily lives. So well done to CAEPA Cameroon for engaging with the primary sector and using that method to empower women ! They are also involved with other efforts; one I particularly respect is how they are providing a home for orphans in Cameroon and support them in any way they can to ensure these kids receive good education and are in good health.

So if you are interested in volunteering, you must check out CAEPA Cameroon’s international volunteer programme. They have all sorts of roles available and there is even a chance to experience working at a bee farm ! You can also show your support in their current project to empower women and fight climate change by donating to them. Do support them and get to know more about them through their official website.

This are the relevant links :
CAEPA Cameroon
CAEPA Cameroon Facebook page
United Nation Online Volunteer

If you have any questions about CAEPA or UN online volunteer just drop a comment and I’ll be happy to answer them 🙂

image

Getting there, folks

Earlier today I had a learning development workshop on my frontrunner experience and what got me writing today is about our goals in life. Everyone wants something in this life – it can be as simple as getting good grades to having a stable income or a happily ever after relationship. Which is common really because it is normal for us to want the best for ourselves. What makes us all different is the journey we face to achieve those goals. Some of us have it easy, things just go well for them from the beginning and they hardly need to sweat to get what they want. Some of us work hard to be where they are today , but that does not mean that the previous category do not deserve what they have. But I would say that each and every one of us have a different story to share which is why we should never envy others for their success.

Close up of human hand drawing business plan with chalk

Here’s a picture I got online from a website about the road to success. See, it’s not all smooth and straight forward. Sometimes, the road may be a bit unclear for you and you aren’t sure what to expect. This all comes back to the objective of your goals. When you hit a dead end or a hazy road, you must always ask yourself what is your objective. Why did you choose this road ? What you wish out of it ? And if you walk down a path for the sake of giving yourself a wider option, then ask yourself instead how can you make the most from that path or is it wise to change direction ? Very often we find ourselves in a disappointing position especially when it’s a difficult journey. You feel demotivated and helpless nothing seem to work out at the moment. I’ve had my share of disappointments too and mainly is because I feel I wasn’t good enough to meet my expectations. Lots of tears were involved, trust me. But what I learned today is that no experience is bad experience. All those disappointments, bumpy roads were in a way good experiences too but it’s up to you to see the positive side of it. As for me, I fail more times than I can ever count and that taught me about perseverance. I come out stronger mentally and am well prepared to face challenges I never thought I would encounter. The most important thing about your journey is that never compare your story with others. Everyone is different. You may take a longer time to reach where you want to be compared to others but that does not mean that you are lacking. Just because everyone is racing to reach the finish line that does not mean that by joining them you will have an advantage. Sometimes or maybe for most of the case it’s always better to find your pace and follow your own rhythm. Do not be pressured by the environment, which is difficult I know but you got to know what are your capabilities and your own strength. Also, it’s important that throughout your journey you are able to learn as it’s not about crossing the finishing line first but about what you gain from the journey. So if you’re finding it difficult or you feel that the climb is too much at the moment, take a deep breath and relax. Once you’re ready , challenge yourself again and by then I’m sure you’ll be determined enough you won’t have trouble climbing any walls or crossing any bridges. And one more thing I would like to add, never ever sell yourself short. Do not doubt yourself thinking that you cannot make it. We all have potentials, some realize early while some has yet to discover their potentials. What I do usually so I don’t forget all my little achievements; I review them and write what I got out of it so it’ll be a reminder that I have done this and this and I should be able to face the next challenge just fine like I did previously. So when you have the chance to do something new, something truly out of your comfort zone I say go grab that chance. Who knows what you could discover about yourself.

For the people out there who think that their life is full of negativity, snap out of it and be positive about your experiences. You may have gone through a terrible experience, but that does not mean it will be that way forever. One day, hopefully today you will overcome that hurdle and a clear, beautiful road awaits for you. You know something similar to how the rainbow comes after the rain , sort of. Our journey is full of good experiences , ones that will make you stronger and full of confident. And never forget to always look back to your objectives so you know where to start again when you hit a dead end.

Sustaining the world – start today

Many of you must have heard about the Global Sustainable Development Goals by now. It is basically a set of goals countries all over the world have adopted starting Sept 2015 to have a better tomorrow. International companies and various industries are slowly adapting and changing their work methods to comply with the 17 transformation goals. The aim is to achieve these 17 goals 15 years from now, hoping to have a sustainable and a well developed world. You can check out the list of goals here .

It is important for people to move towards a sustainable living & development considering how alarming the environment has changed through out these years. During my visit to Iceland, the locals informed us about the formation of glacier ice and how the melting process has speed up rapidly these past few years. Soon, there will be more empty lands and less glacier ice formation. And I can personally say that my home country is way warmer now than a few years back. Heat stroke isn’t really famous back then in my home country. It’s also true that up north the snow and ice melts faster nowadays compared to few years back . In fact, a research has been done about which natural disaster has the most impact on the world and its not surprising to know that flood has the highest percentage (source : world economic forum)

image

These negative impact on the environment lead to a few transformation goals ( climate action, life above land and below water) we would like to achieve in the next 15 years.

Besides environment, the Sustainable Development Goals will also be focusing on education and literacy . Educated children is an assurance for a brighter future. Research has shown how education can change the cost of living based on past years data (source : world economic forum)

image

If we continue providing access to education to all parts of the world, emphasizing the importance of learning, by 2030 we will have zero poverty and hunger, top qualitg education and an educated generation leading to a new developed era. As for now, not all countries have access to internet which is one of the most important tool for learning. Here’s a chart of internet usage in different countries (source: world economic forum)

image

The internet serves many purpose and it contains many useful information for education and learning. Therefore, we should focus on building internet access to cover more areas and allow more people to use it for education reasons.

The 17 transformation goals are something organizations and individuals should be aware of and if neccessary, make changes so that we could achieve these goals soon. Failure to do so might cause deterioration to our nature , leading to more environmental and economic problems. Take a look at the Global risk report 2016 (source : world economic forum)

image

You can google more about the sustainable development goals and spread the words about it so more people are aware of it ! Here are some of the things you can do yourself to help achieve these goals . Make sure you read the article as it is really interesting – learn what you can do from your couch ! Or your home . Get you family and friends involved and before you know it, it will spread to be the new trend .

Here’s to #globalgoals