Privileged, but . . .

I came across a video today about the obvious truth about people and privileges and it got me thinking about a few things. First was on how interesting life is, that every single minute, even the uneventful minutes, once it has passed there’s no rewinding it back. It’s sort of like writing a book but without an eraser. Then, it got me thinking how blessed my life is and all the privileges that I was born with yet probably took it for granted too many times.

Looking back, I feel that everything has been arranged so beautifully that every life is a masterpiece of its own. But then, similar to the creation of a forest it’s beautiful not because the forest have not been through any rough days, rather its the opposite. We only say it’s beautiful because it has unfold its stories, faced through storms and grew back from the start, the flowers bloomed and fell and bloomed again until it grows to become a huge land of trees and nature from just being a single tree. I guess life in a way works that way too. If we focus on one event, we only see the negative or demotivating side of it. But when you see it from a different viewpoint, a much bigger one you’ll learn to understand that life has been arranged in such a way that you learn and continuously experience something that is needed for your growth. It’s not always sunny days because even the rainy days are sort of a blessing in disguise; something you don’t want but it’s probably something you need. Life is such a beautiful creation because its a combination of your efforts and the universe.

I don’t know, maybe I’m seeing this in such a positive manner because I’ve never went through the different troubles in life. I’m not sure if my thoughts would be like this if I was born in an unstable country, growing up facing gunfires and bombs instead of being in school. I probably won’t be as positive, or maybe I would realize it even earlier. That is why, when we listen to others talk about their problems, no matter how trifle it may be to you, please don’t judge their problems. It’s fair for you to give opinions and listen but to belittle others problems, I think that’s not something we are entitled to do because what each of us face in life is different and making comparisons would be unfair to all.

The thought about life also made me think about privileges. I always hear people saying things like this person was born rich, obviously they have better chance at surviving this world. Indeed, it is true. I cannot even try to disagree with this statement because if you have the means and can afford the world, then you will be given the world. Thats literally how the world works. And it’s not anyone’s fault that some people are privileged. But do we just not do anything about it ? I thought real hard about how lucky I am to be blessed with such supporting family. I was given additional support in education when I felt like the school syllabus wasn’t enough for my understanding. It’s probably why I am able to score good grades in school. I didn’t have to worry about working part time to support myself while studying. Everything I needed, my parents did their best to provide it for me. So do I feel proud when success is what I got in return? Those who don’t have the same privileges might question your success or wouldn’t take it as serious. And I understand fully why they would feel that way, it isn’t a fair opportunity for everyone.

But while agreeing to this, I must say that it’s not right when you say there’s nothing you can do about it. You can, to be honest. Make good use of your privileges and with those privileges, create opportunities for those who are not as privileged. Some people work for the money, some desperately work because they need the money. While you’re happily enjoying the big monthly salary, maybe some are struggling to meet ends. So with that power you have, you help them. Its fine to help in monetary form but we are not santa claus. Instead, help them grow so they can reach out to more opportunities. Help them grow in ways that you are able to help. Don’t make them feel dependent but assist them so they can stand on their own with the privileges you’ve obtained thanks to life’s doing. You were born with privileges, they are yours but that doesn’t mean they are only meant for you. Its there so you could help those who needs it. When we’ve got more than what we need in life, giving back is only natural. Because who else would right ? What we thought is ours by right, is probably true but it comes with a bigger purpose than just for us. So use that as a tool to make changes, to help and to grow.

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a continuous chain.

Today was one of those hectic days with so many people to catch up with and running errands in between everything. I drove to a few places today and as usual, traffic’s always bad especially now the weather has gone gloomy most afternoons. So while I was carefully driving the car, making sure I don’t accidentally ‘make’ an accident, my mind was wandering about my favorite topic ; sustainable living and it sort of started with me being thirsty in the car but I forgot to bring my water bottle today. I made a mental note to always bring a bottle with me wherever I go. This is so that I can avoid purchasing plastic bottles repeatedly. But then, because I’ll be away from home for the next 3 weeks, staying in a dormitory of sorts I started thinking how is it that bringing one bottle of water is enough? I probably or most likely will need to purchase plastic bottles and even stock them up (what a nightmare!). It’s different when I am at home, I can boil the water and refill the bottle as much as I want.

But what if I’m at a place that doesn’t have such electrical facilities? The tap water in Malaysia is clean, but is it safe for consumption?

I am not entirely sure about that but even if it claims to be, I prefer to be on the safe side and boil the water first usually. This means that even if I want to reduce plastic bottles consumption, I may not be able to do so under certain circumstances. It’s similar like how we preach about reducing the usage of air condition, but you know very well that most of the offices and buildings are air conditioned the whole day, some even until at night which is definitely more than the daily air condition usage in an average household. Also, at the same time we can’t tell those buildings to turn off the air condition because how will they circulate air in the buildings?

You can’t have your employees in suits and blazers in an enclosed office with no air condition. Its not easy, especially if the buildings are huge. So, in cases like this they have no choice but to use airconds.

Then, what? Do we tell ourselves its okay because we can’t help it?

At the same time preaching to others about reducing the usage of air condition? It is difficult and I do agree pushing forward the concept of sustainable living is not easy and some might even say its impossible because of situations like this. It’s good that we spread words about reduce usage so we contribute less to environmental problems but a bigger solution is needed in the long run and it has to be feasible.

A main concern on the long run innovation is change. Some might be afraid of change, or its probably not a good investment for them in terms of monetary point of view. For example, if you want a to drive a green car, you need to change your existing car with a new one and that’s not something everyone can afford to do. Lets say a household has 3 cars and these are bought within a time span of 10 years. For them to change their existing cars to green ones will require them another 10 years or more since its new technology, therefore more expensive. That itself is a big question mark of when will we fully shift towards a greener lifestyle. But then, what happens with the old cars? Do they send it to the junkyard for scrap metals? Some of the components of the cars will go to waste landfill.

If every household does the same thing, evolving to a green environment may cause the landfill to be overcrowded, pushing the need to create more landfills for waste. By then, we need to be ready by creating an efficient waste management efforts if we don’t want to lose more lands to fill it with just toxic waste. It is indeed a major concern especially when it comes to properties and development. There has to be a balance of reusing the existing technologies with the new green technologies. While it is great to encourage reduction of consumption that contributes to pollution, we also need to come up with solutions for the longer run.

Coming back to my earlier remark about water bottle, we could look into supplying clean and hygienic water so that even tap water is okay for us to drink. It may have started in Malaysia, but there are many factors that needs to be taken into account when you talk about clean and hygienic water. Its not just about the filtration but the condition of the pipeline, the condition of the water when it comes out from our taps at home. I’m sure Malaysia is progressing towards that, though this is still a main factor as to why people consume plastic bottles daily. So it’s not just about reducing plastic bottle consumption by bringing our own bottles but also finding ways for us to have access to water without the need to purchase it off the shelves. We also need to think about the shift to using our own bottles, what happens then to the plastic bottles that have been produced? Do we just discard them and if that is the case then how do we intend to do it without further harming the environment? Do we put it to good use for other things or reproduce it to create something else?

There are so many factors that need to be taken into account when we touch the subject on sustainable living and development. I’ve only used plastic bottles as an example here but what about plastic toys, how do we allow usage of air condition without polluting the environment? I doubt companies would want to put in fans in their sky high buildings, especially those where the workplace requires them to wear suits daily. What about the components we use to build houses? Houses today are not made of wood which is easily reused and recycled, so then there’s a question about how do we minimize waste in that perspective. Even fashion is a contribution towards environmental pollution which I did a specific post on how it affects the environment. We can’t replace everything to achieve sustainability because then we’ll have new problems on where to dump all this waste now.

The subject is so vast that every day you learn something new and every day you realize that the more you focus on it, the more you can tell how the issues are all linked together and therefore, the problem solving needs to be done by looking at the whole chain, moving together towards a bigger solution simultaneously rather than focusing on just one part of the big issue. I do applaud Malaysia’s initiative on the 2018 budget to set aside fund for research in sustainable development and their participation with other countries in tackling climate change and other environmental problems. I do hope that in tackling environmental problems, our creation not only leads to replacement of something better but also finding a conducive way to shift our existing products to a greener technology without having to replace it all together and of course reducing and reusing what we have which is one way that is commonly practiced by individuals so we can help lessen the problems on environment we deal daily.  The shift between creation, innovation and reduction needs to move together in order for us to make an actual impact in making sustainable living something more than just an ideal concept.

And on a side note, don’t ever think that as an individual you cannot bring about an impact. You can by utilizing the different platforms available and it’s not impossible. What truly matters is you taking the first step to educate yourselves about your surrounding, opening your eyes to the problems that are right in front of your eyes and actually doing something about it. Ignorance is always easier but we can’t just ignore the bad things that happens in our own home.

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)

A Paper Affair.

This is a post about my recent research on paper making and how it affects our Earth. We all know that it’s good to reduce paper usage and if you do, make sure you shred it and voila your duty is done. But this post will be more than just these two simple steps. It all started when I had to use papers during my internship. Back then I was doing a lot of company credit rating research so I had to read pages and pages of companies’ annual reports for my credit rating reports. It’s all finance stuff so if you’re not into finance, let’s just say that I had to read and research a lot. It gets tiring sometimes to continuously read reports on your laptop and makes it slightly difficult to discuss with your colleagues when you don’t have the printed copy. So, torn between wanting to reduce paper usage and getting the job done, I decided to print. Not all , though. The feeling still bugged me about reducing paper usage. Then I proceeded to the shredding machine where I make sure all my papers get shredded and not thrown into the rubbish bins. But it occurred to me, what happens then after I shred the paper? Will it help with the environment and where does all this shredded paper go?

At that time, it was just a thought which I forgot about later on. Then earlier this year, I had my final examinations and I printed some of my slides. I usually just use my tablet to learn but realized that I end up writing everything back while studying (not so efficient and very time consuming and I waste paper as well). So while printing them, the same thought occurred to me and I got a little distracted and frustrated with the amount of papers I used. I came home and with all the free time I had, I started reading up on the paper industry. I did my research and to be honest, it took me awhile before I came up with this post because I wasn’t sure about so many things with the industry. And this is what I found out from all the readings I did. It may not be complete with all the information about pulp and paper industry and this is a summarized/simplified version based on my understanding so if you are interested on this topic, you can definitely do a further reading.

papermaking

http://www.brdisolutions.com/what-is-the-paper-converting-industry

The diagram above is a clear process of how paper industry works and what is done when you recycle your paper. Starting with the collection of wood, following the brown arrow that leads to paper making which then is distributed out before going back to the industry as a recycled product. It’s pretty much straight forward and looks sustainable with very little environmental problems. That was what I thought when I first did my research. But if you look again at the process, these are some of the issues concerning the paper industry:

Cutting down of trees; the consequences of it. When you cut down trees, not just one of two trees but hundreds of them for paper production you not only disrupt the natural habitat for wildlife but also may cause soil erosion and contribute towards global warming. It may seem like a simple problem where you can solve by planting new trees to replace the ones you cut but it’s not. That’s the thing about natural resources and environmental problems, they’re all interconnected and you have to look at the bigger picture to connect the dots. The disruption of ecosystem can cause permanent effect to the wildlife and also may lead to extinction of some species. It’s not like as if a forest can be built within two weeks so should we be cutting down trees without waiting for trees to grow first ? The dilemma is always there. In fact, 40% of industrial wood is traded globally and this means that its not just a one country’s affair. People trade wood for production of paper, among other usage of wood. We cannot replenish the forest before cutting them down again at the rate we are consuming it. The question is, how do you shift the wildlife to a new habitat before cutting down the trees ? How do you counter back the issue with soil erosion ? At the rate we’re going, we’ll probably clear out all the forest and left with no more trees to harvest.

This is where the recycling part comes in. In today’s paper industry, there are two types of pulp used; virgin and recycled fibre. Recycled fibre is used in the paper production so that we can reduce the intake of virgin fibre which is a product made from the trees we cut down. So if you’re wondering what’s the purpose of shredding your paper, this is it. The shredded paper will go through a few process before turning back into pulp that is then used again for paper making.

sustainability-mobile-map stora enso paper

http://printingandreading.storaenso.com/sustainability

Chemicals and water pollution. The process of paper making, whether using virgin fibre or recycled fibre uses chemical and other materials. Transforming the wood to pulp usually involves cooking the wood chips in a chemical solution. Chemicals used, from what I read are often sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide. After that, fillers are added such as chalk, clay, starch or titanium oxide. The materials vary based on the type of product produced and the company’s methods. Even with recycling paper, you have to remove the ink which involves bleaches or dyes then convert them back into pulps that can be rolled to papers or other products. This will lead to water pollution, no doubt. It is not easy to separate chemical solutions from the water again and it’ll eventually flow into the ocean, disrupting the aquatic ecosystem and also affecting the soil. In fact, based on research done, pulp and paper industry is one of the largest consumer of water used in industrial activities. There was an article by WWF about this industry and how it’s affecting the environment in more than just one way. It also said that paper mills discharge pollutants and this will lead to aquatic problems as well as health issues. Let’s not forget that we humans consume water too on daily basis and with all the pollution, the water needs to be treated first before it’s safe for us to consume. This adds to the social cost and consumer will have to bear the additional costs.

Apart from the obvious environmental issues I stated above, there are other concerns too such as illegal harvesting, regulations, irresponsible practices in the industry etc etc. There have also been development on producing paper using other resources as many people are becoming more aware of the issues in this industry. I found this while doing my research and it’s a really good website, do check it out !

zero-waste-cycle the poo project

http://thepooproject.ourproject.org/index.php?slab=about

The development of creating a sustainable environment is a continuous effort and requires lots of researches. But even the little things, if we are able to do it we should. Here are some suggestions on how to help:

  • Shred them papers ! If you don’t own a shredder, recycle them at the recycling centre. You can google the nearest recycling centre, I’m sure there’s one in each area. Don’t forget to remove paper clips or other non-paper materials before you recycle.
  • If you can avoid using paper, why not? Save you some pocket money too!
  • Responsible sourcing and trade of paper products. Know the brands you choose and choose a responsible one.
  • Ask for transparency in the sector, exercise your rights as a consumer! If you have questions about the brands you use, why not drop them an email for clarification?

Let’s not forget that wood is used for more than just paper. It’s also used to create furniture, construction of buildings and many other products. If we cannot avoid using those products, the least we could do is use it wisely and not practice irresponsible consumption. Remember, when you buy something, the company will have to produce more to replenish their stock. This means higher demand for wood and therefore, more trees being cut down. Not all products from wood can be recycled and reused as raw ingredient. If you buy just to realize later on that you have no use for it and end up throwing it away, that too can contribute to various environmental problems. Let’s together be a responsible consumer 🙂

It’s the little things that matters, the little effort that will bring changes to the world.

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.

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.