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)

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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.

 

 

Phuket & Elephant.

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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.

the power of social media.

When you talk about social media, some of the apps that comes to mind is Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Generation today connect with people from all around the world through social media. It opens up a new platform for people to expand potentials and unlock endless opportunities. For some of us, we use the social media to express ourselves, to voice out our opinions and to be heard by others. It is also used for tutorials, education, business, news updates and many more. With these apps, a news is able to reach several countries within minutes, or even seconds. And that is how powerful the social media is. It is definitely something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. While the social media bring forward many benefits and create unlimited opportunities for people, we often abuse the power of social media and cause destruction. The social media abuse is quite known across the world but in some places it is worse than usual which is alarming. This is a indeed a rising problem in Malaysia as more and more citizens find it okay to shame and condemn others using their social media.

Of course I am not saying that everyone does it, but there are some who finds it funny to point out others’ mistakes thinking that it is the right thing to do. Usually, the more followers you have on social media the tendency to be bullied and abused by such issue is higher. I’ve read lots of comments on Instagram and how some people involve themselves in arguments about how wrong and disgraceful the post is. Vulgar words are often present along with judgmental sentences. And then there are also those who will defend the post which creates a stream of hateful remarks and the blame game starts about this person is no better, go reflect yourself, you’re being jealous, you have no life ; it is impressive to read the amount of negativity in a single post.

It is not even surprising when some people use it as an outlet to express their disagreement about country related issues like posting memes of our ministers or make fun of them. Stating your point on social media to be heard is your right, but making fun out of others out of frustration ; that’s already beyond your rights. Some are even to the point of embarrassing and it just reflects how low we can be.

There is a fine line between advising and condemning others. It is something that we Malaysians should always remind ourselves before hitting that keyboard and type whatever we have in mind. If you think that this isn’t something that shouldn’t be taken seriously, you should think again. To receive comments after comments about negative things about you will mess up your emotions and mind in some ways. We do not know to what extend our words might do to others because that is how powerful words can be. It is not alright to be abused and be abusive on social media regardless of your actions. A negative comment by a single person can create hatred all around the country, punishing a person for a single mistake. Some of us don’t even know who we are punishing as we only follow the trend and join in the blame team but do we realize the consequences of our actions?

Yes, there are times that we read something awful and to not say something is killing you inside. But there are better ways than to publicly shame others or point fingers so people are divided between the good team and the bad team. A decent approach shouldn’t be done publicly, not with a million other readers reading it. Don’t you feel embarrassed when your parents scold you in public about your behavior? Or when you fall in front of thousands of audience only to be laughed at, do you feel fine with it? It is not okay right? Well at least for me it is not. We should avoid saying negative things on social media and first respect others. Instead of fighting over who is right or wrong, what the person should post or not post, shouldn’t we empower each other ? Shouldn’t we be using the social media to widen our horizon and educate ourselves? Instead of telling another girl how disgusting her attitude is shouldn’t we supposed to motivate each other to improve?

This is something we should ponder about as a social media user. The power of social media is amazing and fearsome at the same time. Never abuse the power as you don’t know what the consequences might be. Your words on social media can both lift a person or ruin their future. You have the choice to do good or create a chaos. So before you start typing on the keyboard, think and think again about what you’re about to say. If possible, say only good things, encourage others, empower the people around you to change for the better. Let’s change our mentality from condemning to empowering the people we know.