Saving the environment is cool now. We turn off our lights for 60 minutes for Earth Hour. ‘Green’ and ‘eco’-related buzzwords pepper the press releases of new malls and buildings. Waste separation has been mandatory in six states and two Federal Territories as of two years ago. We’re getting there, slowly, but how green are we really?
Despite all of the above, we still lag far behind our regional neighbours in environmental awareness and practice.But we can do more. With many environmental awareness dates falling in April, we spoke to three expats who have made it their mission to drive green sentiment in Malaysia.
French-born Claire is an economist by trade and spent 10 years in Hong Kong working in sales and marketing. She moved to Kuala Lumpur with her Malaysian husband and three daughters in 2015 and immediately set her sights on living the zero waste life she had championed in Hong Kong where she was famed for her one-woman green movement. Her zero waste path began when her oldest daughter was born and she realised that the biggest threat to this generation is climate change.
Living by the 5 Rs is a good start, as Claire points out: “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost) and in this order. Not everything can be recycled and some things require a lot of energy to be recycled. The best is to refuse what is disposable and replace them with reusable products like your own bottle for water and coffee. And adults don’t need to use straws!”
Malaysia still has a very long way to go, but all it takes is commitment. “It’s actually easy to be zero waste in Malaysia if you’re committed. Even bringing your own containers to food stalls and the wet market is a start,” remarked Claire.
Besides being an important proponent of the Zero Waste movement, Claire’s pride and joy is The Hive in Bangsar. The co-op is an individually-owned business dealing with local producers and offering ethically sourced goods; but it’s still a foreign notion in this part of the world. Opened in October last year, Claire sources fresh produce from local organic farmers while cleaning products, toiletries and jams are made in Kuala Lumpur, mostly by women operating small home businesses.
To end, Claire had this to say, “Small changes go a long way. Start with basic investments like a good water filter. Refuse plastic bottles, bring your own containers for take-away, always have shopping bags and your own lunch box for the office. All this is cheaper, healthier and zero waste!”
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