Waste is being generated globally. Although viewed to be an inevitable problem, when it is managed well in terms of education and awareness, it’s solvable.
According to Solid Waste Management, Malaysians produce approximately 38,000 tonnes of waste per day, which is enough to fill up the Petronas Twin Towers every seven days! Whilst an individual produces an estimated 1.2kg of waste daily.
Quest International University held a webinar on “Zero Waste Lifestyle” hosted by QIU Eco-Rangers president, Cheyenne, which featured zero waste advocate, Malaysian model, TV host and actress, Melissa Tan, as well as certified Green Project Manager (GPM) and environment activist, Faisal Abdur Rani who has been practicing zero waste for four years.
What’s a zero waste lifestyle?
Based on Faisal’s experience, “A zero waste lifestyle can be defined as reusing and reducing unnecessary packaging as much as possible. It’s my responsibility to ensure that anything I consume or decide to partake doesn’t end up in the landfills. It can be managed through a sustainable solution as well as a long-term understanding on how to manage the waste that you produce.”
As for zero waste advocate Melissa, she said customer behavior and expectations have changed. It was natural for us to use single-use plastic and now it’s natural for us to not use it. It’s not about buying a lot of eco-friendly products. The real intention behind zero waste living is to question what you buy and make sure to ONLY buy things that you need.
Our focus needs to move from concentrating on alternative materials to understanding the idea of zero waste and steering the ship. There is a mixed bag of feelings, to do or not to do.
“What is withholding them from adopting the zero waste lifestyle is the convenience, where people don’t have to worry about forgetting their containers or metal straws when going out. It’s tedious,” Faisal highlighted.
If something is fashionable, people tend to hesitate whether to follow the trend that is beneficial to us and the environment but has no aesthetic value, or to continue with the habits of using plastic.
“We don’t have good-looking containers, that’s what is preventing people from using reusable items. We’re forging a path towards a more educated community regarding zero waste on par with a lot of the international organisations,” the environment activist explained.
Faisal pointed out that no matter what we do, there is always an environmental impact. In order for the public to have a better grasp on the situation, we have to redefine the 3Rs (recycle, reduce, reuse). “We’re new on this journey and we have to start rethinking before purchasing anything, if it’s a necessity or a luxury,” he stressed.
It’s time to give ear to how we can minimise plastic use!
We cannot expect things to change overnight. In fact, we have to walk the community through it. Melissa explained, “People don’t listen to words, they watch what we do. It can prompt new ways on how they decide to do things. It’s about getting the ideas and inspiring your circle of influence to start doing what you do.
“Whatever you do doesn’t end with you. It’s about how you roll out the idea to the community. That’s what social media can be used for.”
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