No Plastic Bag Day

Have you ever counted how many plastic bags you use within a day?

Just imagine whenever you order a take away “mi soup” at a hawker centre, the proprietor will normally separate the noodles and soup into two different plastic bags, and then put them into another bigger T-shirt plastic bag for you to easily carry your meal home.

A small thing such as a take-home-lunch will result in the use of about 3 pieces of plastic bags. How about when you purchase daily goods at the grocers, supermarkets, or hypermarkets? The population of Malaysia is approximately 28,310,000; society’s consumption rate of plastic bags is now estimated at well over 50 billion plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute. (www.care2.com ).

That is a huge number of plastic bag use per day. The use of plastic bags must be control before our environment become worse.

Penang was the first state in Peninsular Malaysia which implemented a No Plastic Bag Day in shopping complexes and hypermarkets on the 1st of July 2009. In addition, Sabah has launched a similar campaign since the 7th of June.

Sabah and Penang were then followed by Selangor,  the Miri (Sarawak) local council, and the Sibu (Sarawak) local council.

The No Plastic Bag Day campaign also encouraged the participation of local councils, traders, retailers, supermarkets, stores, and outlets around the nation. Apart from that, the programme was also extended to smaller stores, pasars (wet markets), as well as hawker centres.

With this campaign gaining support from public, the Penang state government declared ‘No Plastic Bag Day’ for every Monday, which was then extended to Tuesday and Wednesday. The Selangor state government implements the campaign every Saturday may be extending No Plastic Bag Day to weekdays.

The objective of No Plastic Bag Day is to increase public awareness of the dangers brought by plastic products, for instance plastic bags are non-biodegradable products that made from polyethylene, that requires about 100 years to finish undergoing decomposition.

While decomposing, it may be mistaken as food by animals, especially marine organisms. Many animals are killed due to the ingestion of plastic bags. Furthermore, this campaign also intends to reduce the demand on plastic bags among the public. Spending on plastic products brings enormous impact to the environment; plastic bags that end up in landfills will take a very long period of time to degrade and break down into tiny toxic compound that then contaminate the soil and pollute water sources.

Education on reducing the need for plastic bags for all ages is a must. Each individual has a responsibility to keep our environment safe and healthy. Every resident of the Earth must contribute to protecting and preventing our mother earth from becoming worse. Participating in the No Plastic Bag Day is one of the most meaningful ways. Let us start reducing the use of plastic bags today!

By Kwek Shi Ting

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Recycle Phone Books

Phone Book papers are 100% recyclable. Most of the phone-books distributed today are made from prefabricated wood to strengthen the fibres for reuse. Old phone-books are also sometimes recycled into insulation materials, ceiling tiles and roofing surfaces, as well as paper towels, grocery bags, cereal boxes and office papers. In fact, in a gesture both symbolic and practical, Pacific Bell now includes payment envelopes in its bills created from old Smart Yellow Pages phone books.

According to Los Gatos, California’s Green Valley Recycling, recycling phone books can save 7000 gallons of water, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, 17 to 31 trees and 4,100 kilowatts of electricity.

Many recyclers won’t accept phone books because the fibres used to make the books lightweight pages are too short to be reformulated into new paper. Besides, mixing old phone books with other waste paper can even contaminate the batch, hindering the recyclability of the other paper fibres.

Even if we can’t recycle the phone books we can still reuse them. It is a good fire starter in a wood burning fireplace or outdoor fire pits. The phone book pages can also be shredded and used as mulch to keep weeds down in the garden. The paper is biodegradable and will eventually return back to the soil.

Take from http://environment.about.com/od/recycling/a/phonebook_recyc.htm

By Chong Man Tien

Save Our Seahorses

After reading articles about the threats towards marine ecosystem in Malaysia, I discovered a volunteer program which intended to save a marine animal which I had never thought of it before – seahorses.

This non-profit group named Save Our Seahorses (SOS), was established in 2004 by a group of students from University Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) with the mission to conserve the Pulai River Estuary at Johor, by conducting research, education, outreach programmes, information dissemination and volunteer programmes.

In Malaysia, the only species found primarily in estuaries is the spotted seahorse, Hippocampus kuda and lives mainly in the Pulai River Estuary due to the large density of seagrass beds which are habitats of seahorses. However, due to development and other human activities, the population of seahorses have decreased by over 80% within a decade and are faced with extinction.

The volunteer’s program offered by SOS is held every month.

There are several days where the tides are low enough to expose the  seagrass bed and within these hours before tide rises, volunteers will carry out activities such as seahorse and pipefish surveying, seagrass monitoring using transect and quadrats, dugong feeding trail survey and others.

It’s sound like an interesting way to save the marine ecosystem.

Other than that, SOS also introduces other species of seahorses which are Hippocampus bargibanti and H. denise. These species were first found in the waters of Semporna, Sabah. They are able to camouflage themselves close to their hosts, gorgonian seafans with their unique appearances.

They then become one of the main attraction of divers and underwater photographers. Due to the increase in the numbers of tourists and divers, these species have been exposed to the threats due to irresponsible recreational diving practices.

Research and information collection are carried out to save these species but volunteers are required to have an expert in deep sea diving and assistants researcher underwater. Thus, I think it’s a good opportunity for those who have a diving license and have studied marine science.

I would totally support a Greenpulse plan to join in this volunteer programme and make it our first step in conserving the marine ecosystem.

By Pang See Min

Green Weddings

Here, I would like to share my opinion with all of you after reading an article about green weddings. Green wedding ceremonies convey the message of loving the earth.

The venue for a wedding ceremony is a lush Green Park where there are no ribbons and are furnished with potted plants. Besides that, organic food is served at the banquet and only the people who are really close with the bride and bridegroom are invited.

Green weddings are totally contradictory with the concept of Chinese traditional weddings where typically, a lot of money is spent on decorations and food, which inherently lead to the creation of large amounts of carbon dioxide.

Traditional wedding feasts include the blustering air-conditioning, the loud singing on stage, and luxurious exhibition-like scenes, seems a bit out of tune compared to green weddings.

Through the act of travelling by personal transport, participants attending a traditional ceremony also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. In a green wedding ceremony, guests would be encouraged to use buses instead their cars.

A wedding announcement is good news to friends and relatives to receive blessings; green weddings can also achieve the same purpose. Seeing as the typical luxurious wedding results in increasing personal and environmental debt, we must ask ourselves: “Is it worth it?”

By Lim Suet Kim