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Published: Monday March 24, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday March 24, 2014 MYT 12:45:39 PM

6 things you never knew you could do to save a river

Here are some easy tips for making your drinking water safe. Stop polluting rivers with your trash is one.

Rivers connect us in many ways. For one thing, they're the source of water for most communities. In Malaysia, 97% of our tap water comes from rivers. However, many of our rivers are heavily polluted due to unsustainable development and improper management of these rivers. As of 2012, only 58% of Malaysian rivers are still clean, 35% are slightly polluted, and the remaining 7% are polluted. Pollution threats to our rivers are on the rise, therefore, all parties have to take care of these waterways to avoid adverse effects such as health problems, or a decline in the amount of freshwater available for consumption.

WHAT HOUSEHOLDS CAN DO

Reduce

Use less. You don’t have to use everything that’s given to you. At coffee shops, return unused tissues – you'll be saving a tree. When packing food, bring your own containers. Food stalls and restaurant operators usually use polystyrene clamshells, but these aren't biodegradable. When you go shopping or go to the market, bring your own basket or reusable bag instead of using plastic bags.

Reuse

Instead of throwing things away, think about whether they can be used for other purposes. A great way to reuse items is to get your kids into craft work, by making things out of what you would usually toss out. A tin can become a pencil holder with a bit of colour, while cards and paper can be made into photo frames.

Recycle

Separate your waste. Newspapers, magazines, plastics, glass, metals and aluminium can be recycled. Don’t let them go to waste and help save space in landfills.

Rethink

Don’t take items just because they’re free. And think before you buy. Do you really need it? Are you really going to use it? Does it serve any purpose? If the answer is no, decline the item and save it from ending up in the bin.

Compost

Don’t let your organic waste stink up your rubbish. Keep your fruit and vegetable peels dry, and bury them in the soil or in a flower pot. You’ll help to reduce up to 40% of all waste that ends up in landfills.

Close The Loop

Recycle and buy back recycled items.

THE COMMUNITY WHICH TOOK CHARGE OF ITS RIVER

The GAB Foundation, established in 2007, is Guinness Anchor Berhad’s CSR entity. One of the key initiatives is the WATER (Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation) Project.

With the Global Environment Centre (GEC) as its partner, and the support of various government departments, the foundation is rehabilitating the 2.5km-long Sungai Way in Selangor. It's a tributary of the Penchala River which connects to the Klang River. Through education and active participation from the surrounding community, the river has been transformed from a Class IV-V river (extremely polluted) to a Class III (suitable for living organisms).

Key activities include waste management, where communities are trained to transform their used cooking oil into candles and soaps, and composting. These have contributed to the vast difference in the water quality of Sungai Way. The project managed to bring life back to the river, which is a great reward for all involved in the work.

Sources: Datuk Saw Choo Boon, GAB Foundation chairman; Dr K Kalithasan, Global Environment Centre. Write-up from GAB Foundation.

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Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Environment, Environment, ecowatch, WATER project, GAB Foundation, Global Environment Centre, Guinness Anchor, polluted river

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