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Environment

Published: Monday July 28, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday July 28, 2014 MYT 9:40:40 AM

Green, for good

The dining tables and chairs in the Little White Cafe in Bangi, Selangor, are all second-hand items.

The dining tables and chairs in the Little White Cafe in Bangi, Selangor, are all second-hand items.

One couple tries to instigate change through little acts of green in their cafe.

GREEN practices permeate not just the lives of Faizah Zainal Abidin and Zahari Md Yasin but also how they run the Little White Cafe in Bangi, Selangor.

“Life has to be simple,” are words frequently uttered by Faizah, 50. “If we maintain this mindset, we will naturally go back to basics and be more considerate towards our environment, and leave as small a carbon footprint as we can.”

In today’s age of fast food and mass food production, she says the joy of cooking healthy food has been eroded.

“Ordering fast food or buying from stalls mean we end up with lots of plastic packaging or polystyrene. We can reduce these waste by taking time to cook, and using natural ingredients instead of pre-mixes.

“The cafe is where we will host our Raya open house since I have a full kitchen here. It makes perfect sense too as this place is more festive than our home, which is sparsely spruced up, and saves us from needing to decorate. Waste can also be better managed and minimised from just one site.

“My husband and I also wanted to do something different by sharing what we have with our staff. We cook a large pot of 6kg to 7kg of rendang at our cafe each year for Raya and distribute it to our staff for them to bring home, rather than each of them cooking separately and contributing to carbon emission,” says Faizah.

Recycling effort: Cafe owner Faizah Zainal Abidin uses jam jars to store food ingredients. - SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star
Recycling effort: Cafe owner Faizah Zainal Abidin uses jam jars to store food ingredients. — SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star
 

She is not particularly fond of kuih Raya due to the high saturated fat and sugar content, so she does not make any but buys some just for the celebration. For her Raya guests, she will serve fruit juices (made from scratch by freezing blended fruits into cubes) rather than soft drinks in cans or packets, in order to reduce waste. She also does not stock up on a lot of groceries or fresh foods as that will require more refrigerator space and inadvertently, raise her energy consumption.

“At home, I also make compost from all my discarded organic waste, which comes in good use for my plants later,” says Faizah, who has two sons, aged 26 and 28.

Her dressing style is simple; her Raya outfits are pieces which she can don for different places and functions. She says dressing simply will cut down on the generation of dyes and materials which may be harmful to the environment

“I usually change into my usual pants and blouse after the initial traditional wear. Wouldn’t it be a waste if we were to keep buying new clothes? We can select evergreen colours that last a long time and which are flattering enough for different uses.”

Faizah uses only drip coffee filters at her cafe instead of an electricial coffee machine so as to save energy.
Faizah uses only drip coffee filters at her cafe instead of an electricial coffee machine so as to save energy.
 

Faizah and Zahari, 48, also believe in the concept of reuse. The dining tables and chairs at the cafe and at their home, are second-hand furniture. Faizah says it is important to source for good quality products that are durable.

At the cafe, they serve free filtered water to customers to avoid generating plastic waste. They only serve drip coffee as a coffee maker uses too much electricity. Old glass jars are used to store spices, coffee powders and cake toppings.

“I hope to help people go green in different ways. The little efforts that I am able to do at my cafe can be replicated at home. Going green shouldn’t be something that you only do once in a while. Once you are used to it, you will realise that it’s really not a big deal and doesn’t take much work. Our philosophy is to never buy anything unless you know exactly where you are going to place it, and if you stick to this, you will not go wrong and will not amass things that you don’t need,” says Faizah.

Tags / Keywords: Environment, green living

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