Modern life in Malaysia is always busy, busy, busy. Whether you're sending your kids to school or preparing meals for the family while starting your own day, or you’re a single person with work and social responsibilities, the reality is that there’s never enough time to do everything.
While our daily routine sets the tone for the day and keeps our lives on track, very often we overlook the little things that could make life better in the long run. For example, we know we should recycle. We realise that wasting food is bad, and conserving energy is good. We understand that disposing our rubbish properly is important.
But it can be all too easy to fall into an indifferent routine of doing nothing because of our hectic lifestyles. What does it matter if I don’t recycle this one bottle or tin? Surely leaving the tap running as I brush my teeth isn’t really wasting that much water?
The truth is, just a small change at home can have a big impact on the present and future of our planet. So here are eight little plans for sustainable living that everyone can consider doing.
Separate Your Waste Products
Have two waste material collection points in your home – one for your garbage, one for your recyclables. In some areas, there are dedicated drop-off points where you can separate your recyclables on the spot and it’ll only take you a few minutes to put glass, paper, plastic and metal into the right bins. Some companies will even pay your for your stuff! Who can say no to a few extra ringgit for their trash?
Re-purpose Cardboard Boxes And Rolls
If you’ve got cats, puppies or small animals, don’t spend money buying toys that your pet will only be interested with for a few weeks. Turn your toilet and kitchen towel rolls and unused packing boxes into exciting playthings. It’s a cheap and easy way to create a new toy for everyone to enjoy. Once the toy falls apart, just recycle the cardboard!
Rain is something Malaysia is rarely in short supply of, so when it pours, collect all that free water in a home-made rain barrel and use it to water your plants and wash your garden. It’s a great way to cut down your water bill, and it’s especially handy during shortages in the dry season. A rain barrel will keep your plants happy with fresh water, and they’re easier to make than you think.
The science is in: Using a dishwasher is the most sanitary and economical way to clean your kitchenware. But for those of us with just a sink and a sponge, what’s the best way to wash our dirty plates? Take a hint from the roadside hawker stalls because they’re saving water and still getting things clean. So, fill your sink halfway with hot water and soap everything up at once, and then rinse.
Leftover Fresh Produce
A great secondary use for all your fresh produce cut-offs is to boil them in a big pot and make your own vegetable stock! Instead of throwing them away, you can still use your leftover green stalks, garlic peels and onion skins, and carrot tops. Throw them all into a pot, cover the veg with water, and simmer away for 30 minutes to get an amazingly rich broth that’s perfect for soups and gravies.
One roasted or fried chicken can make multiple meals! Instead of throwing out the bones, freeze them. When you have enough, throw them into a pot, cover them with water, and bring the pot to a rolling boil before reducing the heat and simmering for two to eight hours depending on the size. Skim the top off and add water as necessary throughout the process, and that’s your home-made chicken broth! Use it right away or freeze it for later.
RESPONSIBLE TRASH DISPOSAL
After you’ve made vegetable broth from scraps, take it one step further by composting the discarded vegetables in the garden. Yes, you can invest in a home composting kit – they’re a less expensive investment than buying fertiliser all the time – or you can go the old-fashioned route and just bury the vegetable waste in the ground. After a couple of months, turn the soil over and plant something that’s going to be very happy.
If you have a garden with trees, don’t burn the dead leaves – bury them in the dirt! Not only is this better for the environment, it’s also going to seriously enrich and improve your soil. And here’s something you may not know: You can even add in human hair, pet fur and those annoying dust balls you sweep up from inside the house.
Beyond this list, you can get more practical tips at the Petrosains Science Festival 2017, happening at Petrosains in Suria KLCC and the Esplanade, KLCC Park, from Sept 15 to 17.
The festival advocates "Sustainable Living" carrying the tagline "Little Plans For The Big Planet". So whether it’s recycling, conserving energy, stopping food wastage or the responsible disposal of trash, the festival is the place for you, your friends, your kids and your family to learn how even the smallest green ideas can become good habits that will help reshape the way we live, and make a positive impact on the environment.
For details about festival activities and tickets, visit sciencefestival.my. Be sure to download the official app that comes with a digital treasure hunt and additional augmented reality surprises for the event. You can also reserve your seats online for talks and workshops, and don’t miss the performances by celebrities like Zainal Abidin, Fazz and Paperplane Pursuit.