Local climate activist is Earth Day Network’s newly minted Malaysian ambassador

Taking small steps to reduce plastic waste can have a big impact on the environment, says Tan. Photo: Melissa Tan

Melissa Tan has been extremely busy since she was handpicked as Earth Day Network (EDN) Malaysia’s ambassador two months ago.

The newly appointed spokesperson has been in talks with different groups to organise community events, and create climate literacy and sustainability content. Also in the pipeline are plans to foster more environmental partnerships through the Washington-based EDN, the world’s largest environmental movement.

“I’ve joined EDN on a few regional digital events so far. Most recently, I participated in a global effort to commemorate World Rain Day, emphasising the urgent need to act against climate change and its effect on rainfall patterns across the world.

“Community engagement is crucial in roping in citizens, business owners, community leaders and decision-makers in the urgent fight against global warming,” said Tan, 33, in an email interview.

The TV host and model is deeply honoured to work with the prestigious environmental movement. She joins a list of renowned international climate activists like Oscar award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson.

“The little kid in me would never have expected this, but to be able to throw my weight behind the valuable work of the network would have filled her with joy.

“I hope that with this platform, I will be able to do more in Malaysia to amplify the local efforts here with EDN’s strong branding,” said Tan, who represented Malaysia in Asia’s Next Top Model Cycle Three and The Apartment Season Seven. She is also the host and producer on Tech360.tv, a regional online tech channel.  Tan highlights the importance of caring for Mother Earth on her Instagram page. Photo: @melissatanlhTan highlights the importance of caring for Mother Earth on her Instagram page. Photo: @melissatanlh

EDN president Kathleen Rogers said she is grateful to have Tan as the ambassador in Malaysia. The network focuses on building a clean, green and healthy planet through initiatives like The Great Global Cleanup, Climate & Environmental Literacy, and Foodprints for the Future.

“As an ambassador in Malaysia, Melissa will add value to each of our programmes. She is already a passionate environmentalist and zero-waste advocate. We are confident she will influence many of her followers towards an eco-friendly and sustainable living. Faced with global challenges, we remain as committed as ever to stymie climate change with the support of ambassadors like Melissa,” said Rogers in a press release provided by EDN.

Tan believes everyone can make the world a cleaner place by making a few simple life choices.

“It boils down to basic, intuitive ways that are guided by the intention to do as little harm to the environment as possible.

“We don’t have to accept the current situation as it is. We can say no and demand better practices, influence our communities and the businesses we frequent.”

Tan connects to a broad, mainstream audience through her Instagram (@melissatanlh) and website, creating digital content in sustainable living and fashion, climate action and other areas of the circular economy. A passionate environmental speaker, she produces events like The Conscious Market and Clothes Swaps to engage the public on the importance of protecting Mother Earth.

Tan, who has been a zero-waste practitioner since 2017, thinks sustainable living is for everyone, not solely for environmentalists or those who are well off.

“Through changing the way we live and consume, we can slowly change the flaws in our current system of consumption, so that we don’t keep destroying our Earth until it is uninhabitable.

“No one wants to live in a world that’s worse off. And often it’s hard for us to see the consequences of our actions,” said Tan, who co-founded the social movement The Green Guerrilla.

Out of the many green causes, Tan feels strongly about the massive loss of Malaysian biodiversity. She encourages Malaysians to introduce biodiversity into their urban areas by planting more native plants that can help support local flora and fauna.

“There is a wealth of information ready for any Malaysian under initiatives by Free Tree Society, Kebun Kebun Bangsar and Universiti Malaya’s Rimba Project.

Local permaculture gardens can teach you how to use your living space and to foster life in the natural world in urban areas.”

She is equally concerned about plastic waste and sustainability. One of her main worries is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), a collection of marine debris floating in the ocean which was first discovered in 1997.

“Now, more than two decades later, the GPGP has grown to three times the size of France, and our consumption of plastic has only sped up even more.

“It is a complicated issue – the multitude of gaps throughout the chain (from production, packaging to recycling) require affirmative action from all the different stakeholders to move towards the same direction to solve plastic pollution.

“But it is also one we can tackle on an individual level immediately, through changing our habits in our daily lives and living low waste.

“We need to influence demand by how we consume, and continue to be vocal about change,” she urged.

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