Turning apathy into action


Thasarathakumar: No quantum of economic or technological advancement can justify leaving our future generations with a toxic environment.

OUR home planet is at risk of becoming increasingly uninhabitable. Who’s to blame for this?

Apart from gigantic emitters in developed nations and mega corporations, humankind’s apathy and inaction towards environmental issues is another factor that has led to the growing crisis.

It is not too late, however, to stem the tide. With our collective effort, we can stop depleting natural resources, poisoning the air, and metamorphosing our biosphere.

First and foremost, we need to sever our inseparable bond with plastic and stop our usage of plastic packaging which has caused microplastics to accumulate in our water, food and even the air we breathe in.

There are Malaysians who are still willing to pay for single-use plastic bags, managing plastic waste improperly, failing to limit the use of non-biodegradable products, and lacking awareness of recycling.

Instead of continuing our dependence on plastic products and being bystanders on environmental issues, we should take it upon ourselves to use environmentally-friendly alternatives such as cloth bags, learn waste separation, lobby for MPs to speak up on climate action, plant trees, ditch plastic straws, adopt the refill and reuse lifestyle, and stop dumping plastic containers into rivers.

Taking public transportation whenever possible, practising carpooling, and choosing to walk short distances are ways to reduce the increasing level of carbon dioxide emission, which is one of the causes of environmental degradation.

We should also conserve our daily electricity consumption through some easy steps. For instance, unplugging devices when not in use, taking shorter showers, making use of natural lighting, and running full loads in washing machines.

According to the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation, Malaysians waste about 16,688 tonnes of food per day, an amount that can easily feed around 2.2 million people, three times a day.

With this in mind, we should distribute the leftovers that are safe to be consumed to those in need, turn food waste into compost which can be added to fertile soil to help plant growth, plan meals ahead and keep tabs on the food expiration dates to avoid wastage. Another way of combating climate change is by turning to clean energy. Those who can afford to buy solar panels, electric vehicles and energy-efficient devices should do their part.

In the future, hopefully, incentives and subsidies from the government and reductions of costs will help the rest of us in decarbonising our lifestyles at a much greater level.

To sum up, just like we are practising stringent standard operating procedure in flattening the Covid-19 curve, we should make similar coordinated effort in tackling environmental issues.

It is imperative to bear in mind that no quantum of economic or technological advancement can justify leaving our future generations with a toxic environment.

Thasarathakumar is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. Throughout the year-long programme, participants aged between 14 and 22 from all across the country experience life as journalists, contributing ideas, conducting interviews, and completing writing assignments. They get to earn bylines, attend workshops, and extend their social networks. To join Star-NiE’s online youth community, go to facebook.com/niebrats.

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