QUARANTINES and travel restrictions do not necessarily have to be a barrier to going green. While limited mobility and not being able to physically meet up with others during the Covid-19 pandemic pose challenges to carrying out revitalisation or environmental projects, there are still ways to adopt greener lifestyles that we can explore.
Over the past year, 33-year-old Nur Afifah Mohamaddiah has started moving towards a more sustainable diet. From eating chicken, fish and meat on a daily basis, she now goes full vegetarian for three or four days a week.
“The prolonged movement control order has allowed me to do more research on sustainability and how our behaviour impacts the environment, and that includes food choices. There’s not much we can do from our own homes so these are the things that we can have control over, ” Nur Afifah explains.
“I also now cook my own meals and realise that my waste has significantly reduced. I was cleaning the house and realised that even as a single person I collected two full bags of plastic containers from deliveries in just five months, ” she adds.
As she spent more time working from home, Nur Afifah found time to read and watch more documentaries on how our choices fuel and impact climate change.
“I began recycling years ago, but realised that I haven’t taken up any new initiatives since then. Moving forward, I want to grow my own garden with hydroponic veggies and have my own compost.”
Kishan Jasani, 34, a partner in an audit firm, has been going through a digital transition at work and looks forward to carrying on with a paperless office even after the movement control order eventually lifts.
“I would say that my carbon footprint has drastically reduced. Most of my social engagements now are virtual so there isn’t that much travelling involved. Also, client meetings and documents are now digital, ” says Kishan.
“The audit industry is notorious for being paper-heavy and it’s a good change to go paperless where we can. Clients who are deemed ‘old school’ and wish for physical documentation have also changed and that has made things a lot better for all of us, ” he says.
“They call it the new normal. To me, it’s the norm now, ” he says.
Apart from cooking at home and reducing the use of plastic bags while grocery shopping, 19-year-old Suria Zurina Huesen is now learning to “upcycle’” her clothes and is discovering new ways to stay fashionable without purchasing brand new outfits.
After reading up on sustainable fashion and discovering how the fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, Suria Zurina decided to switch up her style.
“I cut up my old T-shirts and make them into cute crop tops. Nowadays, I just buy what I need, not what I want because at the end of the day, clothes should be timeless and have great quality, ” she says.Even prior to the MCO, Suria Zurina’s father had been practicing his own style of ecofriendly fashion.
“My dad always takes my sisters and me to ‘bundles’ (secondhand shops) for clothes and I always thought that wasn’t cool and was embarrassing, but now I realise that he did that because it was cost-effective and if you know how to dig, you can find really cool stuff.
“My dad wears ‘bundle’ from head to toe and he is one of the most stylish men I know, ” says Suria Zurina, who points out that it is also good to support small businesses.
“I believe the change has to start with me. I share my knowledge and discoveries with my close friends and my family, and little by little they are doing the same.”
Suria Zurina’s mother, Karina Mohamed Kamal, 44, is supportive of her daughter’s passion for environmental issues.
“She makes us recycle our plastic bottles and cans and makes her dad drive her to the recycling centre whenever the bags are full. She also makes us send our used cooking oil for recycling, ” says Karina.
“I feel that as long as our children are interested in doing something good, support them in any way you can.”