GEORGE TOWN: The first step towards saving the world begins with you. That is the life motto of Jasmin Irisha Jim Ilham, an environmental-enthusiast or as she prefers it, “environthusiast”.
The 23-year-old, who is passionate about cycling and the environment, started the Bicycle Project at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC). It is aimed at implementing a bike rental system to nurture a cycling culture among staff and students on campus.
“The idea is to reduce carbon emission on campus and also get people to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
“Bicycles have zero carbon emission. And it may even get you to your destination faster than a car because you will never get stuck in traffic,” said Jasmin, who rides “Beatrice” – her trusty green-and-black mountain bike – everywhere.
It was either that or the public bus, she laughed, adding that she never took up driving.
“I’m trying to reduce the amount of waste I contribute to the landfill,” said the environmental science graduate.
Jasmin wanted to start the project after attending a five-week programme at the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2014 during her freshman year.
“In university, there were many cyclists... and there were also many keen to cycle, but they did not have a bicycle.
“In the United States, I saw that many universities had bike-sharing systems... and they all started with just that one person who put in that extra effort,” said Jasmin.
Upon returning, she pitched the idea to her university management, only to face rejection upon rejection.
“But, persistence is key, and UNMC finally agreed to launch an electric bike-sharing system this year,” she said, eyes wild with joy.
Currently, Jasmin actively engages the youth in environmental initiatives via talks on the environment, climate change and cycling.
From bringing her own 6oz coffee cup to “tapau” her daily caffeine needs to recycling, Jasmin believes that people should fight for a greener environment within their own capacity.
“It can be as simple as bringing your own takeaway containers or not using drinking straws. I know straws seem like a small thing but it’s really not,” she said when met at Universiti Sains Malaysia here, where she is a research assistant.
She said she avoided straws after watching a video of a turtle that had a straw stuck up its nostril.
“My heart broke when it started bleeding profusely as the straw was being pulled out... the turtle does not deserve that,” she said, her face crumpling.
Jasmin is also involved in environmental-related initiatives; her most recent being a youth delegate to the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco, in December last year.
For two weeks, Jasmin and four other youth delegates shadowed Malaysian negotiators and observed the landmark negotiation process at the conference, which was also attended by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and his team.
Jasmin wants to empower Malaysian youth to be at the forefront in the fight for a sustainable Malaysia.
“There are so many policies but who will carry them out if not us, the youth?
“As much as you want to save the world, we should start with things that we can do within our own capacity, and that starts here,” she smiled. — By Fatimah Zainal