PETALING JAYA: Mohd Faisal Abdur Rani cut a quiet and steady figure as he resolutely picked up trash from among the bushes in a residential area.
He pulled out a tablet to input details of the waste he and other volunteers gathered, right down to the brand name of the plastic water bottles.
To some, it may seem like a tedious and unnecessary task.
But for Mohd Faisal, the data is invaluable to creating long-lasting impact.
“By collecting such data, we are able to create a more targeted waste campaign for the people in that particular community, ” he explained.
Mohd Faisal, 34, wears many hats as an environmental activist.
He is a Trash Hero Malaysia volunteer leader, a co-founder of a social enterprise who practises a zero-waste lifestyle.
He has been reducing waste sent to landfills.
In his first year as a zero-waste practitioner, he reprocessed a total of 685g of plastic waste.
But for him, going green is not just a personal choice but something he encourages others to do as well.
“People think ‘trash is not my problem, it is someone else’s problem.
“I’ve already paid my taxes, why should I have to clean up the trash?’, ” he said.
“It is hard to convince people who are not willing to change, but what I can do is to lead by example. Let my story become an inspiration for others.”
The biggest barrier to change, he said, is people’s ego.
“We are trying to change the ego mindset to an eco mindset.
“It is a slow process, but we clean up (the community) and we educate others.
“It’s not about inspiring the masses. I want to inspire a second person who will inspire the next, ” he said.
As such, Mohd Faisal fills up his schedule with talks and workshop engagements across the country about managing waste even when he was struggling with cancer treatment.
“I’ve been diagnosed with cancer twice in my life. In 2008 to 2010, I was diagnosed with first stage brain cancer.
“Last year, I underwent treatment for six months for first stage stomach cancer, ” he said.
But he said that his “green mission” has kept him active. And that it had helped him from feeling sorry for himself.
“I know that there is something bigger to fight for.
“The environment is not for us, it is for future generations. There is no point giving the best education to them if we cannot ensure they can live it (out).
“That’s what I’m fighting for – to ensure that future generations have a beautiful planet to live in and enjoy, ” he said.
For his efforts, Mohd Faisal is recognised as one of the 10 winners of Star Golden Hearts Award 2019, an annual award that celebrates everyday Malaysian unsung heroes.