Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Green Living Column: Joining The Buy Nothing Movement





By Wong Ee Lynn <>


The Buy Nothing Project is a movement founded by 2 mothers, Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark, in 2008, due to their growing concern about the environment and their children’s future in an increasingly materialistic world.


It soon grew into a global network of community-based groups, often relying on Facebook, to “gift” (i.e. reuse, donate, or repurpose) goods or services to other members of the group. Buy Nothing Groups are usually successful because they are hyper-local. You can find local Buy Nothing Groups for local residents in your particular neighbourhood and district.


Here are reasons why you should participate in a sharing economy, either in your local Buy Nothing group, or on another platform:

1.     Too often, we foist our unwanted items on charity bins and thrift stores after decluttering. Your donations, although well-intentioned, may end up sitting in dusty or dirty storerooms for months and years, and new and valuable items can get mixed up with older, poorer quality items and end up damaged or forgotten. Also, many charities, recycling centres, and thrift stores are not able to operate during the pandemic. Some have stopped accepting donations as they are unable to cope. This means that your donations will not be able to be used to help others in the way you hope it would.

2.     Instead of indiscriminately dumping miscellaneous items from your home on a charity, it is much more satisfying to find each item a good home with a new owner who truly needs it. Some members of Buy Nothing groups are social media savvy but economically struggling fresh graduates who need used furniture for their rented rooms, young parents who need children’s clothes and baby items, administrators of welfare homes or organisations that would gladly accept used clothes and household items for refugees and the homeless, and amateur repairmen who would like to have broken electrical appliances and gadgets that they can then try to fix. Being able to match your donations with the most suitable recipients can be very fulfilling and can greatly assist others.

3.     Participating in a sharing economy prevents waste, helps others avoid unnecessary shopping, and stops goods from going to the landfill, whether you are the one “gifting” the item or the one requesting something specific.

4.     Participating in a sharing economy and in Buy Nothing groups is also a more efficient way of recycling and donating, as you may find local DIY-ers and upcyclers who can find a use for your bubble wrap or old rags or plastic bags, and charities and volunteers who work with underprivileged groups who may need your preloved clothes for the homeless, plant pots to set up an urban farm for the needy, and old towels and rags for rescued animals.

5.     Participating in Buy Nothing groups can help you make new friends and connections and find out about events and charitable organisations in your town or neighbourhood.




1.     Before you set up a Buy Nothing Group, search online first for groups in your area. Chances are, there already is an existing Buy Nothing group that will meet your needs. Among the more active groups on Facebook are “Buy Nothing Project Klang Valley Official”, “Buy Nothing – Malaysia”, “Buy Nothing Project Klang Valley & PJ”, “Buy Nothing Project Seremban & Negeri Sembilan”, and “Beli Nothing Project Ipoh”.

2.     If there are no Buy Nothing groups in your city or district, consider first if you are able to handle the administrative duties of managing a Facebook group before you set one up. You may need to see if you have friends who are willing to be co-opted to help out as Group Administrators.

3.     If you do set up a Buy Nothing group, have a look at the rules of other Buy Nothing groups and use them as guidelines to prevent conflict, harassment, and inappropriate language or conduct. You will need to be reasonably active on Facebook in order to approve members and posts, deal with complaints and reports, mediate conflicts, and block or ban offenders.

4.     If you join an existing Buy Nothing Group, be sure to observe all group rules, be polite when offering and requesting for items, and use the group’s codes and language, for example, using hashtags like #gifting when offering items, and #ISO when seeking and requesting specific items.




1.     Post pictures of individual items. If you have 20 books to give away, post photos of each book, and not the picture of a box or pile of assorted books and the request that “one person takes all”. When you post photos of individual items, you increase the chances of your donations going to people who truly want and appreciate them, and your donations go out to a larger number of recipients. Consider this question: What kind of person would actually want a box of books or a jumble of items without looking at what they are requesting for? Chances are, people who agree to take everything really just want a few items in your photo, and will either dump the other items in the waste bin or in a forgotten part of their home. Either way, some of your donations will end up either in a landfill run by the municipal council or a landfill in a hoarder’s home!

2.     Be specific with measurements and conditions of the items you are giving away. You don’t have to write a thesis. “Men’s shoes, average-good condition, leather a bit cracked, size 7” will do. You don’t have to provide a reason why you are giving it away or communicate with the other members any more than you are comfortable with.

3.     Specify that requestors are to collect the item from you themselves. You are not a courier, delivery, or postal service. If you go out of your way to deliver your donations to their new owners, you will very quickly find yourself burnt out and resentful, and the group will not be a fun and positive experience for you anymore. Specify if you are able to hang on to the item and wait for the recipient to collect it, say, after lockdown is lifted.

4.     Set clear rules for who will be your chosen recipient. You may choose to give your item to the most deserving and needy requestor. In that case, specify in your post that you may choose the recipient that you feel is the most deserving and the item will not automatically go to the first requestor. On the other hand, you may decide to simplify matters by offering your items to the first requestor. In that case, set the rule that they have to comment directly on the photo of each item, and that you will not be entertaining private and direct messages unless they have commented on each photo first to request and reserve the item. This makes it fair to the other requestors, so they can see that someone else has requested it first.

5.     Once you have decided on the recipient of each item, let other group members know by changing the caption of the photo to “GIFTED” or “RESERVED”. Some group members may then ask to be put in the “queue”. The first person to ask to be put in the queue will be the next person in line to receive the item if the original requestor changes his/her mind.



1.     Do not give out your phone number or any more personal information than you are comfortable with disclosing. If you live in an apartment complex or gated community, you can arrange to meet the recipient at the guardhouse instead. Alternatively, choose your workplace or a public place, e.g. a bank or restaurant, that is convenient to you as the meeting point. Trust your instincts – you may feel completely comfortable giving a senior citizen, young mother, or friend-of-a-friend your phone number and home address.

2.     If at any point you no longer feel comfortable about giving an item to a particular recipient, for example, if his or her queries seem excessively personal and intrusive, you can tell them that you don’t wish to answer his or her questions, or you can just leave the questions unanswered and hand over the items without feeling obligated to make conversation or disclose personal information. If the requestor makes you feel so uncomfortable that you change your mind about meeting up and handing over the item, you can inform him or her that you have changed your mind and block him or her on your phone or social media. Such occurrences are very rare, but as public groups tend to attract many types of people, meeting weirdos is a possibility that cannot be dismissed outright. If you are harassed or if the requestor says or does anything inappropriate, you can report him or her to the Buy Nothing group admin to have him / her blocked. Take screenshots of any messages that you may be able to use to support your allegation of harassment or impropriety.



1.     You may not feel comfortable joining public groups and meeting up with strangers, or you may prefer to give the items to people you know. In that case, you can create a photo album or post in your own social media account offering your items only to your Friends or Friends-of-Friends. You can also post them in your own Whatsapp groups. Unclaimed items can then be donated to a charity, sent for recycling, or handed over to a friend or family member who is active in Buy Nothing groups and is willing to post on your behalf.

2.     If taking photos of each individual item, writing a caption about it, and responding to messages and requests seem like too much work to you, seek the help of a friend or family member who is active on social media and in Buy Nothing groups to take photos and create posts on your behalf. They may also need to handle the items on your behalf to make collection and delivery easier. Depending on the workload, you may want to give them a small stipend or treat them to a meal for helping you.




1.     You may feel that you are not ready to part with an item that you paid a lot of money for. In that case, the alternative is to sell them on groups offering secondhand and preloved items. These include Facebook groups such as “Used Items For Sale – Malaysia”, “KL Second Hand”, and “Second Hand Market Malaysia”. Be specific and truthful on the condition of the item so that buyers know if they are getting a good price for the item you are offering.

2.     An alternative to buying and selling is to rent items, especially if you have big ticket items that you use infrequently, such as power washers and party costumes. You may need to request the personal information of the person renting from you and a cash deposit in case of loss or damage. This enables you to get a return on investment on expensive items, rent from others items that you use infrequently, avoid unnecessary shopping, and prevent the wastage of resources. Local rental groups (note: NOT property rental) include “Rent Something KL”.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Letter to the Editor: Biodiversity Loss A Cause For Alarm





(Image credits:

The recent report that a total of 567 plant species out of the 1,600 Peninsular Malaysia plant species assessed in the Malaysia Red List have been classified as threatened should be a cause for alarm.


Malaysia’s tree cover, which stands at approximately 55.3%, obscures the alarming reality of biodiversity loss in Malaysia, but the fact remains that tree cover is not the same as natural forest cover. Most of Malaysia’s tree cover consists of plantations and degraded forest land. Plantations do not have the same biodiversity value and cannot provide the same ecosystem services as natural forests. Intact and biodiverse forests protect watersheds and water quality, are more resistant to fire and drought, regulate climate and weather patterns, and provide habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna.


Biodiversity ensures food security, as a biodiverse ecosystem will provide genetic resources for a variety of food, including those that are resistant to fungi and diseases that may wipe out cultivated strains of crops. Keeping forests intact and biodiverse prevents wild species from crossing into human habitation and spreading both known and new diseases to domestic animals and humans, and thus protect biosecurity. Approximately 50,000 to 70,000 plant species are used by humans for traditional and modern medicine worldwide. Biodiversity loss will limit the discovery of potential new medicines and medical treatments.


Humans rely on the ecosystem services such as the supply of clean air and water provided by healthy and biodiverse ecosystems. The National Water Resources Study 2000-2050 warns that Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Penang, Perlis, Putrajaya, and Selangor are at risk of water deficits, partly due to the loss of vital water catchment areas, and partly due to poor water management systems and habits.  


The UN FAO reports that only 18.7% of forests in Malaysia is classified as primary forest, the most biologically diverse and carbon-dense ecosystem, and that only 11.6% of the forests in Malaysia is classified as ‘pristine’.


Malaysia is rapidly losing forested areas to agriculture and development, and state governments continue to degazette forest reserves and issue logging permits with impunity. The requirement that states gazette replacement sites for degazetted reserves does nothing to turn the tide of biodiversity loss. States are running out of suitable sites to gazette as replacement forest reserves, and further, the gazettement of secondary forests and degraded land cannot be a substitute for the protection of natural and intact forests.


Google’s global forest map reveals that between 2000 and 2012, Malaysia had the world’s highest deforestation rate at 14.4%. Satellite data from the Carnegie Landsat Analysis System-lite platform shows that over 80% of the rainforests in East Malaysia have already been logged.


Between 2000 and 2009, over 9,000 hectares of Permanent Forest Reserves were degazetted in Malaysia, threatening watersheds and carbon sequesters, and destroying flora and fauna including those classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The degazettement of the Bikam Permanent Forest Reserve in 2013 caused the extinction of the Keruing Paya, a critically endangered hardwood tree, in Peninsular Malaysia.


The best way to mitigate biodiversity loss is by protecting existing forests. One of the main problems why forest conservation is so challenging in Malaysia is that the Federal Constitution gives states jurisdiction over their land, water, and forests. Forestry revenue accrues to the state government and not to the federal government, and as such, forests and extraction-based industries such as logging and mining are a major source of revenue for state governments seeking short-term gain.


Government agencies set up to manage forests see forests not as sensitive ecosystems to be protected, but as resources for socioeconomic development. However, the economic benefits of logging and mining are short-lived and can sustain only 1-2 generations at most. State governments stand to lose more from the loss of forests and the ecosystem services they provide. Droughts, floods, soil erosion, landslides, and health crises such as dengue and malaria outbreaks will all cost the state and federal governments more in the long run. We need to stop relying on commodity crops and extraction-based industries as our primary source of revenue. If we build a knowledge and skills-based economy and stop relying on monoculture crops and extraction-based industries as our country’s primary source of revenue and jobs, we can find better ways of sustaining our economy.


We need to rid ourselves of the mentality that the loss of threatened tree species does not affect us, or that it can be rectified through tree-planting campaigns and gazetting degraded land as replacement forest reserves. Tree-planting campaigns, habitat restoration, the setting up of seed banks, and environmental education for the younger generation, all take time to bear results. And time is a luxury that threatened species do not have. Biodiversity is not merely something that is nice to have, but essential to the survival of humanity and a living planet.







Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Letter to the Editor: End Deforestation Before Embarking On Tree-Planting Campaigns



It is difficult for environmentalists not to respond with scepticism to the Prime Minister’s 100 Million Tree Planting Campaign. While it is heartening to see that the government acknowledges climate change to be a real and imminent threat, the actions of those in power thus far are not consistent with environmental protection, climate mitigation, or biodiversity preservation. 

The PM claims that Malaysia has forest cover of 55.3%, which is wildly inaccurate as it includes plantations, which consist of monoculture crops that rely on large quantities of synthetic herbicides, insecticides, bactericides, and fertilisers in order to thrive. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reported Malaysia’s primary forest cover to be at 18.7% in 2010, and it has decreased since then. Tree cover is not the same as forest cover, and not everything that puts out roots and leaves is automatically beneficial to the environment. Old-growth forests store carbon for centuries, whereas plantations constitute net emitters of carbon due to the disturbance of the soil and degradation of the previous ecosystem. Plantations cannot be classified as forests, and they are in fact a direct threat to forests due to the fact that forests are cleared for agricultural expansion. For the sake of scientific accuracy and for this massive tree-planting campaign to be an actual climate mitigation strategy, this inventory of 100 million trees must necessarily exclude plantation trees. 

While a tree-planting campaign of this magnitude sounds good in theory, the Perikatan Nasional government does not have a credible environmental track record. Just days before the announcement of the 100 Million Tree Planting Campaign, the Kedah government proposed to log 25,000 hectares of the Ulu Muda forest, which is a vital water catchment area and biodiversity hotbed. Further, there are recent reports of logging in the vicinity of the Jerantut Tambahan Forest Reserve and Lesung Permanent Forest Reserve, among other forest reserves. Things in Pakatan Nasional controlled states are not much better, as the Selangor State Government is adamant about proceeding with its plans to degazette and destroy the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve. Based on these precedents, it is difficult to believe that the government is in any way committed to protecting the environment. 

Planting trees make up only a partial solution to the effects of deforestation. A better, less expensive, and less quixotic option would be to end or at least reduce deforestation. Let us remember that mature trees offset far greater amounts of carbon dioxide than young trees. A tree will only begin to be effective in absorbing carbon in its tenth year, so planting trees as a climate mitigation strategy is not going to produce the results we want to see within our lifetimes. Intact forests provide many ecosystem services that newly-planted trees can’t. Researchers from 15 countries published their findings in Nature in 2014 that old trees not only store carbon and prevent it from escaping into the atmosphere, but actively convert carbon dioxide from the air into their trunks, branches, and leaves, a feat that is not replicated by young trees. Currently, the Earth’s forests and soil absorb about 30% of atmospheric carbon emissions. Mature and biodiverse forests store carbon, recycle water, prevent erosion, harbour biodiversity, and improve air and water quality. When trees are cut down, years of a forests’ stored carbon are released back into the atmosphere. When we plant forests, we gain some of the benefits that forests provide, but it takes decades to grow a healthy forest, and humanity is running out of time. 

I can see the appeal of a massive tree-planting campaign to those in power. It creates the appearance that the government is doing something proactive to protect the environment, and also creates public relations opportunities for corporations, particularly those in polluting and destructive sectors such as construction, property development, and oil and gas, to perform a corporate social responsibility exercise to improve their image. Before we embark on this ambitious and expensive campaign, however, it would be good to know what plans the government and its corporate partners have beyond planting trees. Planting millions of trees is the easy part. Tracking these trees and ensuring the young trees’ survival is the challenging part. Mega tree-planting efforts in India, Turkey, and Ethiopia record the number of saplings planted, but are unable to provide accurate and adequate information about the survival rate of these saplings. What makes us think that Malaysia is going to be the exception, given our society’s poor maintenance culture? Tree-planting campaigns are also a cop-out for governments and corporations because it is a way of avoiding having to address more serious environmental issues such as deforestation, pollution, mining, and other destructive activities. 

By all means, we should plant as many new trees as possible, especially native trees that provide food and shelter for native fauna. However, we need to stop pretending that it will solve the environmental problems caused by weak governance, greed, and the prioritising of short-term benefits over environmental integrity. If the PM truly cares about “greening Malaysia” and our trees, as he had claimed, he would start by putting a halt to deforestation and the degazettement of forest reserves. 



Sunday, January 17, 2021

Reducing The Environmental Impact of Your Internet Use





(Compiled and edited by Wong Ee Lynn.

Sources: and


The Internet has completely changed how we communicate, work, get entertained, informed, or do our shopping. But the truth is that the Internet also has a huge impact on our planet.


Manufacturing cellphones, laptops, and other types of devices and equipment means extracting (and separating or transporting) rare earth minerals from the Earth. Further, data centres that represent the “cloud” have a high energy consumption rate, due to the storage and the permanent flow of data. The Internet was estimated to emit 600 million tonnes of CO2 a year in 2015 – as much as the world’s total civil aviation emissions.


Here are some simple tips to reduce the impact of your internet usage on the environment.


1 – Keep Your Laptop and Other Digital Equipment For Longer Periods


The manufacturing of our laptops, smartphones, and digital devices has a far bigger environmental footprint than how we use them.


By extending the life of our equipment, we can reduce the high environmental cost of replacing and disposing of our devices. We need to take better care of our equipment, for example, by using phone screen protectors and protective casings, not leaving devices in places where they may be stolen or dropped from a height, not leaving devices in wet or damp areas or in hot cars, not overcharging devices, and keeping devices clean and covered to protect them from dust, dirt, and pet hair.


If you can use your laptop for 8 years instead of 3-4 years, and your smartphone for at least 4 years instead of 2 years, you can halve the environmental impact of your devices.


2 – Reduce Video Streaming


Streaming, that is, the transfer of real-time data for videos, often viewed in high-definition quality, has a very high energy consumption rate. One of the best ways to reduce your internet energy consumption would be to limit the use of streaming and reduce unnecessary and mindless viewing. 


If you are a web designer or social media page admin, try to avoid creating webpages with videos that launch automatically. Most page visitors will scroll past or put it on mute anyway, so it is better to have an effective image or poster than a video clip.


Find ways to consume media without video streaming, for example, by listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, on platforms that give you the option of downloading or streaming only the audio files without videos.



3 – Reconsider Cloud and Online Storage


Online storage solutions, such as the Cloud, consume more energy than storing data on your device or into a thumbdrive. Each photo or data you store online must be permanently preserved on a server that needs to be powered. And every time you want to access this data, you have to exchange data with this server which consumes still more energy – both on your terminal, and via the network.


Therefore, do not store all your data in the Cloud. Opt for local storage whenever possible, and transfer photos and files from your phone to your laptop or a storage device such as a thumbdrive for storage and preservation purposes.


4 – Learn How To Use Your Equipment Better


Most consumers leave their internet router turned on during the night, which consumes energy pointlessly. Unless specifically advised against it by your service provider, switch your router off at night.


Many consumers also continue to use 4G at home or in the office instead of their home or office wi-fi, but browsing wi-fi consumes much less energy than browsing the mobile network. Whenever possible, choose wi-fi navigation.


5 – Manage Your Emails Better (Without Deleting Them)


To reduce energy waste, we need to manage our emails. This does not mean deleting them, as once sent, removing it does not have a big impact on the overall carbon footprint of our internet use. According to Frédéric Bordage of, there are 5 actions we can take:

  • Send fewer emails and limit the number of recipients to those on a need-to-know basis;
  • Write emails in text format rather than HTML (12 times less heavy and therefore less energy consuming);
  • Avoid attachments and email signatures, especially images that weigh down emails;
  • Unsubscribe from the newsletters you’re no longer reading; and
  • Do not print your emails, as this wastes energy as well as paper.

6. Take Care of Your Laptop to Save Energy and its Battery Life.

Up till a few years ago, it was still advisable to disconnect computers or other devices on mains because of the fear that batteries would get overcharged by the continuous consumption of electricity. Today, manufacturers and tech companies confirm that modern equipment is designed to stop charging once the battery is full. Although overcharging batteries may not necessarily waste electricity, we need to know if this will have an impact on the battery life.


According to several experts such as Green IT and Battery University, there is a method to extend the batteries’ life when charging them: avoiding extreme cycles. This means not leaving the battery of your devices get to really low levels before charging it.


For example, Battery University says that a battery charged to 70% will get 1,200-2,000 discharge cycles, while a fully charged battery will have only 300-500 discharge cycles. In this way, ideally, you should avoid letting your battery drain too much (and keep it above 20-30%) but also avoid reaching 100% charge. It is therefore desirable that batteries are always charged between 40-80%.


When using a computer that is frequently connected to a mains supply, it is recommended to set a maximum load of 80% to prevent the battery from being full at all times. Also, avoid letting your laptop’s battery get completely discharged. These best practices will prolong the life of your battery — in some cases by as much as 4 times.





Thursday, January 14, 2021

New Year Resolutions Ideas and Tips for 2021

It is the coming of a brand new year again. I am thinking about how I performed in taking care of our mother earth in 2020. And how I can do better in 2021.

Here it is what I came out with and I hope it helps you in any way by sharing how I set my 2021 environment goals and tips to follow them. Each and everyone of us can be an Eco-kid and can do something, no matter the amount.

My yearly environment goals are…

  1. Always use my fountain pen. Don’t buy single use plastic pens

  2. Make 30% of my baking vegan

  3. Prepare nutshell lines for quick, convincing speeches about the environment.

  4. Write to at least 3 hotels/restaurants/events/etc about changing un-eco- friendly ways other than just getting rid of plastic straws 

  5. Make 11 more Eco Kid columns for 2021!

Remember to start small with your environment goals and work your way up! The more specific you are with your environment goals the more likely you will achieve them. Plan your environment goals with reality! If your environment goals are too hard it will be hard to stay committed to them. Remember it will be hard to stay motivated throughout your environment goals, motivation is a feeling, it will come and go. Being committed to my goals and having reasons to stay committed has been an easier way to keep pushing through my goals instead of waiting for the feeling of motivation to continue. 

It might be hard to plan specific daily, weekly, monthly and yearly environment goals for the first time, in fact this 2021is my first time going into specific daily goals! Try setting general daily goals first for example: bring my reusable mask out with me everyday. Then adding on the yearly goals like: become a vegan/vegetarian this year. After you get used to that, add monthly goals like: this January I am not going to support new year fireworks and educate my friend about the way fireworks affects the environment. Then layer on weekly goals like: on Monday I am going to go meatless, then next week I am going to go meatless on Monday and Friday.And finally daily goals like: figure out with my parents how to get my daily protein intake when I am a vegetarian.  Remember to check your environment goals with your parents first! 

It might take a year or three (it took me two & a half years) to get used to and maximise your yearly, monthly, weekly & daily environment goals! Go easy on yourself if you can’t get it right the first time. The first time I started setting environment goals it was very messy and hard to keep up with them. But I slowly learned how to set my goals so that it is easier to keep up with them from my mistakes. And I am still learning! I like setting yearly and general daily goals at the start of the new year, then setting monthly, weekly and daily goals as I get to each month/week/day.

Here are some possible goals you could set for yourself…

Easy environment goals for aspiring eco-kids

  1. Pack a reusable cutlery set in your bag everyday (remember it isn't about buying new pretty cutlery or metal straws, it is about using what you have and being okay about it) 

  2. Switch to a reusable mask to wear everyday (you can start with one day a week and slowly work your way up!)

  3. Set one day a week to go meatless or even vegan

  4. Don’t play with fireworks during chinese new year (lets just say, this takes lots of self control, I still find myself cheating)

  5. Say no to plastic/paper cups and plates (if plastic/paper plates and cups are the only option, my sibling and I will share a plate and don’t take the drinks)

  6. Start bringing a reusable shopping bag  and tiffin in your parents car

  7. Use bamboo toothbrushes

Moderately hard environment goals for eco-kids

  1. Challenge yourself to eat go a week straight without eating meat

  2. Start buying from farms that support the environment

  3. Start buying free-range eggs too

  4. Get your shampoo and body bath from bring-your-own-bottle places or switch to soap and shampoo bars

  5. Only shop for the clothes you need, and try using second hand clothes from your friends instead. Ask your parents if you can cut off your monthly or weekly shopping sprees.

  6. Use both sides of every paper you draw on. (I like having a clean paper folder and a used-on-one-side paper folder to keep the paper neat)

  7. Ask your parents not to go to restaurants that don’t use reusable plates, cups and cutlery

Changemaking environment goals for eco-kids experts

  1. Ask your parent to buy as much necessities as possible from zero waste stores

  2. Ask your parents if it is okay to go vegetarian or vegan

  3. Educate and change one friend or family member on going eco friendly

  4. Help out at a animal shelter or a turtle sanctuary

  5. With the help of a grown up, upcycle a piece of clothing or a item to something useful

  6. Write into a restaurant about going eco friendly with your parents. Don’t just cut off the plastic straws, give eco-friendly suggestions on the use of cutlery, plates, cups, asking their employees to wear reusable masks, to provide vegetarian and vegan options,etc.

Always remember to ask your parents before doing or setting any environment goals. Stay committed and have fun being a eco-kid this 2021!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Green Living Column Jan 2021: SDG12 - Responsible Consumption and Production





 By Wong Ee Lynn <>


(Image credits:

In December 2020, Green Living Coordinator Ee Lynn was interviewed by Ecocentric Transitions for their Science Film Festival – Goethe Institute SDG Online Series for a special episode on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.


You can view the video here:

(Image credits:

As the video is over 40 minutes in length, we have decided to provide you with a summary in the form of the quick facts below:



1.      1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year, yet almost 2 billion people go hungry or undernourished. At the same time, 2 billion people globally are categorized as overweight or obese.

2.      The production of food accounts for around 22%  of total greenhouse gas emissions, and this is largely from the conversion of forests into farmland. Globally, agriculture accounts for 92% of global freshwater use. 29% of the water used in agriculture is directly or indirectly used for animal production.

3.      Livestock is the world’s largest user of land resources, with pasture and arable land dedicated to the production of feed representing almost 80% of total agricultural land. One third of global arable land is used to grow feed, while 26% of the Earth’s ice-free terrestrial surface is used for grazing.

4.      If we continue to consume and waste resources the way we do, by the year 2050, we will need the equivalent of 3 planet earths to sustain our lifestyles.

5.      World or Earth Overshoot Day is the calculated calendar date on which humanity’s resource consumption for that year exceeds the Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources that year. It’s like taking out a bank overdraft that you know you’re not going to be able to pay back.

6.      The way you calculate Earth Overshoot Day is by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (which is the amount of natural resources generated by Earth that year) by the world ecological footprint (which is humanity’s consumption of Earth’s natural resources for that year) and multiplying it by 365.

7.      Ecological overshoot started in the early 1970s and is getting earlier each year. Earth Overshoot Day 2019 fell on the 29th of July, the earliest ever. However, due to the Covid19 pandemic, Earth Overshoot Day 2020 was pushed back to the 22nd of August. This is mostly because of reduced fossil fuel consumption, people were flying and driving less, and many factories and plants had to temporarily shut down. There was also a 8.4% reduction in deforestation and the harvesting of forest products because of movement restrictions worldwide and also because of lower demand, which is good for the forests. The pandemic made us aware that we can and should consume less, and we can do so without significantly reducing the quality of our lives.

8.      We need food to survive, but the food we choose makes a big difference to our carbon footprint. Food accounts for between 10 to 30 % of a household’s carbon footprint. Food production accounts for 68% of food’s carbon emissions, while transportation accounts for 5% of it. Since transportation accounts for only 5% of the carbon footprint of our food, we should focus more on WHAT we eat, not whether or not our food is locally produced and sourced.

9.      Meat production has a larger carbon footprint per calorie than plant-based food, because of the inefficient transformation of plant energy to animal energy, and due to the methane released from manure management and enteric fermentation in livestock. It’s not efficient because its production is responsible for 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, but meat products provide merely 18% of calories and 37% of protein levels around the world.

10.   70% of the deforestation of the Amazon is to provide land for cattle ranches so if you want to do something to protect the Amazon rainforest, one of the best things you can do would be to go vegan if you can, go vegetarian if you can’t go vegan, and reduce meat and dairy consumption as much as possible if you can’t go fully vegetarian either. A regular meat-eater has the highest carbon footprint at 3.3 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. A vegan diet has the lowest carbon footprint at only 1.5 tons. You can reduce the carbon footprint of your food by up to 73% just by cutting out meat and dairy.

11.   Researchers at the University of Oxford found that if everyone stopped eating meat and dairy, global farmland use could be reduced by 75%. This is an area equivalent to the size of the USA, China, Australia, and the European Union combined. Not only would this significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up land which can then be rewilded to support wildlife populations again.

12.   Cities and towns need to be resilient in that in the event of a major disaster or adverse event causing it to be cut off from other cities, it should be able to produce sufficient food to meet the immediate needs of its residents. In neighbouring Singapore, there are sky farming initiatives to boost the nation’s food security by growing vegetables and fruits via hydroponics and aeroponics. Singapore also has the distinction of becoming the first country to approve the sale of lab-grown meat, and this will no doubt improve its food self sufficiency because it will no longer have to rely as heavily on countries with grazing land for animal protein. It would be great to see Malaysia take steps towards increased food self sufficiency in each state and city, and promote the replacement of conventionally grown meat with lab-grown meat and plant-based meat, for environmental and health reasons, and also for food self-sufficiency.