Friday October 19, 2012
21 Greenlisation - encouraging youths to adopt regular green habits
By MENG YEW CHOONG
New movement aims to raise eco-consciousness among youths.
GOING green is now fashionable. And so is volunteerism. For Dr Theng Lee Chong, the combination of the two is a potent force to make the earth a better place to live in.
Fresh from launching the Green Living Society Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (GLS) in June, the waste management expert is now bringing to fruition some of the things he and his committee members have envisaged for the organisation.
Tomorrow, the group will unveil 21 Greenlisation, an initiative which encourages youths to adopt daily green habits. The campaign is sponsored by property development group SP Setia Bhd and supported by the Youth and Sports Ministry, Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry, The Star and 988FM.
“We coined the word ‘greenlisation’ from ‘green’ and ‘realisation’ while the ‘21’ represents 21 days, which is the minimum number of days said to be needed to form a new habit, or to break an existing one. This is premised upon an iconic book called Psycho-Cybernetics authored by the late Dr Maxwell Maltz in the 1960s,” said Dr Theng, 39, a father of three who is passionate about the efficient use of society’s limited resources.
(Maltz is an American cosmetic surgeon and author who promulgated the importance of the mind-body connection in determining whether one succeeds or fails in attaining personal goals.)
The core group behind GLS are young professionals who are enthusiastic about a green lifestyle.
“We hope to target youths, and as far as the definition goes, it can be someone up to 40 years old,” said Theng, the GLS president who believes in starting people young on the green track as children often wield a special form of persuasive power over their parents and elders.
Deputy Youth and Sports Minister, Gan Ping Sieu, who is patron of the society, is hopeful that even parents will lend their support to the cause. “The formation of good habits should begin early, as it is increasingly difficult as a person ages,” he said.
The first habit to be promulgated under the campaign is “Carry a handkerchief”, so as to minimise the use of paper napkins and tissue. This will reduce use of paper and, eventually, waste paper. Gan shared that when he was young, his late grandmother would place a fresh handkerchief on the table each morning for him to take to school. This habit has stayed with him, though once a while, he would still use tissue paper. “But I always have a handkerchief on me. If anything, this just shows the importance of starting young.”
The other behavioural changes that GLS hopes to impart are: setting the air-conditioner at no lower than 26˚C; not wasting food (by planning the portions before cooking or finishing food taken from the buffet); eating less meat; reducing the use of disposables (by bringing personal utensils or cutlery when eating out); turning off electrical equipment when not in use; planting trees; bringing reusable bags along when shopping; not littering (and picking up trash); and using a cup to rinse when brushing teeth (rather than letting the tap run).
Gan emphasises that GLS intends to do things differently. “It will not be about massive launch events. We would rather start small and attract like-minded people to join us purely out of a sense of volunteerism.”
He notes that many people now volunteer their time and energy based on their personal interests rather than out of a sense of duty to an organisation or body. “Let us take a flash mob for example. People will just turn up, even when they have never met each other. They will perform or do things just because they are interested in the cause.”
GLS feels that this new way of volunteering or joining forces can work in its model which is almost exclusively based on social media. “For example, we can assist partners who are into cleaning the beach. By just sending an e-mail blast, we can reach a wide audience, who can just turn up for the event.”
The GLC Facebook page highlights why people should stop littering by showing pictures of how plastic litter chokes marine life. Also, pictures of foul landfills serve to remind people of the consequences of their use-and-throw mentality, and why they should minimise, separate and recycle their trash.
As someone who works with youth groups, Gan is well aware of the current limitations of youth groupings and organisations when it comes to championing major environmental issues. “Take for example, recycling or other major green endeavours such as tackling river pollution, deforestation and so on. Admittedly, some of these are beyond the capabilities of small groups as they require huge resources, and in any case, there are already other established non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are already championing such causes.”
Take for example, food waste recycling, which Dr Theng is familiar with in his capacity as a consultant on waste management to the Government. A relatively straightforward concept like food waste collection for composting in Subang Jaya, Selangor, requires the backing of an entire municipal council, and technical assistance from others, before it could take off.
Likewise, to introduce recycling in schools would require the backing of the Education Ministry, the state education departments, and even district education offices for logistical support, as well as the private sector, before it can work well.
To avoid wastage of resources or duplication of efforts, GLS intends to work with other NGOs and assist them in their green causes. It will attempt to bring everyone together, in order to cast the net far and wide as far as the dissemination of information and networking is concerned. For example, GLS is not about to start any recycling programme, and prefers to leave that to other established organisations.
“We hope to bring people together, and help in publicity and promotion. Organising events will also not be our main job. We have no huge budget, and our events and activities will be low-key in nature. It is about fostering networking,” said Gan.
Be at Setia City Mall (setiacitymall.com) in Shah Alam, Selangor, at 10am tomorrow for the launch of 21 Greenlisation and to meet the campaign’s two green ambassadors, squash player Azlan Iskandar and singer Shila Amzah. There will be games, exhibitions and dance performances. For more information, go to greenliving.org.my or facebook.com/ green.living.society.games.