How sin­cere are we?

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Opinion - Pola Singh Kuala Lumpur star2@thestar.com.my

JUST as elec­tric­ity is so easy to use, it is also so easy to waste – do you al­ways re­mem­ber to switch off the lights or the pho­to­copier in the of­fice when clock­ing out last?

In our daily lives, to what ex­tent are we mak­ing an ef­fort to use pub­lic trans­port such as the Klang Val­ley’s MRT in­stead of pri­vate ve­hi­cles? How are we sup­port­ing re­cy­cling ef­forts? How many are will­ing to go the ex­tra mile to pro­tect and safe­guard our ex­ist­ing lim­ited green spa­ces in the city?

Even though many Malaysians be­lieve that en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sid­er­a­tions should be given pri­or­ity, our in­creas­ingly af­flu­ent life­styles un­for­tu­nately in­di­cate other­wise. So let’s stop hid­ing be­hind the “go­ing green” la­bel and be hon­est about our life­styles that, more of­ten than not, is the an­tithe­sis to the no­ble ob­jec­tives of a green regime.

Can we make a start by be­ing sin­cere and mak­ing se­ri­ous ef­forts to re­duce our car­bon emis­sions or foot­prints? In short, how sin­cere are we about go­ing green? Can we trans­late lip ser­vice into real ac­tion?

In Ja­pan, for in­stance, be­fore pur­chas­ing an elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ance, the first ques­tion most Ja­panese ask is its “star” rat­ing, which gives an in­di­ca­tion of its en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. In Malaysia, price mat­ters more than any­thing else.

When buy­ing new mo­tor ve­hi­cles, very few Malaysians in­quire about the ve­hi­cle’s fuel ef­fi­ciency be­fore they de­cide on the car they want to pur­chase. In con­struc­tion, how many prop­erty devel­op­ers de­sign their build­ings to en­hance en­ergy ef­fi­ciency? Do they use im­proved and more ex­pen­sive in­su­la­tion and cool­ing sys­tems?

How many of us have in­stalled so­lar pho­to­voltaic pan­els on our rooftops to gen­er­ate green-friendly so­lar en­ergy? Th­ese are the sorts of green in­vest­ments that can help shift en­ergy sup­ply from fos­sil fu­els to lesspol­lut­ing al­ter­na­tives.

More and more of us are be­com­ing gen­uinely sin­cere in sup­port­ing green ef­forts but our ac­tions of­ten do not go far enough.

Take for in­stance the plant­ing of new trees. The mere plant­ing of new trees is point­less if the trees are left on their own af­ter the much-pub­li­cised tree plant­ing cer­e­mony is over. Many years ago, most of the new trees planted by an NGO in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, with much cor­po­rate and pub­lic sup­port, died a nat­u­ral death as there was no proper main­te­nance sys­tem in place. Only an in­signif­i­cant num­ber of trees sur­vived to ma­tu­rity.

But things are chang­ing for the bet­ter. One KL com­mu­nity-based NGO, Tran­si­tions TTDI (a sub­set of the Ta­man Tun Dr Is­mail Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion), is in­fus­ing into its res­i­dents the need to work to­gether to build a re­silient and sus­tain­able com­mu­nity in the neigh­bour­hood – a much sought af­ter area in KL. Two on-go­ing projects, “Sus­tain­able Transportation” (im­prov­ing walk­a­bil­ity and bike­abil­ity) and “Sus­tain­able En­ergy” (re­duc­ing en­ergy con­sump­tion and in­creas­ing the use of re­new­able en­ergy) are help­ing the com­mu­nity to tran­si­tion to­wards a cleaner and health­ier en­vi­ron­ment – which will, nat­u­rally, im­prove the qual­ity of the res­i­dents’ lives.

Hope­fully, the Gov­ern­ment will en­cour­age the for­ma­tion of such green-con­scious NGOs that in­volve the whole com­mu­nity.

In terms of go­ing green, isn’t it time we put our money where our mouth is and act ac­cord­ingly? The pub­lic has to as­sist the Gov­ern­ment in im­ple­ment­ing green ini­tia­tives.

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