Ask yourself this: What have you done to save the environment?
Albeit big or small the action is, you are still contributing to the effort, but if you’re looking for a place to start, look no further.
At the Ocean Hero Conservation Run, taking place tomorrow (March 2), you not only get to learn about the damaging effects of plastic pollution on our ocean and helpful ways to protect our environment.
You also get to make a donation via your tickets to the environment-saving beneficiaries including Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia, MareCet, Tak Nak Straw and Sampah, Menyampah!
Themed ‘Plastic-Free Ocean’ and organised Blossomly Global, the 5km charity run (you can walk too!) to be held at at Sunsuria City Celebration Centre is also in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The organising team had received a lot of response with a previous project involving shark protection, especially from the younger generation that understands the need of nature conservation.
“Now we know the ocean is severely polluted due to human activities, so we decided to expand the reach. We hope we can make all make a transformation through our efforts,” says Blossomly Global co-founder Shirene Moong to Hijab & Heels.
So come join in the fun starting early in the morning tomorrow!
It’s okay if you don’t get to take part in the run, which also aims to encourage responsible and sustainable lifestyle and habit among the society. Lots more activities await at the venue, such as a fun obstacle challenge.
Whatever it is, the theme will be conservation that correlates with both land and water. There are lots to learn! Don’t miss out on the fun, okay?
Here’s a message from the organiser: Bring your own bottle and food container – use the least amount of plastics. Remember to conserve!
Sign yourself up or find out more here.
Safeguard the ocean, safeguard your health
Unfortunately, the pollution that mars our ocean is mostly caused by single-used plastics that we get as part of our purchases.
“If we stop asking for plastics and instead demand for something more environmental-friendly, like what we’re doing now for plastic straws, vendors will have no choice but to switch,” says Blossomly Global co-founder Ooi Kok Tong.
He adds, “When you go diving, you’ll see more bottles than fish.” Sadly true! The view is not only an eyesore but it’s harmful to your health as well.
“When plastics dissolve, they will disintegrate into micro-plastics. If fish feed on them, the marine life will be damaged. And when humans consume fish, unknowingly they will consume the plastics as well.
“Undoubtedly it will affect the health of our next generation too if we don’t do something about it,” Ooi warns.
Blossomly Global is also looking into saving endangered species like turtles, dugong and dolphins.
“Malaysia is also known for its turtles. Since 2020 is a Visit Malaysia year, we have come up with more awareness and conservation campaigns that promote eco-tourism,” saysMoong.
Start from ground zero
The patron of the charity run, Tengku Datuk Hishammuddin Zaizi Tengku Azman Shah Alhaj, supports the team’s mission wholeheartedly.
He is aware of the importance of protecting the environment through his own current project of building a chalet at Pulau Perhentian Kecil.
He also believes that Malaysians need more exposure on the issue. “In Western countries, people have been taught since young to take action and save the environment.
“As for Malaysians, the academics are prioritised more in life, but it’s okay. Perhaps our respective upbringing is different.
“Since that is the case, now it’s up to NGOs to raise awareness, starting with among school children,” says Hishammuddin.
The Blossomly Global team is aware that its effort can’t turn things around overnight, but they need to start from somewhere.
The main event may be the Charity Run, but Ooi says the term “run” also refers to the team’s plan to “execute”.
“In the future, we hope to organise mini campaigns involving the general public where we further inculcate the needs of conservation.”
So far they have set up workshops with schools, colleges and universities, where students learned more about how they could contribute to this effort.
“A part of the activities was making your own paper straws, which correlates with the ‘Plastic-Free Ocean’ theme,” says Moong.
Ooi adds, “You just have to use old magazines or books. The wax is safe and the papers will biodegrade – nothing will be left behind. You can even do it in front of the TV!”
Another fun endeavour involves creating bin liners using newspaper, origami-style. Brilliant, right?
These and more save-the-environment DIY techniques will be demonstrated at the Ocean Hero Conservation Run, so make sure you check it out!
Besides the lack of interest or effort, a challenge in conservation comes in the form of commercial products where manufacturers utilise plastics for the sake of convenience.
“For instance, in the old days Coca-Cola used to be sold in glass bottles (which can be recycled),” says Moong
Ooi says the Orang Asli community may have straws made of bamboo, while Shirene adds that currently there are also edible straws made of pasta or wheat!
“If we stop demanding for plastic things that can instead be produced using an alternative source, they may have no choice but to stop producing plastic. Then only we can make a change,” says Moong.
You may notice that while certain F&B outlets in Malaysia have started distributing paper straws, most don’t offer straws at all.
“Maybe they do it under the pretence of wanting to conserve, when in reality it’s also to minimise their production cost,” says Hishammuddin. Who knows, right?
“I think with Malaysians, as long as the government hasn’t made it compulsory for all establishments to give out paper straws, they won’t start.”
Most Malaysians prefer quick return of investment instead of looking at things in long-term, he adds.
“Still, we can’t blame anyone. If the standard of living is higher, the way people think could be different.”
And paper straws may be expensive now, but Hishammuddin says hopefully when there is a higher demand, it won’t be too bad.
Take your stand
Undeniably, Ooi notes that this adjustment might be difficult to execute. “For instance, manufacturers may have to spend more on non-conventional materials.
“As for consumers, we may be aware of the dangers of plastic straws. But when we eat out, we tend to forget. We order our drinks like normal and before we realise it, there’s already a straw in our glass.”
Hmm… can you relate? If yes, it’s okay. Take baby steps.
“Naturally people would need time to adapt. Perhaps in 10 years’ time we will see a transformation if everyone joins hands,” said Moong.
So what you can do is to try to remember every time you buy something. Carry eco-bags with you for shopping. Bring along containers when you “tapau” food. Request for paper straws, or bring your metal straws instead.
And most importantly, don’t litter. Be a hero to your environment.