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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Simple basics to sustainability

It is true that words like “going green” and “sustainable” carry much weight these days and many times they have been exploited by various quarters as tools for some personal agenda or to promote product sales.

Marketers from various “walks” of industries have benefited substantially from the green and sustainable pitches, and no wonder we have been bombarded with these words everywhere we go.

To be green or sustainable compliant does not just mean that some special methods or ingredients are used in the making of a product. It goes deeper than that.

I personally believe that it actually applies to every facets of our believe system, as well as the way we live and do things.

Simply put, it means the human race must re-learn to survive as minimalist and accept that the most basic way of life one without exploiting Mother Nature is the most natural, green and sustainable way.

The ongoing climatic and environmental changes are hot topics these days, not because it is trendy but because people are being affected one way or another. Most of us must have noticed that the once benign morning sun is scotching hot even way before the clock strikes noon and thunderstorms are happening more regularly and are louder.

While some parts of the world are facing severe drought, flooding has become a regular occurrence in some countries.

Cyclones, hurricanes and earthquakes are also striking more regularly causing lost of lives and major damages to property.

Doing our bit to arrest further decadence in our environment should be made everyone's duty and not merely a lip service. Among the top priorities in the list of “to dos” include cutting back on the usage of electricity, water, paper and food consumption.

As weather conditions deteriorate further and temperature rises, these items will become rare commodities, and it pays to preserve them by minimising their usage.

Although we have to pay tribute to inventors like Thomas Edison for inventing the light bulb which revolutionise the way people live, we should not succumb to the mental siege of “can't do without electricity or electronic devices”.

Instead of clamouring for the bright lights, we should instead promote the habit of seeking out more “light out” opportunities with just the stars in the sky for company.

Many of us who are from the “Baby Boomers” generation, should remember our school camping trips and those treasured moments of sleeping out under the glittering stars a rare opportunity worth savouring by all ages.

Reminiscing those simple luxuries reminds me of an article which I have read in the National Geographic that stressed on the side effects of over-exposure to too much bright lights in buildings and “dazzling, almost blinding” electronic screens and billboards.

It has been found that these light can be detrimental to our health and affect the concentration of road users, including pedestrians and drivers.

Those who live near brightly-lit buildings have been found to be sleep deprived and affected by sleep disorders. So, don't be too distraught if there is suddenly a blackout in your neighbourhood as it could be a blessing in disguise to catch up with one's sleep.

Of course, the way our houses and work places are designed and built will be a major factor when it comes to rating how environment friendly and sustainable they will be. To qualify as green and sustainable, buildings should be able to function no matter what.

Why do we need to depend on air conditioning to cool the building whereas natural ventilation, big open windows and double volume ceilings should be able to do the trick?

As for lowering the water bill, remember those times when our elders collected rain water in buckets during heavy downpours to be used for watering plants later? Likewise, water used to wash rice grains is believed to be natural fertilisers and was collected for plant watering.

If more “out of the box” designs and features are drawn up for our property schemes, they should fare better in the green and environment index.

Another sustainable issue I believe is the one concerning the over dependence on maids by Malaysian families these days.

The “can't do without a maid” syndrome will turn out to be unsustainable in the near future. This is already happening with maids from some countries as demand outstrips supply, leading to higher agency fees and wages.

The sustainable solution will be to draw up a duty roster and get every member of the family to put in their fair share for the upkeep of the household.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng's food for thought to promote sustainable and functioning families avoid favouritism and promote more spontaneous two-way interaction and communication between parents and children.

By The Star

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