10 Simple Things That We Can Do for A Greener Lifestyle in UPM (or in any part of the world)

Hey guys! I have decided to write about something green today. It’s not difficult to live a more sustainable life as long as we get used to it and blend it into our daily life. You will feel normal afterward although you might feel awkward at the beginning asking someone to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth (of course in a polite manner, use the magic word ‘please’). I am sure that we are familiar with the famous 3R right? Personally I support the concept of ‘reduce’ more than ‘reuse’ and ‘recycle’. ‘Reduce’ is the direct way to cut down carbon dioxide emission or any form resources wastage. Here are something you can do in university.

1. Start walking

Student life is packed with all sorts of assignments and tests. Most of the time we barely get sufficient sleep, not to mention exercising. This is what I do: Walk back to college after class at around 4-5pm every day. Maybe you will feel tired after class and all you want to do is to get back to dorm as soon as possible, but it worths the time and energy to walk! You don’t have to allocate another time for exercising. However if your class ends after 7pm, it’s better for you to take the bus. The surroundings can be quite spooky in dark. I did walk back to college at night with friends before, but still, better don’t. Get yourself a pair of comfortable sport shoes can act as the motivation for you to start walking. No one is willing to walk much if the shoes bite, right?

2. Get yourself a bicycle

Travelling around the university can be frustrating and stressful sometimes as you have to wait for the bus which might be late and the passengers might be packed like sardines within the rectangular compartment. It’s time and energy consuming! Since there are bicycle lanes nicely constructed in the university, why don’t you get yourself a bike? As UPM students we can even get RM300 rebate, thanks to the Green Campus Programme! The scorching sun of Malaysia and the heavy rain might be scary, but don’t let them to stop you from going green! It feels good to let the breeze brushing your skin as you cycle, watching others waiting impatiently at the bus stop (counting the probability to board the bus), haha. It is cheaper and easier to take care a bicycle than a motorcycle or car.

3. Bring your own spoon and fork

Some food courts do not provide steel spoon and fork, instead, plastics ones are being used. I really wonder why as it would be costly to discard hundreds of eating utensils each day. Try to imagine the number of students visiting the food court for three times a day, about five days a week. Assume that there are 300 students who regularly visiting the food court. [ 300 x 3 x 5 x 4 = 18 000 ] 18 000 sets of plastics utensils are disposed every month! And it is impossible that there are only 300 studnets in the university (there are 3 291 first year students in UPM this year)! Carrying a set of spoon and fork is a good idea to overcome this problem (if the renders still refuse to take action after complaints are made). You can even ensure the hygiene of the utensils you use besides not having to worry that you might break the spoon. Moreover detergents are provided at the sink! You can straight away wash your spoon and fork after each meal! If you still feel that bringing your own utensils is somehow troublesome, enjoy your meal with hands will give you the same result *wink*.

4. Don’t be lazy

Honestly, laziness is the largest obstacle that we face when we want to go green as it can be inconvenient to do so. We might have to spend extra time and energy to walk instead of driving; we might have to sort the rubbish into recycling bins which might be located a bit further away compared to other regular dust bins; we might have to carry our own lunch box (which takes up some space in our backpack) instead of just going to the cafe empty-handed to pack our meal etc. As human we often succumb to laziness, but, think the other way round. Think about what we can do to little by little each day. Persevere and you will eventually make it a habit to go green. You will feel that it is effortless. It could even be strange if you don’t do so. Trust me, you just need some time to adapt the greener lifestyle.

5. Avoid take-away 

People used to think that eating alone in the food court is awkward (I do feel that way too but I insist in dining in because I’m lazy to do the clean up in my room, haha. But I believe that I will get used to that feeling) so taking away food has become a trend of many university students. You can see stacks of plastic food containers (or even worse, polystyrene) being provided unlimitedly in the food court. This situation is somehow similar to the plastic-spoon-and-fork problem, but it is slightly better as I can see students bringing their own food container (we can get RM0.20 rebate each time we bring our own container for taking away in university). But this does not apply to the situation outside the university! Polystyrene containers are still being brought into the university despite the ban of polystyrene containers. You might say that we can use biodegradable containers to carry our food, but at the end, the container will still end up in the rubbish bin, contributing as part of the rubbish. Thus, back to the main point, reduce unnecessary wastage of take-away container in general.\

6. Take as much as you can eat

Food wastage is always one of the major problems in Malaysia especially during festival celebrations. Maybe we should just focus on our daily eating habit first. The food we order might come in a large portion and it’s not our intention to waste the food sometimes. We can ask the food vendors to half the amount of the food or tell them what you do not want in your food (for picky eaters like me). For chain restaurants where it is quite difficult to voice such request (as you will not see the cook and the waiter will happily reject your request), you can share meals with your friends or family. Sharing is caring after all. I have a habit of finishing everything on my plate that you can barely see a rice on it. Everyone in my family does that. It became a tradition to eat everything in our plate. So there is no wastage and it’s easier to do the dish. Eating a smaller portion meal can ensure that you finish all the food and it is good for your health, too.

7. Turn off the light which is not in use

The sun has risen and shone! This indicates that it’s time to turn off the light as you won’t need it anymore unless your dorm or classroom is really dark (a sustainable building should let natural light to lit up the inner spaces, but well, we can’t change that). Make it a habit to check whether the light is still on or not in broad day light even if it is not your room. The corridors belong to everyone! With just a flip, you can save a lot of energy. When it is bright, we can hardly notice that the fluorescent light is still on. But I have the strange habit of checking the light wherever I go, haha. If I found that the light is still brightly lit during the day, the most frustrated thing is that I couldn’t find the switch. It is not that difficult to save energy. Just a flip to switch it off and it can save a lot.

8. Use water wisely

We are indeed very lucky to have convenient and clean water supply which is within reach. This makes us forget how precious water is for life. Turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth or applying shampoo on your hair. Use a bucket to wash your clothes instead of washing them under running water. Make sure that the tap is tightly turned off so that there is no dripping of water (here is another case: when the water at the toilet won’t stop flowing, check the button whether it has popped back up after being pushed, sometimes it’s just this tiny problem that causes this ‘false’ leakage which can be fixed immediately). Everyone knows how precious water is but most of us have got used to the wasteful way of using water. Just bear in mind that, every drop counts.

9. Report any cases of unsustainable happenings

The ‘unsustainable happenings’ here mean incidences that lead to pollutions or wastage of resources such as pipe leakage and open burning. What you have to do is to reach for your phone and inform the authority in charged as soon as possible. Don’t wait! The longer you procrastinate the bigger the problem becomes. Just do it without hesitation. You might think that ‘maybe someone else will call’ but you are actually the one! The more people who show concerns towards the incident, the more stress is given to the authority to take action to make the situation better. So, take action before you hesitate. It takes a little bit of time for you to feel the hesitation in your heart (this is true! Try it!). Another problem is, who to contact. In UPM, you can call the BHEP (students’ affair division) during office hour 03-89466064 and tell them about the case. Do keep the case updated to see whether the problem has been solved. You might sound like a busybody but hey, it’s better than those who act like they see nothing or simply give a face ‘oww that’s awful’ and walk away. 

10. Be brave and determined to say NO

”I take it because they give it to me! (for free somemore)” This sentence is a quite general answer to the question ”why do you use plastic bags?”. Of course it is not just about plastic bags. It’s about everything that is not useful or unnecessary to you such as brochures that you won’t even flip through (it happens when there is an exhibition and people are like brochure-collectors), advertisement (just kindly say no if you are not interested, laminated papers are not recyclable), packets of ketchup at fast food restaurant (return them if you are not going to eat them) and so on. It is not something usual to do, but after practising this for some time you will realise how much space in the rubbish bin you have saved.

P/S: Peer pressure might be an obstacle that pull you back from doing your part in going green as your friends might think that you are silly or wasting your time and energy. But hey, why don’t you make yourself a peer pressure so that they do it with you? The more the merrier! Gang up and we will have more fun doing these!

(this article is taken from my personal blog.)

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