Tuesday, 1 May 2007

May Day! May Day! They are endangered

It is Labour Day today in Malaysia. And also Wesak Day.

As we rest today to honour all the workers of the world I salute a special, and perhaps dying breed, of dedicated workers who keep our garden clean. The tools of their trade are all traditional and absolutely environmentally-friendly. They sweep with brooms made from the stiff spine of coconut leaves with a wooden handle, their rakes are made of strips of bamboo bent at the tip and spread out like a fan and their baskets are handwoven with strips of bamboo.

They need no electricity to operate nor any fossil fuel.

They are very quiet and bothers no one, especially classes in session.

How long will they be still around on campus? The noisy motorised grass-cutters are now everywhere, even on campus. It used to be the grass-cutters swung sickles attached to long handles in graceful circular motions - over their heads and then down to the ground in swift strokes to effortlessly slice the grass. Already the noisy motorised leave-blower have made it to Malaysia. You can't enjoy your doughnut in peace at the Sg Buloh rest area when one of these is around. It may not be long before these monsters make it into campus too if we don't reward (pay enough) these workers who are probably one of the lowest paid in the hierarchy.

To who ever is keeping this sustainable practice alive on campus, I take off my hat to you. Now let's figure out together what to do with the leaves and yardwaste which these gentlemen in grey gather.

And to the rest of us on campus - have a heart. Pick up your thrash (plastic bags, paper, styrofoam containers). I see them all mixed with the leaves. Throw the thrash where it belong - in the garbage bins (but why generating rubbish as you walk; or drive?). Otherwise your thrash will end up in the yardwaste. That's going to make it a little more difficult when we think about composting and mulching the leaves. Yes, that's what we hope to do in the near future.


gspoh said...

Dr. Lee,

I must take my hat off to you!! All the efforts you have put in to make the campus a better place to be. :) Here in our campus students also throw rubbish everywhere and the university only recently put up recycling bins at two sites, but no one seems to be really utilising them except for a few.

gspoh said...

Ferny (ex-USM) said the most "impressive" scene in USM that she loathed most were the black smoke spewing buses moving around the campus.

The said...

Lik Meng,
Indeed, you are right. Actions that are rewarded will be repeated. It's one of the very early discoveries in sociology and human sciences; yet too many of us have forgotten or ignore it. We reward and recognize 'big actions' and neglect the small little ones.

Reevany Bustami.

ShadyTreesPlz said...

Just a note to see if something can be done - Along the road towards Jln Bukit Gambier Gate, we have rows of coniferous trees that are growing too well. I notice students are obstructed when walking along the footpath due to the spreading trees. Now not only they do not have shades from the trees but their walking path is being taken over by trees. Ai...what is the purpose of those trees?