Wednesday, 27 June 2007

We need to go the extra mile

I think his first reaction was, "what is this guy doing sticking his camera in my face"? Then he did what little kids do in the face of "crisis" - he turned around and asked his dad for validation. Dad said "it's OK, he's harmless". So, he put on a show for me. Don't you just love the innocence and carefreeness kids have?

I went to the USM Main Campus' Hari Warga this morning. Loosely translated it means USM Family Day. Lots of activities and prizes. Many, if not most, of the activities involve physical movement including a campus run and "senamrobik" which is the local version of aerobics. Everyone seems to have lots of fun in these very healthy programmes. Of course, some people like to do it their way.

Obviously, a lot of energy, money and organisational skill is involved to pull off such events, which incidentally are also held at the other two campuses. I take my hat off to the organisers.

But here's the beef. And this is not limited to this event. It's because we haven't pushed hard enough to go the extra mile. Take a look at the picture below. What do you see?

No amount of effort to encourage recycling is going to do us any good if we don't start at the source of the rubbish. We have got to stop generating waste.

We need to stop using styrofoam not only because it takes forever to disintegrate at the landfills but also because of the health risks associated with Styrofoam (which is a brandname) or more generally polystyrene. The risk is that styrene could migrate from the cup or container (whether hot or cold) to our body when we drink or eat the food served in these containers. And the risk? This is what I got from one of the websites - "Studies suggest that styrene mimics estrogen in the body and can therefore disrupt normal hormone functions, possibly contributing to thyroid problems, menstrual irregularities, and other hormone-related problems, as well as breast cancer and prostate cancer".

One last beef. Look at the picture below. Rows and rows of cars. I am sure we can do something about this.

Here's what I think we can do. We should involve staff and students to carry out an audit of every event (major or minor) and evaluate their efforts to adopt and implement sustainable practices (use of materials, efforts to reduce waste, car-free, healthy food, local products, etc). We will recognise them and give them bragging rights perhaps at an Annual Environmental Champions Day. Volunteers?

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