The Importance of Making Sustainable Parenting Choices

WORDS MICHELLE TEH

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MICHELLE TEH
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Earth & Me
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Malaysia’s landfills are filling to capacity, putting the country in danger of running out of space for the disposal of solid waste by 2050.

In fact, about 38,000 metric tonnes of solid waste on average are sent to more than 100 landfills in Malaysia daily. In Kuala Lumpur alone, there are about 2,500 metric tonnes of solid waste produced daily, which could pile up to the height of the Petronas Twin Towers in only one week!

This amount of waste is set to continue increasing in tandem with population growth.

BABIES CAN BE BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

Most babies using up at least 7,000 diapers in the first two and a half years alone.

How does this affect parenting, and how do we navigate trying to steer away from this for both the current and future generations?

USE SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS

In the realm of parenting, particularly with baby products, there’s a notable trend towards single-use or disposable items.

These products, though convenient, often contribute significantly to environmental degradation.

Take traditional diapers, for instance, which are predominantly composed of plastic materials. The sheer volume of disposable diapers being discarded annually staggering, with a global average of 300,000 disposable nappies sent to landfill or incinerated every minute. Their decomposition process can take hundreds of years, exacerbating landfill overflow and pollution issues.

To address this environmental concern, it’s crucial for parents to consider alternative options that are not only safe and nontoxic for their little ones but also eco-friendly.

Making a conscious switch to products that are multifunctional, reusable, biodegradable, or a combination of these attributes can significantly reduce waste generation.

By conducting a bit of research and exploring sustainable alternatives, parents can play a pivotal role in minimizing their family’s ecological footprint and fostering a greener future for their children.

CREATE SUSTAINABLE MOMENTS

Celebrating your child’s milestones is a joy, but it’s crucial to consider the environmental impact. Many traditional practices contribute to waste and pollution, but there are eco-friendly alternatives.

For example, zero-waste celebrations are gaining popularity, with parents opting for reusable decorations and tableware instead of disposable items.

Second-hand gifts and hand-me-down outfits are also becoming more common, reducing waste and adding sentimental value to celebrations.

Another idea could be simply borrowing resources from friends or participating in swaps, which would minimize waste while creating memorable experiences for children.

Through making these mindful choices, parents can still mark special occasions, just in a more sustainable way.

IMPART SUSTAINABLE LESSONS

As your child grows up, instilling eco-conscious habits also becomes increasingly important.

You can encourage them to take part in activities that promote environmental awareness, such as sorting trash into different categories like plastic, paper, and kitchen waste.

Potentially, these lessons can be turned into a game or a fun family activity, perhaps by organizing a beach clean-up day where you collect and dispose of rubbish together.

In addition, introduce your child to the concept of the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. This lays the groundwork for a sustainable mindset. Teach them the importance of reducing consumption, reusing items whenever possible, and recycling materials to give them a second life.

Once these principles are a part of everyday life, you have essentially empowered your child to become a responsible steward of the environment.

CREATE A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN

Granted, the journey towards sustainable parenting presents its challenges, but every small step taken today contributes to a brighter future. We must continue to make conscientious choices in our daily lives, such as reducing waste, conserving resources, and prioritizing environmentally friendly products, so that together, our collective actions can lead to a healthier planet and a better quality of life for all.

Students from the UTAR Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FAS) Brings the Love Canteen to Ipoh and Kampar

WORDS LIM TECK CHOON

Food insufficiency, also known as food scarcity and food insecurity, describes a lack of adequate food and nutrition to meet dietary needs.

It’s a global crisis affecting millions, with adverse impacts on health, productivity, and human potential.

According to a paper published in 2021, the prevalence of household food insecurity in Malaysia was “unexpectedly high”. Chief affected demographics are the Orang Asli, low-income household or welfare-recipient households, university students, and the elderly.

UTAR STUDENTS PLAY THEIR PART IN HELPING OUT PEOPLE EXPERIENCING FOOD INSUFFICIENCY

To raise awareness about food insufficiency in underprivileged communities, 16 students from the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FAS) brought the Love Canteen campaign in Ipoh and Kampar.

These are final-year Bachelor of Communication (Honours) Public Relations students that have previously successfully conducted two food distribution activities under the Love Canteen campaign.



DESTINATION: IPOH

In late February, the team effectively distributed 1,000 food packs throughout the city of Ipoh to individuals in need, including the elderly and those facing financial hardships. This was made possible with close collaboration with Pertubuhan Amal Ai Xin Fan Tong.

The volunteers were divided into two teams that, between them, diligently worked to prepare a large quantity of ingredients while ensuring that the nutritional values in these food packs were able to help meet the recipient’s recommended nutritional intake.

According to student volunteer Tay Yong Qi, “This programme taught me that some people can’t access food easily. It made me realize how important it is to appreciate the food we have.”

Kuan Chu Yie, the treasurer of the Love Canteen campaign, added: “It was heart-wrenching to see elderly people living alone, especially in homes falling apart.”

Pertubuhan Amal Ai Xin Fan Tong Coordinator Assistant Adele Siew Li Me praised the effort. “The onset of a substantial number of individuals facing financial distress due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) has prompted us to extend our support during this challenging period,” she says.

She elaborates further: “Consequently, Pertubuhan Amal Ai Xin Fan Tong initiated a comprehensive aid programme, which encompasses not only distributing freshly prepared meals but also delivering essential goods and vegetables to low-income communities. This effort aims to alleviate their financial strain and uphold the mission of ensuring ‘A full stomach for all’.”

DESTINATION: KAMPAR

During early March, the Love Canteen campaign headed over to Kampar, where approximately 100 elderly individuals were able to enjoy meals provided by Pertubuhan Amal Ai Xin Fan Tong.

Following this, the group devoted the remaining half of the day to distributing food to various other charity organizations, including Beautiful Gate for the Disabled Foundation, I Care Center, Pusat Jagaan Kasih Sayang Kampar and Rumah Orang Tua Gopeng.

A PROGRAMME TO RAISE AWARENESS ON FOOD SCARCITY

Leong Kah Ding, Secretary II of the Love Canteen campaign, expressed his belief that the Love Canteen volunteering programme and the upcoming on-campus exhibition would help raise awareness among university students and the public regarding the importance of achieving food sufficiency.

To achieve this aim, the Love Canteen project also hosted an exhibition on 26 and 27 March 2024 to showcase their journey and knowledge, with the aim of educating the public on achieving food sufficiency. The exhibition was held in the foyer of Dewan Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, Kampar.

To find out more about Love Canteen, please visit www.linktr.ee/lovecanteenutar (link opens in a new tab).

Reference: Sulaiman, N., Yeatman, H., Russell, J., & Law, L. S. (2021). A food insecurity systematic review: Experience from Malaysia. Nutrients, 13(3), 945. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13030945