KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — The smell of delicious treats being cooked up at Ramadan bazaars is enough to make any foodie empty their pockets in a blink of an eye.
This often results in overbuying, leading to the rising amounts of food and plastic waste generated by the bazaars each year.
Environmentalist Nurul Amalina Che Ariffin has been working with non-profit organisation Zero Waste Malaysia to show how an eco-friendly lifestyle isn’t just about combating single-use plastic and food waste.
It’s also about saving precious cash.
“When we talk about zero waste, people usually think of only the physical, plastic waste that we generate, but we should also consider other types of waste,” she told Malay Mail.
“For example, our food waste and our waste of time and money.”
Rummage through Amalina’s shopping basket and you’ll find an assortment of containers, bags and metal straws, many of which she bought for cheap on online websites.
The Kuala Lumpur-born lass is a strong advocate of planning ahead and bringing reusables to the bazaar, a move that has helped her to save money as the number of containers she brings automatically limits the amount of food she can buy.
Some Ramadan bazaar traders are also happy to give a small discount to customers who bring their own containers and bottles when shopping.
Amalina has her sights set on making the zero waste lifestyle more accessible to Malaysians by letting them know that the tools for reducing plastic waste may already be in their pantry.
“I strongly believe that practising a zero waste lifestyle shouldn’t mean having to waste money on new and shiny containers.
“If you already have plastic containers in your kitchen, use them.”
“I want to show people that this lifestyle isn’t just for Westerners or the elites but it’s also for the average Malaysian who eats local food.
“We just need to find the right ways that suit us the best.”
She added that while many find the idea of bringing their own reusables troublesome, the trick is to find a method that works best according to each person’s likes and dislikes.
“I understand where these complaints are coming from because I used to be in their position.
“What I can tell them is that if they really care, anyone can start small and before you know it, you’ll look back and see that you’re so far ahead with reducing your waste.”
Not wanting to jeopardise her love of small handbags, Amalina found collapsible containers and foldable straws and cutlery that could fit easily inside her stylish totes.
Getting to this point has been a gradual journey for the Zero Waste Malaysia volunteer who now spends time educating others on ways to ease Mother Nature’s burden.
She said that if every Malaysian started taking baby steps to reduce their waste, the collective effort alone would have a huge positive impact on the environment.
“I’ve always been passionate about the environment but I never knew that I was going to practise the zero waste lifestyle,” she added.
“My biggest goal personally is to make going green as sexy as possible. We don’t need a handful of people doing the zero waste lifestyle perfectly, but we need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
To find out more about Zero Waste Malaysia’s activities, visit their Facebook page.