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A greener Raya

Strategies to minimise waste during the festive season

Hari Raya Aidilfitri is a time of joyous celebrations and cherished traditions, yet it also marks a rise in waste generation. Festive preparations frequently result in excess packaging, disposable items and open houses that lead to food wastage.

Given our first-hand experiences with climate change – recent months have witnessed our region and the world grappling with extreme heat and widespread haze – it is crucial that we approach this festive season with a commitment to responsibility and sustainability.

The Bulletin engaged with several local youth, each championing zero waste through uniquely different methods.

From tackling food to plastic waste, these young individuals are leveraging natural processes like decomposition to enhance our food systems, while others innovate by converting consumer plastic waste into more durable products.

Founder of Kilang ReRoot (KRR) Hajah Siti Norfarwizah binti Haji Mohd Ja’afar, a local NGO focusing on food waste, emphasised the urgent need to reduce food waste and loss to create sustainable food systems that ensure food abundance and accessibility for all.

KRR, she explained, is dedicated to championing zero food waste by actively working to reduce food waste and spoilage. They do this through promoting intelligent consumption, production, and manufacturing processes that prioritise waste recovery.

Photos show volunteers during a cleaning campaign at Kampong Ayer. PHOTOS: GREEN BRUNEI

Siti highlighted that the organisation’s mission is to empower consumers in the fight against waste through the adoption of the 5Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot. This approach emphasises a holistic strategy that includes composting and the creation of small urban gardens.

She shared that these practices not only have economic benefits but also the potential to address food insecurity and promote environmental sustainability.

“Zero food waste is also about conserving resources to prevent the irresponsible consumption that endangers our planet and human health,” she added.

Meanwhile for founder of Tebalik Plastik Syahmi Zulfadhli, a start-up plastic recycling studio, they are dedicated to addressing the urgent global crisis of plastic waste.

“Our mission is to provide a high-quality recycling system that empowers communities to recycle plastic locally and transform post-consumer waste into durable and valuable products.

“We are starting with small-scale recycling of type 2 and 5 plastic.”          

For Syahmi, zero waste means more than just recycling; it’s a lifestyle approach. He shared that products should be designed for durability and reusability from the outset. However, recognising the current reality, he emphasised the importance of repurposing.

“In a modern context, repurposing plays a key role. We can transform used plastics and fabrics into new items, reducing our reliance on virgin materials and diverting waste from landfills.”

The youth advocate noted that although the Sultanate has made progress towards sustainable production and consumption practices, Brunei still grapples with challenges common in many developing nations, such as improper waste management, littering and insufficient recycling facilities.

Furthermore, he added that there is a need for greater public awareness and participation in waste reduction initiatives. “More comprehensive strategies are needed to address broader issues such as sustainable resource management, green energy adoption and promoting eco-friendly practices across various sectors.

“At this point we are past education and awareness – it is time to implement,” he continued.

Echoing the sentiment regarding the inevitability of repurposing and reusing plastic, founder of Green Brunei Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari acknowledged that completely eliminating plastic packaging and waste remains challenging. However we can still minimise our use of plastic where possible.

Green Brunei has been active in awareness initiatives, including conducting field trips to the Sungai Paku Landfill and organising clean-up events to engage the community. PHOTO: GREEN BRUNEI

“Realistically, we still need people to spend money to keep the economy going.

“Where possible, try to purchase products that can be recycled after use. For example, get an aluminium canned drink versus a bottled drink.”

Green Brunei, she shared, has been active in awareness initiatives, including conducting field trips to the Sungai Paku Landfill and organising clean-up events to engage the community.

“Sometimes we read the statistics but don’t think much of it, but when you see literal mountains of trash, that’s when it really hits you. People tend to ignore the problem when it’s ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

“So getting them involved in the clean-up process, to see the scale of the problem, and how much resources are needed to fix it can help to open up people’s eyes and hopefully change their behaviour.”

Khairunnisa commented on the recycling system and infrastructure in the Sultanate, highlighting the need for significant improvement, particularly due to the limited recycling facilities in the country. “We also need to address the many types of waste, with food waste being one of the highest produced. That should be something for the nation to reflect upon.” Ultimately, these green advocates believed that the journey towards sustainability was diverse, with each individual playing a crucial role.

Siti emphasised the importance of becoming a wiser consumer and avoiding excess, especially in food consumption. Syahmi, on the other hand, promoted a lifestyle of minimalism, focusing on purchasing fewer items and choosing durable, reusable products.

Meanwhile, Khairunnisa saw our nation’s growing embrace of improved waste management as a significant achievement “Social media played a huge role in spreading awareness, so it was encouraging to see people responding well to calls for better waste management.”

As we welcome Hari Raya Aidilfitri this year, let us reflect on the lessons from these youth and celebrate the season with thoughtfulness and purpose. Let us strive to maintain sustainability for a brighter, greener future for Brunei. – WARDI WASIL

 

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