April 28, 2020

How to create less waste during the MCO!

 One thing that you might not know about me, I've been watching tons of zero waste videos and been obsessing about it since last year. But, I'm curious about how the community create less waste or even zero waste during the movement control order (MCO) period. I tried, but it seems impossible. 😔

But no worries because I reached out to Zero Waste Malaysia (ZWM) and they are accommodating to answer my six questions and give me a clear direction of what we can do to produce less waste. So, here we go!

zero waste curitan aqalili
From left: Photo by Anna Shvets and cottonbro from Pexels.

1. BYOC to buy your groceries

Question: People are relying on using plastic to buy groceries and have this mindset that it will be more hygienic. Is it possible for people to use less plastic and bring our container during the MCO? Especially when they are going to a big supermarket.

Answer: We at ZWM never wish to promote aggression towards supermarket or shop staff. Instead, we advocate education and explanation to said groups of people to reach a mutual understanding. We understand that some store policies may prohibit the use of our own containers when shopping, but we do advise people to at least try. There’s no harm in asking politely. Worst case scenario is that we have to lug to containers back home. If the store insists on using plastic bags, we do advise reusing the plastic bag as much as possible to minimise wastage. 

Whenever possible, we encourage people to visit the local market or reach out to local farmers to purchase food items. By doing so, we are not only supporting locals, but many farmers also do plastic-free delivery. Moreover, we also encourage eating locally as much as possible to reduce the carbon footprint from imported produce. 

2. Plastics what can we do with you?

Question: I notice that I use tons of plastic bottle during this MCO, mainly because I use soy milk for cereal. Are there any tips and tricks to reuse or recycling them during this MCO? 


Answer: Not all plastic is recyclable. In Malaysia, plastic categorised as one, two, and five is 99% recyclable. So before you recycle, do check if the bottles are recyclable in the first place! If it’s not recyclable, are you able to switch to eco-friendlier alternatives such as making your own plant-based milk? 

We encourage reusing first before recycling, as recycling is an energy-intensive process which requires lots of water, energy, and labour. Most importantly, we should all rethink and weigh the implications of our choices before deciding.
Click here to get free Zero Waste Event Handbook.  
zero waste curitan aqalili
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.

3. Food waste, no more!


 Question: We sometimes tend to over-buy raw ingredients, especially for those who are in a panic state. Are there any tips on how to embrace zero-waste cooking at home?

Don’t panic buy: We strongly discourage panic buying or hoarding as it can result in both a shortage and a wastage of food, where people who need it can’t get it, but those who hoard cannot finish it. 

Write a shopping list based on planned recipes that maximise whatever you have at home: Avoid wasting the food you already have, use those ingredients as much as possible before going out to buy anything else. 

Bring your own containers: Depending on where you shop, some will allow you to use your own container while others don’t for the sake of hygiene during the MCO. We suggest bringing a container anyway, just in case. If they insist on giving out plastic bags, you can always use them as much as possible for other household purposes.

Store your produce properly: By storing them correctly, we are able to preserve them longer. For instance, submerge carrots and cucumber in a cup of water and they will last for weeks. Consume leafy greens first as they tend to wilt faster than other bean types. Do not place onions with potatoes as the potatoes will sprout more quickly because of the presence of onions. Try pickling for vegetables that going to go wrong. Fermentation provides probiotics that keep our gut healthy. 

zero waste curitan aqalili
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.

4. Shop too much?

 Question: Since we spend a lot of time at home, people use this time to rearrange their furniture or maybe do some shopping to enhance the space. What can they do with the amount of courier plastic, bubble wrap and boxes during the transaction? 


Answer: At ZWM, we encourage consumers to make use with what they already own. Opting for the second-hand is always an environmentally friendlier option than buying new. More or less, second-hand can be delivered without much packaging compared to new stuff that is already heavily
packaged. If buying new furniture is necessary, we do encourage consumers to request for minimal packaging. So, do think twice before you buy. Do you need it? Or do you want it?

As we also promote the idea of a circular economy, we advise keeping the courier plastic, bubble wraps, and boxes in the loop for as long as possible. This means reusing it or gifting it to someone who would reuse it so it remains useful to as many people, and for as long as possible. 

So for the case of courier plastic, you can always reuse it as a laundry bag when travelling; bubble wraps and boxes can be gifted to small businesses who often will reuse it, or you can keep it for when you relocate. 

You can join our ZWM Facebook Group where we engage in discussions and ideas on what you can do with your waste. 

zero waste curitan aqalili
Think twice before you shop! Photo by Mister Mister from Pexels.

5. But you can still shop, zero waste style! 


 Question: Do you have a list of zero waste that still open during MCO? 


Answer: We don’t actively keep a list, but you can refer to our ZWM Map where we pin all the locations of stores that accept zero-waste methods of service. You can search for zero waste shops near you and refer to their social media for the latest operation hours. 


zero waste curitan aqalili
Photo by A Bit Less Bulk.

6. Keep on learning

Question: During this MCO period, what are your plans to keep on educating people regarding this movement?

Answer: All the while, our aim is to educate and promote the zero waste lifestyle to Malaysians. While we usually also participate in events and activities such as Nat Geo Earth Day Run, Sampah Menyampah and others. We have opted to continue our activities online during these trying times.

ZWM will still continue increasing the awareness of sustainable living on our online platforms, initiating conversations with our community on our Facebook group and social media.

Also, the volunteer team is working on the Zero Waste Malaysia Educational Lesson Plan which hopefully will be launched in mid of this year. The lesson plan is 5 sessions x 60 minutes’ module lesson plan designed and linked to the Malaysian secondary school curriculum (KSSM, either as classroom learning or as extra-curricular workshops as well as a virtual lesson) for children and teens aged between 11 -17 years old.

Do stay tuned on our social media for more updates.

zero waste curitan aqalili
Photo by Leonid Danilov from Pexels.
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