Natural historian and legendary broadcaster David Attenborough recently launched a documentary on Netflix called Our Planet, which is such a spectacle that the trailer alone gives us the chills. We can almost hear the dolphins singing, “So long and thanks for all the fish.”
But while David Attenborough is trying his best to encourage mankind to be nice to our fellow plants and animals, some others just don’t share the same enthusiasm. “Since the man landed on the moon, it only took humans 50 years to put the planet in jeopardy.”
In other words, global warming started long ago, and the first to suffer are the wildlife.
So, in conjunction with Earth Day today, we take a look at Malaysian non-governmental organisations that are doing their best to save our planet from wild destruction and how you can do your bid to save our planet.
While most of our knowledge about sea life comes from Spongebob Squarepants (which is a great start by the way), few are aware about the threats to coral reefs. Did you know touching corals to see what they feel like can cause the death of an entire colony? Oils from your skin can disturb the delicate mucous membranes, which protect the animals from disease. Activities such as casting dragnets for fishing, boat anchors and dredging can also destroy the wonderful ecosystem. That’s where Reef Check comes in.
This NGO was established in the US in 1996 to raise awareness on the importance of, and threats to, coral reefs. The local chapter, Reef Check Malaysia was launched in 2007 to engage with the local community as well as to protect, restore and revive coral reefs in Malaysia. It partners with a global network of trained and certified EcoDiver volunteers to assess the health of reefs around the islands of Malaysia. In addition, it also conducts education and awareness programmes like coastal clean-ups, along with coral reef rehabilitation programmes. For divers who want to join in some reef and wildlife saving missions underwater, this is where you sign up.
Plants are the next best thing for single people who are so afraid of commitment that they don’t even dare to keep pets. And that’s what Free Tree Society is for.
Founded in 2012, the idea of this NGO is simple – making Kuala Lumpur greener by giving seeds away to people so they start planting, nurturing and naturally spreading awareness about the importance of preserving the environment. Other than being blessed with a long life, trees don’t just provide oxygen, they also help improve air quality, cooling the surroundings, keeping the soil fertile and supporting wildlife. This NGO features packed activities around the city. Visit its Facebook page for updates.
Established in 1984, Ensearch is one of the largest and oldest environmental NGOs in Malaysia. It has a vast network of professionals, students and people with an interest in learning and promoting effective ways to manage the impacts of human activities on the environment.
Running with the motto ‘For a Better Environment’, it shares findings with government policymakers, academics, industry representatives and other NGO leaders. Ensearch provides general and industry-specific programmes like waste minimisation, energy conservation and social impact assessments.
One of many cool programmes in promoting innovation on responsible environmental management include the use of drones to monitor illegal dumping, discharge, land clearing and other forms of environmental degradation. The environmental approaches include coastal management, rover and flood assessments, animal and plant conservation and regulation enforcement, to name a few. So, any eco warrior or industry players who want to learn more about saving the environment on a bigger scale, this is the place to be.
Having been around since 1995, this NGO has quite a number of accomplishments under its belt. Other than actively promoting environmentally sustainable lifestyles, TrEES worked with the Selangor government to open the third largest park in Peninsular Malaysia, the Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor in January 2007.
Covering 108,000 hectares, the park runs from Hulu Bernam at the northern tip of Selangor, down through Ulu Gombak and into Hulu Langat. It protects some of Selangor’s most vital natural resources and is the origin of the rivers in Selangor that provide over 90 per cent of the water supply to Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
TrEES partners with groups and communities to develop programmes that empower people to become actively involved in conserving the environment. Keep updated on the fun-filled programmes by visiting their Facebook page.
Opening its doors in 1998, this NGO tackles environmental issues of global importance through partnerships with communities and other organisations. In the past 20 years, it has planted more than 550,000 mangrove and peat swamp forest trees with the help of more than 50,000 volunteers, developed various environmental educational programmes involving rivers, forest and coastal rehabilitation, peatland conservation and community empowerment. Get involved in their rehabilitation activities by checking their website or Facebook page.
Now, here are a few tips or simple ways to adapt in your daily routine to help the environment
How to save water?
- Reuse water from the washing machine by collecting it in a bucket and using it to wash toilet floors and to flush toilets
- Water used to wash rice and vegetables can be reused to water plants
- Use a pail of water instead of the shower for a bath…kampung style!
How to minimise energy/power/electricity?
- Place your desk and other work areas near windows to maximise on natural ventilation and light
- Use energy-efficient light bulbs instead of regular fluorescent tubes.
- Use public transportation, cycle or walk to your destination. The fewer cars and bikes on the road, the better it is for the environment
- Get the family to work together in one room, you get to keep the bills low while bringing up childhood trauma (i.e., why weren’t you the favourite)
How to manage waste?
- Take reusable bags to the store when shopping
- Stop asking for single-use plastics even when it only costs 20 cents each
- Donate unwanted, used clothing, furniture and other household items. You can drop off the clothes to either donation bins if they’re available at your neighbourhood, or send them over to welfare NGOs like Kechara
- Separate trash, especially plastic because poor management by operators means most of them end up drifting in the ocean travelling thousands of kilometres for years on end. You can send recyclable items to places like Alam Flora Buy-Back Centres and earn some cash.
While individual efforts help minimise environmental issues, stricter policies and execution is the ultimate key to changing mindset and routine in a larger scale. Having to change our habit may be tough, but we should take heed of warnings by environmentalists before it’s too late. The ice caps are melting, weather’s gone haywire, animals going extinct – almost all in 50 years. The earth has been around for millions of years, let’s keep her spinning for millions of years more.
Else, we might really hear the dolphins singing “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”