5 easy steps for a zero waste Raya

Is it possible to celebrate Hari Raya without leaving more footprint on the planet? We think so! Here’s your guide to the perfect zero-waste Raya!

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Last year, the people of Malaysia had a rude awakening when we found out that our country has once again made international headline for the wrong reason. This time, we became the world’s most famous plastic rubbish dump by importing nearly half a million tonnes of plastic waste from 19 different countries within the first half of 2018. This scandal is a slap in the face to all Malaysians and it makes us wonder, how did we stoop so low?

In light of the recent incident and the rise of the environmental documentaries (thank you, David Attenborough), it’s safe to say that many of us are becoming more and more aware of our pernicious acts towards Mother Nature and we want to do something to make a difference; to create a better tomorrow for the generations to come.

As Hari Raya approaches, there’s no better time to apply this way of thinking than now. Recently, Zero Waste Malaysia encourages all of us to go zero waste during the Ramadhan period by asking us to ditch disposal packaging.

Not only was the post well-received, but people also started to adopt this mindset by bringing their own container to the bazaar.

Here at iProperty, we want you to continue this effort and bring the zero-waste movement all through the Raya season. To help you with your journey, we’ve put together five simple tips to go zero-waste so you can celebrate Hari Raya while conserving the environment.

1. Reduce single-use plastics

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Single-use plastic bags like straws, grocery bags, bottles and containers are one of the main killers of our planet. In a report done by Waste Management Northwest, an estimated of 4 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year but only 1% of them are returned for recycling. Thankfully, countries and cities around the world are taking a stand to end single-use plastics, including Malaysia. As a matter of fact, our Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change recently announced that our country will eliminate single-use plastics by 2030.

One of the easiest ways to prevent more plastics ending up in the landfill and to the ocean is to say no. For Hari Raya this year, let’s try to do things with a little more conscience and a little less profligate. You can start with:

  • Carry your own recycle or tote bag when you’re out for grocery shopping.
  • Instead of accepting plastic straws, carry your own or simply say no.
  • If you’re buying drinks to serve guests for your open house, choose cans instead of bottles. Better yet, show off your barista skills and concoct your own homemade drinks for them.
  • When saving your leftovers, use glass containers or beeswax wrap as they can be reused.
  • Opt out of plastic utensils and go for silverware instead. It’s less convenient, but you’re doing the environment a huge favour.
  • Make freshly squeezed juice instead of buying them in plastic containers.
  • Make your own cleaning products and eliminate the use of multiple plastic bottles.

2. Shop secondhand

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Zara. H&M. Cotton On. Forever 21. You’ve probably heard of these brands or even a regular patron of these places. They dominate the fashion industry by producing a cheap alternative to high-end brands, allowing us to dress up and look pretty without breaking the bank. Sounds perfect, right? But here’s an ugly truth that no one wants to hear: The fashion industry is now the second largest perpetrator of pollution after oil. Clothes that are made with natural fibres, like food waste, produce greenhouse gas as it degrades while synthetic fibres are not biodegradable, making our constant crave for new and cheap clothes a bane to the environment.

That being said, there are ways for average Joe like you and me to alleviate the stress that fast fashion had caused. For Raya this year, instead of hitting the mall or browsing for your Raya clothes online, try thrift shopping. Before you scowl, hear us out. Most thrift shops carry high-quality vintage or one-of-a-kind designs at a much lower price. Or you could even DIY your own outfit with the ones that you’ve bought in the thrift shop. Not only does this recycling method helps the environment, but also allows you to break out of your comfort zone and be more creative with your style.

Here are some of the vintage shops we swear by: Klumby KL, Buntil, Jalan Jalan Japan, Luxury Vintage and Bargain Basement.

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If thrift shopping isn’t your jam and you have to have a new set of baju Raya, don’t worry, you can still shop without guilt. Truth to be told, ethical fashion is in vogue and designers are now coming up with ways to design and create apparels that are both sustainable and à la mode. Such local fashion brands include Sayang, Kanoe, Biji Biji Design and Real.m focus on creating a system that reduces carbon footprint. Having said that, there are also brands that “claim” they’re operating ethically by taking a shortcut in implementing ethical practices. An easy way to identify if a brand’s truly sustainable is to tick all the boxes in this checklist:

  • Check the brand’s CSR policy page
  • Look for fairtrade certification
  • Email the brand by asking these questions:
  • What materials did you use?
  • Where are your fabrics from?
  • What steps does your brand take to ensure the safety and fair pay of all workers in your supply chain?
  • Are there any organizations or sites that have third-party information about your brand?

Visit third-party not-for-profit sites like Rank a Brand, The Good Trade and Environmental Working Group

3. Consume responsibly

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Last year, the chief executive officer of Alam Flora reported that they’ve collected 511 tonnes of solid waste every day during the month of Ramadan. To make matter worse, some of the garbage that was not disposed properly would end up in the drains that flow into our rivers, thus causing river pollution and clogging.

This year, let’s pledge to do better. We all know that when it comes to festive season like Hari Raya, we tend to overindulge, especially when we were presented with so many tantalizing foods on the dinner table. But like all things in the universe, there has to be a balance. While overindulgence may give you the instant gratification you seek, you’re also at risk of wasting. Think of all the starving children in Africa!

So the good news is, there are many ways to minimise the amount of waste we contribute to the landfill, and one of them is to eat responsibly. You’ve probably heard of “drink responsibly”, but what in the world does eating responsibly mean? Simple, it’s all about encouraging people to only consume what they need and go for dietary recommendation that leaves the least environmental footprint.

The process of eating responsibly begins way before the food reaches your mouth. Ideally, the best practice would be growing your own produce, but let’s face it, ain’t nobody got time for that, especially during busy period like Hari Raya. So let’s move on to the next best thing: A step-by-step guide to reducing food waste.

  1. Shop smartly – That means buy only what you need. Before you head out to shop for ingredients to cook for your open house, estimate how much food to cook, make a shopping list and stick to it.
  2. Eat leftovers – If there are leftovers, save them in the fridge and incorporate them into your next meal. You should also label them so you can keep track how long they’ve been.
  3. Avoid clutter – Use the “first in, first out” principle when it comes to storing your food. Chances are, you may overlook foods that are stored in places that are out of sight.
  4. Keep track of your trash – Keep a simple list of what you’ve thrown to the bin so you can prevent repeating your mistake in the future.
  5. Preserve leftovers – Pickling is perhaps one of the best ways to increase the shelf life of your food.

4. Compost waste

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Now that you’ve clued up on the subject of eating responsibly, the next thing you need to know is composting. Composting, in a simpler term, describes the natural process that speeds up natural decay of organic material. As mentioned, festive season like Hari Raya often gives rise to the amount of waste we generate to the landfill. But through composting, we can keep these scraps out of landfills and recycled into energy for plants

No matter how vigilant we are we the way to prepare food, food scraps and leftovers are inevitable. More often than not, we toss things like banana peels, eggshells and coffee grounds into the trash can without thinking twice when they can be turned into natural fertilisers for your gardens. But wait, if we were to compost at home, wouldn’t it smell? And not to mention, it sounds messy and complicated. Not if you’re doing it the right way.

Here’s a simple cheat sheet for you to start composting at home or in your apartment like a pro.

Step 1: Know what to compost and what to avoid

What can be composted What can’t be composted
Vegetable and fruit scraps Dairy products
Eggshells Weeds
Newspapers Anything containing meat, oil, fat or grease
Coffee ground Dog or cat litter
Tea leaves and tea bags Diseased plant materials
Soiled cardboard Synthetic chemicals
Manure
Dried leaves and flowers

Step 2: Start by laying it all on the soil. Throw your scraps on the bare earth to allow worms and other organisms to break down the food. Add a layer of twigs or straws to aerate the pile.

Step 3: Add manure into the mix. Any green manure such as food scraps, tea bags and coffee grounds releases nitrogen that activates your compost and speeds up the process.

Step 4: Keep it moist by watering it occasionally.

Step 5: Cover up to retain moisture and heat — the two main essentials for compost — with wood or carpet scraps.

*Note: Compost should be moist, not soaked.

Step 6: Give your pile a quick turn with a rake or shovel every couple of weeks to “add” oxygen into the mix.

Step 7: When it turns dry, brown and crumbly, that’s when it’s ready. Add your compost to your plants and just sit back and let nature do its work.

Want to learn more about composting? Click on the link below:

5. Upcycle Raya decor

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As tempting as it is to head to the mall and buy new and fresh decorative items for Raya this year, take a step back and think “Do I have any old decors lying around somewhere in the house where I can recycle?”. If the answer is yes, then there’s really no reason for you to purchase any. But as human beings, we always crave for something new, something fresh, something exciting (which is why we’re never really satisfied with what we have). Still, there’s no reason for you to buy because you can always use your creativity to upcycle your old decor and turn them into a brand new item. In fact, all the gift bags, ribbons, old magazines and other knick-knacks you’ve collected over the years can be reused.

Besides, what better way to bond and spend quality time with the family than working on a diy project together? Take a look at these videos that simple DIY quilled ketupat that you can start with:

How to make a quilling ketupat:

How to make 3D star:

How to make Ramadan lantern:

And that’s just a few of the easiest ways you can have a Zero Raya this year. Which of these will you try out this year?

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