"Never mind, I don't need the plastic bag, I bring my own ", I politely informed the salesgirl.
"Oh, OK, " the girl tried to hide her surprise, albeit not very successfully.
" You know what, I think you should live oversea, bringing that bag during shopping ", once my friend teased me.
"Ala, you don't need to stay oversea to be good, though" I replied without feeling offended.
Those were among the first few remarks I received whenever I used that not-so-glamour shopping bag during shopping.
I suppose, it's not very easy to change our old habit that have been instilled inside us for many-many years.It has escaped our norm to bring shopping bag to the shop instead of using the plastic bag readily provided by the store.
Well, I could not remember the exact time when this awareness feeling started to emerge within me.
It was just there, probably by miracle, Oops, by knowledge to be exact.
Oh!, now I remember, it was all started when I was in the confinement after giving birth to my 4th girl. I was using disposable diapers as most mothers do across the globe.
Day after day, I realized that I had disposed so many, up to 12-15 diapers per day as newborn pooed very often.It was not their fault, by the way.I felt guilty to the environment, how my diapers will clogged the landfill and how long they will take to decompose.
So I started to use cloth diaper, the reusable, washable, modern and trendy cloth diaper that has made a come back around the world.
So, it was all started from there, whenever I browsed the net to get more informations on cloth diaper, I would somehow got exposed to various ways to conserve our mother nature.
One of the most effective ways to do it is by reducing the usage of plastic bags.
Why? Why those plastic bags have to take the blame for the hindrance of betterment of our nature.
Apparently, manufacturing of plastic bags consumed tonnes of gallons of petroleum and gas, and not to mention production of other toxic material by-products and most of the plastic bags will end in the landfill or else in the river or ocean.
So, can you imagine how scary your landfill will look like if the plastic bag-habit will be going on and on for the next tens or hundreds of years from now. Don't be surprise if someday, the landfill will end up just behind your house....
Further more, the plastic will take 20 to 1,000 years to decompose, Oh my god...is it that long?, one will ask.... apparently it's true.
Some developed countries had banned the usage of plastic bag in the shopping mall and Ireland had imposed a tax for every plastic bag used and that had reduced the usage of the bag by 95% in 6 months. Wow... that's pretty fast, isn't it.....when everything involves money, then no other action can works that fast.
Malaysia produced approximately 200,000 tonnes of household waste every day, (I think that amount can easily filled the entire Kuala Lumpur in a few days... pheww!!)
And we hardly recycle....
If European countries can recycle up to 50-60% of their waste, we Malaysians only recycle 5% of ours.........so anybody want to debate on developed country mentality?
So my friends, what should we do? Probably waiting for the new government to take charge and let them just think about it.
Or else, we take charge ourselves within our circle of influence.
I am not a member of WWF, let alone a hard-core environmentalist, but deep in my heart I know I have to do something, within my own capability.
I remember a quote : WE DON'T INHERIT THIS EARTH FROM OUR ANCESTORS BUT MERELY BORROWED IT FROM OUR CHILDREN.
So I chose to reduce using plastic bag instead using the tote bag I got for free whenever I attended any academic function or likewise. I also treated myself with a tote bag bought from local shopping mall.
At first, I felt so 'uncool' to bring those bag along with me, some will just stared at me as if I was somebody from isolated village and just one 'jakun makcik" shopping in the first class shopping mall...
If my bag does not look appealing to you, there are actually, many trendy and fashionable bags in the market and some do available in Malaysia.
By using this bag everytime you go shopping, you can reduce the usage of plastic bag and reuse the bag again and again. If you can recycle whatever waste you made, the better. Hence the concept of 3R emerged.
If we don't use one plastic bag/day and if one million of us do the same, we can prevent one million plastic bags going into our landfill and imagine, how many hectars of greens can we conserve for our children?
This quote is self explanatory - Alone we are only a drop, together we are an ocean.
To be honest, I am far from a plastic-free lifestyle as for now, but I believe, everything have to start somewhere.
I remember a quote from an unknown author, if you cannot do everything, don't abondon everything....
I am also planning to start recycle.... but I am quite sure, the journey will not be easy... to change our mindset is a challenge, let alone the helper in the house, it can be disastrous, but I pray Allah will help me along the way.
It was quite disheartening to see, around the globe, the 'go green movement' is being led by a non Muslim organizations. Without being prejudiced for their noble intention, I strongly believe that Muslim should be a champion in this issue.
Why? being a believer, keeping our environment healthy and safe is a very much an Islamic issue, as Islam is a way of life and 'rahmattal lil 'alamin' - a blessing to the entire universe, not only to human but to the entire livings.
If you ask me, what motivates me the most in this 'Go Green' thingy, my answer is inside this verse
So my friend, what can be more motivational than the words from our Creator?
SO TOGETHER WE MAKE OUR WORLD A BETTER PLACE FOR TOMORROW.
Ummuzulfa, 31st March 2008