What is sustainability and how can we live a sustainable life

Sustainability poster

Sustainability is one of the few buzzwords that we kept on hearing for years to this day. Wikipedia defines the term as “the ability of a system to exist constantly at a cost, in a universe that evolves towards thermodynamic equilibrium, the state with maximum entropy”. In simple terms, it means the ability for the business, environment or other resources to be maintained at a certain rate or level to avoid the depletion of the resources. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. It is also part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

There is something that we could do, as Earth Citizens, to ensure that we use the resources that we have today in a way that maintains the supplies of the resources in the future. Living sustainably does not imply that you need to refrain yourselves from all the entertainment, or even your cup of Tealive, but rather being warier on your resource consumption and the amount of waste that you produce. Here are some tips on how we can live sustainably:


1 Conserve the use of energy

I have gathered some energy-saving tips from the website of Tenaga Nasional Berhad so that we can be kinder to the Earth by reducing power consumption:


Make time to power down

It is important to set a timer for electric appliances as it helps you to automatically turn off the appliances after some time. It could even help you to turn off appliances that you forgot to turn off as well.


Choose to care for the environment by using energy-efficient appliances

You may have seen this sticker on new electrical appliances that are on display in the electrical appliance stores. Whenever you choose to buy an electrical appliance, always choose the one with the higher energy ratings as it tends to consume less electricity.

Electricity Efficiency Sticker

Natural light is better for your eyes

You should draw your curtains to let in the warm sunlight into your room whenever you need light instead of using artificial lights to reduce energy consumption.


2 Eat more sustainably

You can select food that is healthy for your body and the environment. It means eating food that provides a balanced diet but also helps to conserve the environment.  Here are some tips for eating sustainably:

– Eat different types of food

– Eat more plant-based food

– Grow your own crops


3 Minimize waste

The amount of waste produced in Malaysia is expected to rise to 30,000 tonnes this year. The amount of waste generated continues to increase due to the increasing population and development, and only less than 5% of the waste is being recycled. According to the Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp), by this year the total amount of food waste can certainly fill up 16 of the Twin Towers. Malaysians waste about 16,688 tonnes of food daily, an amount equivalent to feeding about 2.2 million people, three times a day. Food waste releases methane gas and this gas is far more dangerous than carbon dioxide as it absorbs heat more than any other greenhouse gases. Even though the lifespan of methane is shorter than carbon dioxide, the effect of the gas is more potent. The heat that it absorbs can warm the earth in a short time. Therefore, we should all be more conscious of purchasing goods. A simple act of bringing your bottle to class instead of buying mineral water in plastic bottles can help reduce a lot of waste too!


4 Recycle

One of the best things that you can do to promote sustainability is to recycle. You should recycle as much as possible to reduce waste. Data from SWCorp collected from January to November 2018 puts the Malaysian recycling rate at 0.06% or about 1800 tonnes of the 3 million tonnes of waste collected in the period. Most of the waste was sent to landfills. Recycling reduces the demand for raw materials and other resources associated with extracting, transporting and processing these materials.


5 Donate or resell items that you do not use anymore

You can extend the life of the items that you no longer need by selling them on an online marketplace such as Carousell or Mudah.my or even donating them. While gaining some extra cash, you also help to reduce the products that end up in landfills. These donated items might help those in need as well.


As an Earth Citizen, we should all be making the future the cause of our present by living sustainably so that the future generations can enjoy the resources and environment that we are enjoying today.


Written by: Teng Jun Siong


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