PETALING JAYA: Festivals and other gatherings can be a lot of fun, but these events tend to result in considerable amounts of trash. Unfortunately, rubbish does not simply “go away” – it ends up in landfills and contributes towards the release of potent greenhouse gases such as methane carbon dioxide.
What’s worse is that the country is running out of landfills, which isn’t surprising given that Malaysians produce a whopping 38 million kg in waste daily.
Recently, the team at Zero Waste Malaysia showed it is possible to organise an event sustainably. “Under the Stars” was held on Saturday at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus in Subang Jaya, Selangor, and saw over 2,000 visitors in attendance.
Established in 2016, the non-profit organisation aims to increase community awareness on sustainable living as well as advocate for sustainable development.
As a considerable amount of trash comes from single-use food and beverage packaging, the NGO requested that attendees bring their own reusable food containers, tumblers, and cutlery.
Vendors at the festival, numbering more than 30, agreed not to use packaging or single-use disposables.
Those who came without their own containers and recyclables could easily get them from businesses such as Tapauware and Opack, which offer receptacles for rent.
“Under the Stars” featured various low-waste activities such as workshops on upcycled clothing, coasters, and do-it-yourself bath bombs; a vegan cooking class; silk-screen printing and hair braiding; Zumba classes; and an open-mic session featuring local singer-songwriter Zee Avi.
In addition, KakiRepair – a movement that encourages people to fix items instead of throwing them away – held a free workshop, while Zero Waste Malaysia conducted games centred around the organisation’s latest resource, Trashpedia, a “trash encyclopaedia” that serves as a resource on garbage segregation and zero-waste alternatives.
Once the sun had set, festivalgoers were treated to a psychedelic liquid light show by analogue projection artists Luna Macula.
The festival was graced by Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran, who said he was “genuinely impressed by the intricacy and planning by the team to create an ecosystem where going zero-waste was seamless for the day”.
“I hope for more events like this, because it acts as an entry point and a real-life demonstration to encourage people to embark on a zero-waste lifestyle,” he added.
For the second year running, Zero Waste Malaysia is organising its “Mission 30: Zero Waste Challenge” throughout this month, with the aim of encouraging Malaysians to take small steps daily towards sustainable living.
Although participants are not required to complete all actions, those who do so stand a chance to win prizes worth more than RM9,000. The event began on Saturday, but those interested can still take part and have a go at the previous days’ challenges.
The success of “Under the Stars” proves it is not impossible to run events sustainably. With some planning and collaboration, organisers as well as participants can considerably reduce the amount of waste generated – a crucial and necessary step towards protecting and nurturing the planet.
Those interested in joining Mission 30: Zero Waste Challenge can sign up here.