19 June, 2011, New Sunday Times - Sometimes life can seem too busy to worry about the environment. Like the famous saying by Kermit the Frog, â€śIt ainâ€™t easy being greenâ€ť. This is why localized education-based efforts need to be exciting, fun and most importantly, far-reaching and impactful.The believe that small changes can make a big difference has been the backbone of local green competition, Anugerah Hijau, or Green Awards.
Anugerah Hijau is a 3 year old programme initiated by EcoKnights that is slowly reaching out to young Malaysians near or far. Started off as a humble pilot project for 27 high schools in Petaling Jaya, Anugerah Hijau currently reaches out to all high schools and universities in Peninsular Malaysia.
Anugerah Hijau is an environment-themed competition for youths which focuses on using creativity and innovative approaches in addressing environmental issues. The competition is open to youths in Peninsular Malaysia between the ages of 14 and 25.
There are two competitive categories â€“ the Totally Active category involves making a short video on an environmental issue while the Wildly Creative category involves creating a sustainably designed fashion wear.
For the Totally Active category, youths from all over Malaysia are invited to record and edit a short video of 1 to 3 minutes, approaching one environmental issue that worries them and proposing solutions for it. Alternatively the video could also be about an inspiring green activist, or an endangered species.
For the Wildly Creative category, youths are invited to submit their eco-friendly fashion designs, ensuring that 70% of the materials used are used or recycled, and eventually transforming their sketches in to a proper clothing item. Whether itâ€™s the future of school uniforms, or perhaps a Hip-Hop fashion statement, the idea is to create and make fashion wear that is both fashionable and stylish yet low-impact in terms of the materials use
â€śEcoKnights wants to make it easy for teens to live green, and I believe small changes can make a big difference for the earth. By educating teens on these easy ways to contribute, we hope to help them incorporate green living methods into their busy lives. No one is too busy to care about our future, especially when there are simple ways to make a difference. After all, todayâ€™s teens are inheriting the earth, we need to create change now,â€ť said Yasmin Rasyid, founder and president of EcoKnights, a non-profit environmental organization based in Kuala Lumpur, where most of the organizations programmes targets youths.
â€śClimate change and global warming will, and is already posing a big challenge to achieving sustainable living, but it can also be an incredible opportunity for countries such as Malaysia to leapfrog old technologies and lead the younger generation in embracing a new low-carbon future,â€ť added Yasmin.
â€śEventually, Anugerah Hijau wants to be accessible to all youths from Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak, and we foresee the inculcation and development of more local creative talents that will use their skills to address and solve climate change and global warming issuesâ€ť, concluded Yasmin.
For this year, the competition was launched in March and has just recently ended on June 15th 2011. A panel of expert judges from will be reviewing all the submissions by the young participants and ten finalists from each category will be selected.
These finalists are required to attend a customized workshop that aims to equip the finalists with the skills and techniques to advance their green ideas and make them a reality.
Anugerah Hijau is an EcoKnightsâ€™ Social Responsibility (SR) programme that has gradually grown in magnitude and works with partners the CIMB Foundation, Shell Sustainable Development Grants, Malaysian Productivity Corporation (MPC), biohome (Lam Soon Products), Yuber and Spin to address climate change and global warming issues.
EcoKnights is already working on next yearâ€™s programme and is expected to include participation from youths from Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. This is aim to set a higher benchmark for youths and also to pull attention to the current youth-based efforts that are happening in this South East Asia region. For more information about EcoKnights and how your organization can be part of this social responsibility programme, log on to their official website, www.ecoknights.org.my.