26 MAY 2017, Kuala Lumpur – For the third year in a row, local environmental NGO, EcoKnights, is kicking off its annual awareness and empowerment program in the month of Ramadhan to educate Malaysians on the need to reduce usage of plastic bags in food bazaars around the country. The campaign also aims to educate the public on the importance of reducing food wastage from homes.
“EcoKnights aims to visit selected Ramadhan bazaars in the month of June distributing recyclable bags and food containers to the public to encourage them to purchase their food using greener alternatives when they break their fast with their loved ones at home,” said Fadly Bakhtiar, program director of EcoKnights.
Speaking to national radio station Traxx FM recently, he said that EcoKnights is looking for corporate partners to sponsor eco-friendly bags and containers to be handed out at selected Ramadhan bazaars in the Klang Valley.
“We hope that we are able to gain the support of corporate companies to lend a hand in this campaign and spread the message to more people,” added Fadly.
Apart from the on-ground activation of the Green Ramadhan campaign, EcoKnights will also be reinforcing its on-ground efforts with the launching of its social media campaign encouraging netizens to tweet, Instagram and Facebook their recycle bags and food containers.
“We feel that Malaysians lack encouragement to take a greener approach in their purchasing and consumption habits and as such, we hope that social media, as a tool, would be able to encourage and empower more Malaysians to be bold and proud of refusing to use plastic bags and wasting food. We have created communication materials with tips on reducing food wastage and encouraging the reader to use recyclable bags when shopping for food at bazaars.” added Fadly.
Plastic Bags in Malaysia
While many states in Malaysia are now encouraging shops to charge customers for the use of conventional plastic bags as a way to get people to bring their own, small food stall operators like those typically found in Ramadhan bazaars in the Klang Valley still give them away for free.
Conventional plastic shopping bags take hundreds of years to break down and the vast majority of them are thrown in the garbage, rather than recycled. They also blow away easily, and regularly wash up on shorelines across the world. According to data from the Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Clean-ups, plastic bags are consistently among the top 10 pieces of trash collected on beaches globally. They also threaten marine animals such as jellyfish and sea turtles, which mistake them for food.
A study published in Science by Jambeck and his associates in 2015, for instance, estimated that, out of 192 coastal countries in the world, Malaysia is the eighth largest producer of mismanaged plastic wastes. This study estimated that in 2010 Malaysia had produced 0.94 million tons of mismanaged plastic wastes, of which 0.14 to 0.37 million tons may have been washed into the oceans. Thirteen percent of Malaysia’s solid wastes are plastics, of which 55 percent are mismanaged
According to the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA), the average Malaysian uses 300 plastic bags per year. Thus with a population of 30 million, multiply that with 300, and the result is a whopping nine billion plastic bags Malaysians are using each year.
Food Waste in Malaysia
According to a 2016 article in the Star, Malaysians waste 15,000 tonnes of food daily including 3,000 tonnes that is still fit for consumption and should not be discarded. This amount increases in the month of Ramadhan.
The FAO stated that food waste is a critical issue to address as it is important to food security. Reduction in food waste can help improve the food security situation.
“With EcoKnights’ awareness campaign, we hope to provide sufficient awareness to encourage Malaysians to plan their purchases at the bazaar Ramadhan. We understand that after fasting for the whole day, our appetites swell up and we tend to think that we can consume a lot. However, this is a flawed perception,” said Fadly.
EcoKnights stresses on the importance of planning. If an average Ramadhan bazaar shopper can be encourage planning their food shopping well, it’s easy to reduce food waste.
Overeating is also another cause of food waste in Malaysia. Perhaps a cultural issue, Malaysians tend to believe that having an abundance of food is better than being insufficient. This results in leftovers being wasted. Ideally leftovers should be frozen and stored properly for later consumption and whatever that remains can be composted.
With the EcoKnights’ Green Ramadhan campaign, it is hoped that government agencies, corporates and also the general public would be encouraged to lend support in the campaign by sharing their green habits at the Ramadhan bazaar on social media.
This campaign was recently featured in a local government radio station, Traxx FM where the EcoKnights officer shared details and aspirations of the campaign. To listen to a podcast of the radio interview, click here.
For further information about this press release, kindly contact the EcoKnights office at firstname.lastname@example.org or via land line at +603.7731.8361.