Month: November 2010

I Love the Penangites

Penangites will have to do without plastic bags beginning January.

From Jan 1, 2011 all hypermarkets, supermarkets, departmental stores, pharmacies, fast food restaurants, nasi kandar restaurants and convenience stores (including at petrol stations) will be asked to stop providing plastic shopping bags to customers, the Penang State Assembly was told today. 

Read more: Penangites will have to do without plastic bags beginning January

Who said we cannot do it?
It has been a while since I last think about sustainability issues wearing the hat of a policy-makers. I blame my day-job, which forces me to think about these issues in the realm of capitalism – it is a risk a corporation could not afford to ignore: reputational risk, regulatory risk, litigation risk, and of course, financial risks. We-are-no-treehuggers mindset has well crept into mine.
And while all that I must say after one whole year when it comes to making the country more sustainable is that we need better enforcement, it is indeed interesting to see that this kind of effort is being made.
Reduction in plastic bags mean reduction in demand for plastic bags, albeit small, which somehow lessen the amount of resources needed to produce them. Think water. Think fossil fuel that runs the machine.  Think petroleum products which is one of the raw materials.
At the end of the life-cycle, reduction in plastic bags means reduction in amount that needs to be transported (which means less energy used for this purpose), and happily, it also means a smaller area of landfill that is needed for these plastic bags to wait for the day they finally completely disintegrate and decay, which is sadly 10-20 years after that. Or as some sources quote, up to 1000 years.
I bet, when we think of it this way, the life-cycle-analysis way, we can agree that this is not a small measure. It is something small that leads to something big.
Let’s analyse, though rather simply, if there’s any bad effect to this.
  1. The retailers get to be paid for any purchase of plastic bags – extra stream of revenue.
  2. Increase the demand for reusable bags – hence increase the production of such, which also use raw materials. But since this kind of business can be regarded as ‘green business’, I think we can keep a blind eye to this. People do need more than one bags, don’t they?
  3. If it is replaced by paper bags (say some stores choose to do so) – it will defeat the purpose, since in general, Malaysians do not recycle, and the chances of paper bags being thrown away are bigger, hence they are left to decompose. Okay, paper can decay at a faster rate, but think of the trees that had to be logged for this purpose.
  4. Plastic bags producers will have less demand, which means less business.

But to be a real theorist, I’d say the removal of one non-sustainable product from the market always means that there are still streams of other business opportunities – one that you call ‘green products’.

People always need something.


Give me spots on my apples

This is the first time I listen to the original version of this song. And I pretty much like it, partly because I am bored with Counting Crows’ cover version which I heard often on

Now I understand why the lyrics mention about DDT, which has been banned since 1970s in most countries.

I think this could be a good theme song for any sustainability supporters out there, or those who still cling to the outdated environmentalism.

Big Yellow Taxi

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
Put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away the D.D.T. now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard my screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

I said don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

More lyrics:


Let me take look at my to-do list with this song playing at the back…

10 Favourite Stress-busters

These are proven to work, at least for me. Just sharing, in case you need some ideas.

Listed not according to preference.

1. Family time

Sweet child of mine

I am renting with a long-time friend with whom I spend weekday nights talking to, so on weekends, I try to spend more time with family members. Mostly it is to compensate for the last four years when I was away. There’s a little kid aged 3 in the family, so it can’t be anymore de-stressing! If not with my married sister whose son is such a  sweetheart, I’d go out with my two favourite guys – my brother and my cousin, both 19. Watching movies, savoring nice food while talking and sharing stories.

And having my father’s consent, last week my brother and I drove to Kuantan – attending my best childhood friend’s wedding, and checking on my little sister at her campus. I seriously lost count on how much I spent on that two days: staying in a hotel, buying food, gas and toll fares, but I guess I could not care less, because I knew that I would come back to KL happier and in better mood.

We ate, met my sister’s friends, made stupid jokes, ate some more, went back, and came again to IIUM the next day and they had to follow me to the beach  – because at that time I need some sort of water therapy…Catching-ups have always been nice. The last time we met, I laughed my heart out until I almost fall off the chair. I mean, I didn’t fall, but the metal chair did, and that was really noisy.

Family is, I reckon, the best stress-busters – just because you are allowed to act and say silly things with reputation to take care of.

2. Attending religious class or gathering.

Nothing beat this. It’s the serenity, peaceful and tranquility that often draw me back to religious classes no matter how short the session can be, or how busy I am at that time.

Even when I was busy with my studies back then, I just could not help. I might seem not to prioritise things right, but hey, if this gives me the soothing and calming effect that boost my energy, I see nothing wrong.

You know, at some points in time you are just mentally and spiritually empty. You have had enough sleep, or beauty sleep, as you thought you were just tired. But that feeling just did not go away – so if you ask me, these gatherings are the best prescription.

I think it is more of meeting and being in the company of a person (or more) teachers who are, I believe, spiritually closer to God the Exalted, at better spiritual state than me, that gives me this peace. It’s like meeting someone who has been there, and you are motivated to do so too.

And of course, the supplication by the Angels to the attendees of such gathering.

How can I miss that?
How can WE miss that?

3. Catching up with old friends

One occasion I remember well when it comes to this, was when I met my school friend – deep in Germany, in this town of Essen – whom I have not met since 2002. It was seven years, so you know, we spent the first four hours talking non-stop. I wrote this in another entries, and as you might have guessed, it was 2 o’clock in the morning when I arrived at her doorstep, and you bet I was tired and she was sleepy, she even had early morning class the next day!

Maybe I should specify it –  the first meeting with your old friend after a number of years would be a really good stress-buster.

And I do love my not-so-frequent dates with my girlfriend, Haz – it is strange that we normally would be out of breath talking non-stop. Hanee would even give Haz the co-driver seat to Haz if I were driving, because she knows we’d have plenty to say to each other along the journey.

And I miss the companies of Aidah and Adibah and some other girls whom I know I would not be able to list them down here.

Oh, I do need my girlfriends. I really do.

4. Reading in coffee shops

A Cup of Coffee and a Good book

Now that I have talked about finding solace in people, I need to reiterate: I’m no extrovert by nature. I did various tests since I was in secondary school and it still doesn’t change much. I’m somewhere in the middle of extroversion and introversion.
And by that, I need both a personal space AND spending good time with friends.

And at times when my introversion is kicking in, I could not be happier with a cup of coffee and a good book.

I used to love Costa Coffee in Manchester, particularly in Arndale. My favourite is the one in Waterstone’s bookstore. I remember seeking refuge from my frustration due to my badly-answered examination at a table facing the old buildings in winter.

I savour the moment when I am actually listening to myself, jotting down personal thoughts and all.  I guess everyone needs some times to pause and reflect. And make plans to improve things and self, ultimately.

That is why I love travelling alone. Times spent waiting in airports and train stations and bus stations would have me sitting contentedly in corner of a coffee shop, with a cup of cappuccino – large size.

5. Exercise

I know how hypocritical it is for me to include this one, but it still is, whenever I’m doing it, reckoned as one of my favourite stress-busters. It is just that before I get to the part where stress is busted, I have to drag myself into doing it.

I wish I could have enough drive to exercise more now, that 45 hours of my time per week is spent in a cubicle (if not driving to some places) which limits my creativity if not sucking my sanity away.

And I know I’d need it most when my body starts to ache, or before I began a long journey or a tiring week. I’ve tried professional massage the other day when my body started to feel the pain, but it worked only at the moment I was being massaged. The next day the pain came back, and then I realised that the money paid to the masseuse was money burnt for no return.