Green: Eco on their mind

From left: Yeoh with Raphaelle and Gabriel at the launch of their children¡¯s book Billy The Plastic Bag

NST Online, July 5, 2010

The recent Eco Haven project at Lot 10 was a bazaar of sustainable ideas. SUZANNA PILLAY was there to check out the options

CAN townies develop a green lifestyle, despite being surrounded by concrete almost everywhere? For YTL Corp, it’s a big, resounding “Yes”!

To prove it, the company recently turned the main concourse of its Lot 10 shopping centre into an Eco Haven bazaar of sustainable ideas for its fourth Climate Change Week.

Twenty vendors who believed in recycling and giving old things a new lease of life set up booths there, selling everything from jewellery and bags to home ornaments and clothing.

Even paper and pull tabs from drink cans were fashioned into attractive baskets and bags.

Artist Philip Wong also came up with a series of Eco Sculptures made out of recyclables and strategically displayed them around the venue.

YTL director of investments Ruth Yeoh, who launched the event, sees Eco Haven as a window to new and practical ideas, setting an example for sustainable living in the city.

“It’s a nod to our pragmatic forefathers who understood the true value of everyday things, where worn clothes were turned into quilts and rainy days provided water to clean their cars.

“Through the various activities that we have put together for the week, we want to show Malaysians that it’s easy to go green.”

Since YTL started Climate Change Week in 2007, what has been most fulfilling for Yeoh is seeing the much improved environmental consciousness in locals.

“Climate change today has become a mainstream concern of the country. But we’re still at the stage which scientists have termed ‘ecological overshoot’ — using and wasting more resources than our planet can sustain or produce,” she says.

“Individuals hold the key to mankind’s breakthrough against climate change. If we look at history, the greatest social transformations — the end of colonisation or the women’s rights and civil rights movements — began with public awareness, then engagement.”

Environmental bigwig National Geographic’s booth, though small, was a significant presence at the concourse. It recently opened its third worldwide store in Lot 10, putting Malaysia on the global map after London and Singapore.

But it was Gabriel Tseng, 14, and his sister Raphaelle, 11, who stole the show with their earnest effort in doing their bit for the environment. Their children’s book Billy The Plastic Bag was launched there.

This inspiring story started off as a simple presentation they shared with organisations, clubs, schools and associations to raise awareness about environmental issues.

Gabriel wrote the story last year after he was so moved by the film Message in the Waves, which tells of the plight of albatross chicks suffering from plastic-filled stomachs which hindered them from absorbing enough nutrients to grow.

This led the siblings and two friends to form Kids For Earth, which aims to teach children about protecting the environment through a series of educational talks and workshops.

Earlier in the morning, the Tseng siblings conducted a free interactive Climate Change Week Kids For Earth Workshop at Lot 10 for more than 40 children from primary schools around the Klang Valley.

“The aim of the workshop is to get them to start thinking about recycling and starting such programmes in their schools,” says Raphaelle.

The morning sessions also included sustainable living demos for the public such as low-energy cooking, compost making and using enzymes as natural cleaning agents.

Leading the low-energy cooking session was Lot 10 Teeq Brasserie head chef Leong Chin Onn. He showed how you can prepare Salmon Tartare and Mango Salad and whip up White Chocolate Cake in only 45 seconds in a microwave!

“It was a challenge to complete two dishes in 20 minutes.

“I selected the chocolate cake recipe because it usually takes 45 minutes to bake in a conventional oven (using about 3,000W energy), but only 45 seconds in a microwave (600W-1,300W). The energy used is considerably less than baking in an oven.

“And I selected Salmon Tartare and Mango Salad because it doesn’t require any cooking at all,” he says.

Next, nutritionist, herbalist, farmer and agriculture consultant Ivan Ho of For Earthsake showed how you can make compost in your backyard or even condo.

The Just Life group shared its passion for an organic lifestyle free of chemicals by making natural cleaning agents (enzyme making).

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