Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking back at 2009

Life is truly unpredictable.

Within the past week, 3 of my friends had family members who passed away. The biggest lesson learnt was that life is short and there's so little time to make a difference in the world, so little time to love the people around us.

2010 will be a challenging year. Finals coming up and I'll be starting work middle of the year. Probably that will be a good change in environment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

E-bills

I'm glad that quite a lot of companies here started using e-billing. I've been a loyal Digi user and they're pledging to donate RM3 to WWF-Malaysia for each customer who make the switch to e-billing. Those who do not will be charged RM3 for each bill in the future. Great move!

I've also switched off postal bills for my internet provider (Streamyx). I hope more companies will make the switch too. I'm sure it'll save them money, so it's a win-win situation.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Malaysia in COP15

Malaysia is aiming for 40% reduction of carbon emissions by 2020. If only our ex-prime minister put that in the plan for Vision 2020 back then. At least we're trying to catch up.

I hope our government not only focuses on climate change, but also all other aspects of sustainable development. More can be done to conserve resources. Just recently, I was in a conference hall where the air conditioning was set too cold. It was uncomfortable. This is a common phenomena over here, especially in public buildings. If only steps were taken at better temperature control. We could save so much money on top of emitting less carbon. These are little things which do not require much investment but can yield so much more, especially when it can be done in a large scale.

Dear readers, do let the people who run these buildings know that they're wasting resources. They're wasting the people's money.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Green Journeys

Greetings from Malaysia, not one of the greenest countries in the world, but we're getting there. When I read this post from The Green Phone Booth, I felt that I needed to share my green journey too.

I've been a greenie right from my childhood years. My cousins & I would set up a green club where we find out simple ways to save the environment and bug our parents to do the same. Whenever my mom pulled out the bug spray can, lil' me would be nagging her about the CFC's she's puting in the air.

Being from a little town that didn't have a recycling program, all we could do was compost when it came to waste management. Now that I've moved to a place of my own, things have changed. I've put a bin in the kitchen to collect compost and several other bins to collect recyclables. Even my housemates picked up the habit since I've made it easy for them to do so. The recyclables are collected by the local dialysis association, so we're helping the environment as well as people on dialysis.

Another habit I picked up while staying in London for some time was to bring my own bag for grocery shopping. I couldn't bear to use disposable bags after coming back home. One look at the checkout line, nobody else does it, but I hope someday somebody will notice and want to do the same too.

It does get kind of lonely on my green journey when people around me just don't bother. Now that I've found the world of green blogs, I know I'm not alone. I've even started my own and hope to contribute in and outside the circle of like minded people.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Donate unused credit

With more people switching to postpaid, I find that quite a few of us cannot finish our minimum commitment amount.
In Malaysia, I've only found one organisation that accepts sms donations. Check out WWF Living Planet Appeal. I wish I found them earlier. This is the last month their program is running. I hope they continue it next year.
If you know of any other organisations, do drop a comment.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Making money from recycling

I'm thankful for cleaners who separate our trash for recycling. Do do it for a small monetary gain, but I still think it is something worth applauding.
I just read about RecycleBank, they actually give points for recycling and the points can be used to redeem rewards. I wish we could have something like that here. For now, I'm happy bringing my recyclables to the kidney dialysis association. They raise funds for people in need of dialysis but cannot afford to pay exorbitant prices.

Being fat - whose fault?

When I see people around me being overweight, I really do wonder what went wrong. I know I'm blessed with a high metabolism, but I still watch what I eat. It's a known fact that I'm a health freak.
I do have a high metabolism, but it doesn't mean I can get away with eating high fat foods and not have high cholesterol. So I stay away from fried foods most of the time and meat is more of a flavouring when I cook.
I am a medical student and I know what is good for me and what is not. My classmate knows it too. Yet, he is severely obese, diabetic and hypertensive. When we eat together, it looks as if I'm the one on a diabetic's diet instead of him. He would order fried noodles (hardly any veggie with lots of oil) while I have rice with veggies and a piece of chicken. He would order a sweet drink while I have plain water.
If anyone out there who is reading this and needs help. I can give free lifestyle advice to loose weight. But to succeed in loosing weight, it takes more than that.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Buy Nothing Day 2009



The good thing about not living in a big city is that shopping is not much of a past time for me unlike some of my friends living in cities with abundant shopping malls. What else is there to do besides walking around in a shopping mall? Where else can people hang out?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

To scrap or not so scrap - Malaysian sugar subsidies

I caught parts of an interview on the local news about scraping sugar subsidies in our country. So, I decided to do a bit of research on the matter.

Subsidy on sugar costs the country about RM720mil annually. The argument for scrapping it is that "Sugar is not a staple item like rice and flour. Sugar by itself is not a necessity item. In fact, health authorities have always discouraged sugar consumption and if at all, to be consumed minimally". Besides that, government price cap encourages people to smuggle sugar across the border into Thailand, where it fetches double the price.

Malaysians consume an average of 26 teaspoons of sugar a day, compared to 17 teaspoons in the 1970s. It's no wonder that there is a sharp rise of diabetic cases among Malaysians particularly among the younger generation.

What is the actual cost of subsidising sugar then? Perhaps we should factor in the medical cost of diabetes. If a patient does not have other complications, he will consume twice the average amount of resources for medication. But once other complications set in, the cost becomes higher.

Let us see what happens when kidney failure sets in. A patient has to go for dialysis three times per week, which means about 13 times per month. Each dialysis costs around RM250 at private hospitals. This will amount to about RM3,250 per month. Factor in indirect costs such as productivity losses and foregone productivity attributable specifically to diabetes and permanent disability (loss of limbs/eye sight).

I could not find Malaysian statistics for these costs. But just to get a picture of it, the total annual economic cost of diabetes in the US is estimated at $91.8 billion in 1992 ($45.2 billion -- direct medical costs -- and $46.6 billion -- the value of productivity foregone due to disability and premature death).

Looking at these numbers, don't wait for sugar subsidies to be scrapped. It is time to cut down our own sugar consumption.

Matthias Gelber - Greenest man on the planet

He has been around in Malaysia for quite some time. However, it was just recently that I've decided to write about him.
I would love to have him as a neighbour. When I watched his video, it made me realise that we really can make a change. He started a recycling programme in his condominium and it has spread to other condos. It's amazing how much one person can do.
Check out his blog:
Matthias Gelber

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Food Inc.

I was finally able to watch Food Inc and it opened my eyes to what we actually feed ourselves and the people we love.

Being a student, it's very common to go for fast foods. Even if I don't support it myself, sometimes it's just hard to say 'no' when all our friends want to hang out at a fast food joint. Every bite I take makes me feel guilty. But after some time, friends get it that I'm against fast food and will suggest other alternatives.

I'm glad that Malaysia hasn't gone to the extent of mass farming like what they do in the US and I hope it doesn't happen. Another video which I watched recently gave a really good idea of how farming should be. Watch Micheal Pollan talk on TED

Hope you all are eating healthier!