Eat What You Can, Bring Home What You Can’t

By Michelle Ng

One day, in the State Assembly, I noticed after lunch that there was a lot of leftover food.

“Dik, lepas ni you all akan buat apa dengan baki makanan ini?” I asked the waiter

“Buang je la.” She said without missing a beat. I felt my stomach drop.

We were contributing a lot to the landfill. As most of us know, landfilling is the most environmentally damaging method of waste management. The more we throw away, the worse it becomes. The fact of the matter is that all of us are direct contributors to these state of affairs.

I saw an opportunity for change.

You see in 2019 when I got married, I engaged an organisation called What a Waste to rescue the excess food from my wedding lunch. We were able to divert 64kgs that occasion.

So when I saw the food in the State Assembly, I thought of them. Having built a few bridges with the caterer and the State Assembly’s office, we began operations.

After two sittings, we were able to rescue a total of 345kgs of food, which were diverted to orphanages and the needy. With each kg of food saved, the WORLD Health Organisation estimates 2.5kg of carbon is removed from the atmosphere. Therefore, these operations essentially removed a total of 862.5kgs of carbon!

With the Ramadhan bazaars now in full swing, excess food again comes at the forefront. Again, together with What a Waste, we saw 300kgs of food collected on the first day at the USJ4 Bazaar!

Carbon removal is important to slow climate change. If we do not do so, more carbon means more heat trapped in the atmosphere, which hastens the melting of the ice caps. Sea levels rise, weather change, cities risk sinking. In Selangor, Port Klang is expected to submerge by 2050. Subang Jaya will be closer to the sea, but not in a good way.

Imagine the economies lost, jobs affected, land ownership compromised, infrastructure loss – the knock on impact is massive.

There is a saying – “We do not inherit this earth from our parents. We borrow it from our children.”

Teaching about and influencing a reduction of carbon emission has been difficult. This is be because: one, you cannot see carbon. Two, we’re talking about entrenched behavioral change. That said, it is incumbent upon every one of us to do our part for our children and future generation. We owe that much to them. Surely, we do not want to leave them an earth fraught with disasters and sinking cities.

With the festivities approaching and food waste expected to rise 10-15%, this is a reminder to us all to be mindful of our consumption.

Eat what you can, bring home what you can’t. Compost instead of disposing. Together, we can make a difference.