Creative Ways to Better Living

THE term `sustainable living' is all the buzz these days. While we all know how sustainable living can benefit us tremendously, it is not always the cheapest way to go. Organic food can cost more than inorganic food and energy-saving appliances cost a lot more than regular ones. It is therefore, very easy to see why people oftentimes choose to take the cheaper route.

With a little bit of creativity, we can find ways and means of living a greener life just by changing our daily habits. As the cliché `a little bit goes a long way' goes, our little bit will certainly benefit the planet in the long run making it a more livable place the future generation.

Here we explore some options to living a healthier and sustainable life without creating a dent in your wallet:


* Using the public transport
We all know that the public transportation system in Malaysia leaves much to be desired but taking the LRT to work especially if one works in the heart of the city can certainly help save a lot of time that would otherwise be spent being stuck in traffic jams. Taking the LRT also means that commuters get to save money on parking fees that are getting increasingly exorbitant.

* Carpool
The word `carpool' is not alien to us. Radio and television advertisements have been going on about it since the early 90s but with the current traffic congestion across the country, it would definitely be wise to put more thought into carpooling. After all, less cars on the road translate automatically into less traffic jams.

* Walk or bike
Before there were cars and buses, people used to get around by walking or cycling for short distance travelling and this is something we should start doing more of. Cycling or walking will improve our cardiovascular health and also reduce the risk of obesity while helping save on petrol and parking fees.


The home is the easiest place to go green. After all, almost everything that happens in the home is within our control. For example, choosing to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) at home helps reduce energy consumption when compared with regular light bulbs.

Another effective way to save energy at home is by unplugging appliances that are not in use as appliances, even though switched off, still continue to consume electricity. Installing a `smart' power strip helps cut off energy use in appliances that are switched off. A good way to brighten up the house without the use of electricity is by opening up the windows at home during the day plus it invites fresh air into the house.

Many of us send our clothes for dry cleaning but what we fail to realise is that the dry cleaning process uses a chemical known as perchloroethylene (PERC), which is an effective solvent for removing dirt. PERC, however, is a synthetic and volatile compound that poses a health risk to people in addition to being a threat to the environment as most of it ends up in the air or in ground water. Wearing fewer clothes that require dry-cleaning will help save a lot on laundry bills as well as cut down the usage of toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment.

Taking a 10-minute shower consumes approximately 25 gallons water. We sometimes forget how much water we're wasting when we take long showers.

By opting for shorter showers, we save on our water consumption and this also helps save energy because we use less of the water heater.

Using a water filter to purify tap water at home eliminates the need to buy bottled water as bottled water is not only expensive, but plastic bottles also generate a lot of waste. When going out or at work, be smart and choose to use an aluminum bottle to store water rather than a plastic one.

Leftovers are part of every household and instead of throwing them away, a novel idea would be to store them in a compost bin. After a few months, the compost can be used as organic fertilisers to grow healthy plants.

While it may be awfully tempting to keep up with societal pressure and buy every new electronic gadget or smartphone out on the market, it is not the most environmentally friendly thing to do. Waste from electronic materials contains a lot of mercury, sulphur, cadmium, lead and other toxic substances. Electronic waste is an environmental problem that is fast growing so try to hold on to your electronics as long as you can and when they can no longer be used, sending them off for recycling is the responsible thing to do.


Holidays are an integral part of our lives. They give us an opportunity to escape from our daily routines and live in a world that is totally different than the one that we are familiar with. Holidays can also be green but going on an eco-friendly vacation doesn't mean going into the jungle and roughing it out for a week. It means using common sense and taking some initiative to be a traveller that is environmentally conscious and most of the time, it will help you cut down on your expenditure.

* Take longer trips
Taking shorter, regular trips produces more carbon dioxide emissions as opposed to a longer one. So choose to compile your annual leave and take a long vacation instead of just going away for the weekend. You will come back from a long vacation feeling totally rejuvenated and would have left a smaller carbon footprint.

* Don't pack your entire house
Packing a light luggage means that the plane has less to carry in the air reducing the amount of fuel it uses. As laundry services are widely available all over the world, getting your clothes cleaned will not be a problem.

* Choose travelling by train
Travelling by train is another option to consider when going on a holiday. A train only produces one third of the emissions of an aeroplane so it is definitely a greener option plus travelling by train allows you to view the sights in a very comfortable setting without any extra cost. A train tickets also costs much less when compared to airline tickets.

* Go local
Malaysia is abundant with its holiday destinations so why not consider taking a local holiday instead? With its magnificent beaches on the east coast islands, jungle trekking in Taman Negara, caving in Mulu and mountain climbing in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia has a cornucopia of travel-worthy destinations to suit the needs of even the most discerning traveller.

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