Is Selangor State #greenrebate towards sustainability?

I’m writing in respond to an article “Green homeowners rewarded” that was publish on the blog selangorku Kekal Hijau.

The news was reported and publish at SelangorTimes on the #greenrebate:

PETALING JAYA: Forty-nine “green” homeowners here were awarded with tax rebates by the council recently for incorporating energy-efficient and environmentally friendly practices in their homes.

Residents were awarded up to RM500 rebate in their annual assessment by Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) mayor Datuk Roslan Sakiman for practising a green lifestyle.

“I”m glad to get a rebate of RM500. I pay RM600 every year, and this year I only have to pay a small sum,” said resident Liu Paye Wah.

I’ve responded to the tweet that was tweeted about the news. To me, this kind of campaign is not well thought looking on the idea of  sustainability really means, it is bias and will only bring benefits to certain group of people and that is the rich. Its money oriented and also encourage consumption habits

It is important for us the citizen to question on the unclear goal of the #greenrebate program. Im not saying the initiative done by the selangor state is bad, it is not “well thought” on the goal, strategy and tactics because its not moving to clear direction. We need to really understand what is sustainability or Eco-friendly really means.

By giving tax-exemption to solar water heater owner or hybrid cars how does it really promote toward sustainability? Is this kind of campaign will encourage and empower people towards sustainable life? who benefits the #greenrebate campaign and who is the “target audiance”? If the purpose to encourage to a better and greener way of life, to live life in eco-friendly homes then how many of the people will afford  to own a hybrid cars or install a solar heater to their homes enjoy the benefits of these tax-redemption that the Selangor State are offering? If this is the 1st program introduce in Malaysia, then Why isn’t the  Selangor state-govt did not introduce a more cost effective program that is less money oriented such as investing to sustainability educational and advocacy programs for all schools also engaging with stake-holders to give understanding  means and importance of sustainability and eco-friendly living?

I do remember that  Malaysia Goverment have introduce a program called Kitar Semula. If you do a research and google “kitar semula” there will be tons of link that discuss about the previous program. Here are one example of case study  looking on attitude citizen towards the recycle program (program kitar semula) . The research was done by Jabatan Pengurusan Pembinaan & Harta Tanah, Fakulti Pengurusan Teknologi, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia. The findings are:

The purpose of this paper is to study the behavior of public the recycling program. This case study is conducted in Balikpapan District, Johor. A total of 383 respondents were used to represent the population residents in the area. The results showed that the respondent obtain more information related to recycling through various source, but the habit of recycling among residents in the locality Balikpapan is still lacking. Knowledge of respondents on the use of three bins color is still lower. Only 5 percent  participating from the program introduce. Various reasons have been givin for not participating on the program”

The finding shows that it is crucial to empower and invest to basic education on green living such as recycling, change for sustainability requires a learning or education approach to better equip people to think about the future, understand the complex systems involved and empower them to work together to achieve sustainable outcomes.

RECYCLE is part of Sustainibility 

Recycle is part of Sustainibility. It is not just people with private land, garden, yard or solar heater&hybird cars owners. If there is a big faliure on the previous recycling program, why isn’t the Selangor state govt improve the previous program by engaging the the goverment to discuss the real problem on the past programs and find ways and solution to it?.Why cant the state provide more educational programs to schools and work with the Malaysia Goverment for these kind of efforts?  If you read the detail on the said research done, it is clear that that are low level of participation on the recycling, then how are the Selangor State Goverment supposed to make people understand about other component for living greener live for sustainable future ? Ask your neighbor do they recycle? how many recycle bins you can allocate on rural area or sub-urban areas or even near flats or apartment in Sg.way or Sek14 PJ? is the recycle bin can be accessible easily ?  Have anyone ask where does the money goes when we have to pay for plastic bag if we forgot to bring the green bag on saturday?

Systematic thinking is important and crucial- embracing complexity rather than simplifying things in order to really understands the impacts of such campaign Many of these question need to be answer before running a campaigns such as no-plastic bags on saturday and now the #greenrebate. Identified the problems on the recycle program, find a solution, not just introducing new campaigns hoping for change! Recycling is the very basic of knowledge of eco-living act you can do, but if the citizen feels that its not important and not participating, then there are lot of effort and work need to be done.

Relook on what is sustainability?

Sustainability is the capacity to survive. Sustainability is a long -term process of maintenance of dedication and responsibility, that has environmental, economic, social measure and surround of ethics on responsible planning and management of resources.

In ecology, sustainability describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time, a necessary precondition for human well-being. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. – notes on sustainability

If you look in CUBA,  “in the 1990 there was a peak oil when the fall of the Soviet Union caused the loss of most food and oil imports. A documentary  “the power of community” shows how Cuba’s transition and survive during hard times  for example planting urban gardens , using permaculture and organic farming to reclaim soils destroyed by chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Local farmers reconnect with their neighbors and willingly supply free food. To help people survive, the Cuban government even expanded their free, localized medical system. To increase food production, the government divided state farms into smaller private farms and cooperatives. With smaller farms and local control, farmers replaced fossil fuels with labor-intensive practices, animal power, and Cuban-developed biopesticides and biofertilizers, resulting in increased per-acre productivity.Cuba adapted, survived, and thrived because they mobilized their entire culture. They made changes requiring cooperation, adaptability, and openness to alternatives. As one Cuban in the film remarks, “When told they needed to reduce energy use, everybody did it.” -read more here: Permaculture Media Blog

There are many example across the world that promote sustainability in more cost-effective and minimize the citizen consumption, and encourage citizen participation. But do  our selangor state #greenrebate contribute to the real idea of sustainability? for me the answer is NO.

Sustainability for all not the the RICH. RECLAIM back idea on sustainability!

Looking back at the article on rewarded citizen with #greenrebate. Lets just asked ourselves, who afford a solar heater?  How much does it cost to install it? To install a solar water heater, it can cost you from RM 3000 to RM5000 depends on gallons/liter. Like i said, not many of us do have that such amount of money, I can say that only the high income earner would have the opportunity to buy and install the solar heater at their own home, so they could enjoy the eco-friendly house and also earn the benefits of the rebate from the state goverment. well, its good business for the rich helping the rich i must say, but what about the mid-income or low income? Aren’t these group should be the priority for the state to provide “assistance” so could less burden on the high living cost now days? Instead of awarding citizen tax-redemption that is so cliche and only rich can afford, why dont the state give out state own land to local community to run a community garden? RM500 can supply a lots of seeds and provide tools for gardening, RM1000-3000 can bring an expert to give trainings to people interested in urban gardening, permaculture, or open a resource center focusing on Eco-friendly living.

I think its about time the Selangor state to think back on all the green campaign. Not just think, think critically. Its not just about doing and running an eco-friendly campaign, its about sustainability, if the Selangor state can’t even think about programs that benefit all citizen towards Sustainable future, then just cut the crap out of your slogan on helping the rakyat (citizen) on  making changes. The way i look at it is  90 % politic and 5 % money oriented and 5% eco-green sustainability friendly and its SUCKS!

See other links and example on more sustainability programs:

1) Australia Govt: Taking Action for the Future: How organisations make successful change for sustainability , http://www.environment.gov.au/education/publications/taking-action.html

2) Cuba Argiculture: http://www.cubaagriculture.com/agriculture-today.htm

3) National Action Plan for Education for Sustainability; http://www.environment.gov.au/education/nap/index.html

4) Urban Argiculture-Urban Gardening; http://www.mrsc.org/subjects/parks/comgarden.aspx

5)Florida Green school Awards-recycling; http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/recycling/pages/educate.htm