I stayed on campus for the first year of my university and it was a great experience in terms of personal growth and discipline. My table top was organised into different regions: one area for ‘rough paper’, one for worksheets, one for laptop and so on.
My dustbin had 2 partitions, separated by the thin sheet of garbage bag I bought from a mama shop. Inside the garbage bag was trash, while outside of it were recyclable items. There were the outer cardboard casings of my favourite snack, Hello Panda, glass bottles of energy booster, Brand’s Chicken Essence, papers which had both sides filled up with scribbles/prints already. I am quite particular about the state of my recyclables; I made sure the items are rinsed before I dispose them at the recycling bins.
Magic clean isn’t fed to the dustbin until I had both sides used; a habit I picked up from home. I would line the used side with toilet paper and use the other side for another good round of mopping.
And these are things I never used to pay much attention to, until I started writing this article.
But what prompted this article was actually due to my unnecessary consumption of goods, which is an exact opposite of the above good practices I undertook.
It was last Saturday when I first heard about the 6 ‘R’s. The nagging words of my brother as he waved the complimentary sauces I brought home from McDonalds in my face: haven’t you heard of the 6 ‘R’s – refuse?
Refuse, because these sauces would likely sit in my fridge, only to be discarded 6 months later untouched. It doesn’t make me feel good at all that my brother is very likely to be right on this. In the end, I stashed the sauces in my fridge (again) but committed myself to refusing complimentary sauces next time I go to a fast-food chain.
I grew up in a family that reinforces habits such as reusing old items and recycling used items. I could still remember how I made a fuss over having to use second-hand textbooks when I was 7, 8 years old. I disliked using something that didn’t belong to me as well as the annoying process of having to erase the workings of the previous owner. But my mother paid no heed to my tantrum. In her opinion, there was no need to spend extra money when we had perfectly usable textbooks given by our neighbours.
Looking back, I can see that my habit of recycling and reusing was very much influenced by my family’s thrifty habits. In fact, these days, I look forward to getting a good bargain off second-hand textbooks than buying new ones. (though I find getting second-hand textbooks in University increasingly difficult due to the frequency of editions being published)
However, I have to admit I haven’t been paying attention to my consumption habits. For example, the complimentary sauces. To me, recycling cardboard and used papers has become a habit. But I could not say the same for my effort in reducing the amount of unnecessary purchases that could ultimately end up as waste. The amount of post-its, notebooks, and other stationery sitting in my room is definitely more than what I could consume. I buy things on impulse that later end up as junk.
“Haven’t you heard of the 6 ‘R’s – refuse?”
I think family and friends play a more substantial role than statistics in motivating us to make a lifestyle change. Just like my brother’s words, which was what motivated me to relook at my consumption habit and recycling, hence the birth of this series of write-up!