My home country Malaysia is unique in many ways.

By unique I mean it from the lens of waste management.

Imagine living in a country where you can still see various solutions to recycle and up-cycle trash into a resource. I can’t fathom living in a country whereby all waste are to be incinerated – end of story.

There will be no incentive for inventor/designer to think with an end in mind – producing something that can be easily recycled.

There will be no recycling bins in our vicinity.

There will be no accountability by corporate companies to ensure their end product does not create another form of waste.

There will be no appreciation that every waste is gold and that waste can become another form of resource.

I am glad that at least in Malaysia, I can still find various alternatives to recycle and extend the lifespan of other material that is difficult to recycle. Here are my four to-go places for landfill avoidance.

(1) Recycle With Recyclers

A quick check from Google Maps can tell you the nearest recycling facilities from your home or work. Just turn on your GPS and type the word “recycle” in your Google Maps app. You may call them to further verify the types of items they accept. It would be more encouraging to deliver your recyclables to the nearest recycler as you can ascertain that your recyclables end up in the right facility on top of being rewarded (paid in cash) for the sales of recyclables to the recycler.

(2) Reusing Plastics

Save the Plastic for Me (Malaysia) is a Facebook group that focuses on gifting or requesting plastic material for the purpose of reusing. If you have extra bubble wraps, plastic containers or plastic bottles that you would like to give away, you may post in this group. Similarly, if you need some of these material, you can request from the group members. I find this group to be helpful as it specifically targets plastic material. On top of that, you receive great ideas and tips if you have plastics that you are unsure where to recycle them. Since recycling plastic is not as straight forward as recycling paper, it is helpful to give to someone else that could reuse them.

(3) Give Away Things You No Longer Treasure

If you can’t recycle, gift it away!

I always turn to a Facebook group called Buy Nothing Project (BNP) Klang Valley Official. BNP group allows us to post things that we would like to give away for free or request from group members for things that you are searching for. This movement first started in the United States and being localized here in Malaysia. I personally give away a lot of things through this platform, for example, some of my office wears that are still in good condition, baby essentials, books and novels, etc. I feel that it fosters good spirit among the community especially by helping other people although they are strangers to you.

(4) Refill Your Essentials

I visit my favourite shop, Kita Refill every few months to refill my detergent stocks from floor cleaners to toilet buster to shower gel. Basically I save some bottles and containers at home to be reused for refilling. Some may wonder why do I need to trouble myself to bring empty bottles to refill detergents, when existing detergent bottles in the market are largely recyclables (as they are usually packaged in Code 1: PET and Code 2: HDPE bottle). Well I personally feel empowered to support businesses that have environment and health in mind. Kita Refill has been established since 2012 and their business purposes are to create detergents that are gentle for our skin and safe for the environment (in terms of ease of degradation). I do not have data as to how the quality of our water bodies will improve if majority of our people opt for more bio-degradable detergents/shampoos. But I do believe that our earth will not have to be over-burdened by chemicals disposed by detergent manufacturing company if the damaging chemical ingredients are omitted from the formula of production in the first place.

Since I am in waste industry, I have seen voluminous amount of chemical being disposed to landfill by manufacturing company when their concoctions went wrong and it really hurt to even imagine all these chemical in high concentration and quantity seeping into our soil and then our water table.

Hope the above tips are helpful. Leave me a comment below on how else you are diverting your waste away from landfill!

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