Couple Believe Simple Habit of Reusing Containers Goes a Long Way

The Star newspaper
Mon, 11 June 2007

Couple believe simple habit of reusing containers goes a long way

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Mylene Ooi always visits the market here with a basket and food containers to put in the produce she buys.

The traders and stall owners know exactly what to do – they put the purchases straight into the containers, no plastic bag for this 62 year-old, thank you very much.

The market basket, which the traders see, is also a familiar item that she brings to her green awareness seminars.

Her husband, Don Theseira, 73, shops at the hypermarket with an empty carton in his trolley. He fills the carton with groceries.

The couple believe that reducing the usage of even one plastic bag a day will help Mother Earth because “every little bit counts.”

Theseira’s passion for the environment started in 1996 when he read about schools embarking on campaigns to collect newspapers for recycling.

The couple started a recycling effort in their neighbourhood, using their living room to store old newspapers. They later expanded the collection to include plastics, cardboards, flyers, old tins and clothes.

“All proceeds from the items go to selected charity once a month. We have donated RM53,000 to charitable organisations,” says Theseira, adding that they have identified 12 such organisations, including Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital and Hospis Penang.

Since 2003, however, the couple no longer have to use their home in Taman Bukit Indah here as a storage area as they received 10 huge recycling bins from the Seberang Prai Municipal Council.

There are 12 pots of soil in the backyard where the couple emptied their organic waste into every night.

The couple, who received the title “Everyday Heroes” by Readers’ Digest Asia in 2002, said the hardest part of creating recycling awareness was changing the mindset of people.

For World Environmental Day, the couple encourage consumers to refuse a plastic bag when shopping.

“Cutting back on one plastic bag per person will help. Also, carry a tiffin carrier when buying take-away from hawker stalls to reduce the use of the plastic bags and styrofoam,” said Ooi.