Reuse Or Refuse Borneo
A 6-member team pioneering a cause many are familiar with, but few commit to; aiming to educate, inspire the public to stop adding but to start sustaining.
From an article posted on February 3, 2018 by the Borneo Post, some unflattering words sound forth as below:
“The average Kuching resident throws out 800g of waste daily leading to a whopping 690,000kg of waste being generated in the city every day.”
“Kuching folk cared too little about how much waste they produce.”
“In Malaysia, 230,000 tonnes of waste is generated a day. In Kuching alone, 690,000kg of waste is generated a day,”
Some of the above are quoted by Timothy Marimuthu, Trienekens (Sarawak) Sdn. Bhd. senior executive for business development during a talk themed ‘Waste & Our Generation’ who also lamented that, ‘the sanitary landfill used by Trienekens may not last its projected 25 years .’
Its mission then was to use various means to inspire the masses to reduce the use of plastics or wastes of all kinds as people go about their daily lives. This is a highly practical and meaningful cause, as we easily make hundreds of choices concerning the manner, amount of plastic packaging, straws, or one-time-use containers one has to use or pay money for.
In the hopes of those impacted will switch to eco-friendly options, and develop a societal consciousness concerning the harm plastics bring to the environment, the campaign was launched.
Kuching Waterfront, Carpenter Street, and India Street have been combed by the 6-member team, volunteers, and even by bystanders (who witnessed and decided to join in) in their past clean-up activities which prompted others to inquire when will the next clean-ups take place. This first city clean-up held was also a collaboration with Kuching Beach Cleaners Association, Wildlife Conservation and Science (Malaysia) Bhd (WC&S), and Sarawak Eco-Warriors.
2 years have passed, Kelly Hiu, a correspondent (from and on behalf of Reuse Or Refuse Borneo) has stated that if not for the restrictions placed due to the pandemic, the activities would resume as planned, the campaign has clearly not waned despite the passing of time.
When asked, “What do you think is missing in the public understanding of ROR Borneo (Reuse Or Refuse Borneo), since this is assumed as common, daily knowledge?”
Kelly Hiu answers in like manner: Many are familiar with the concept, but perceive that recycling, reusing is not as relevant nor does it bring an immediate, direct impact to one’s life, hence one does not feel obligated to trouble themselves to reuse or refuse. Also, this is seen more apparent in the more senior generation who may not be aware of the benefits of recycling, reusing, or refusing as much as the younger generation.
Below are some questions asked during a brief but substantial interview with Kelly Hiu from Reuse Or Refuse Borneo:
What are the plans of ROR Borneo in fulfilling its mission?
Besides leading clean-up efforts, Reuse Or Refuse Borneo plans to collaborate with like-minded organizations such as Sarawak-Eco Warriors, Kuching Beach Cleaners Association, WC&S, and even Zero Waste Malaysia in the future in carrying out projects, and as a group, work towards being registered as a non-profit organization. With future ideas still on the horizon, they are currently focusing on possibly starting an IGTV Podcast in addition to planning future city clean-ups.
There is a gamut of environmental advocacy groups present in Malaysia, how does or make makes ROR Borneo stand out?
Kelly says that they had never intended to stand out or to fill a niche that they perceive to be lacking. It was a simple desire to see a more green Kuching which begins with its people who will act on what they know or already know, mainly simple facts about environmental sustainability.
How can those who aspire to fulfill the same mission be of help alongside/with ROR Borneo?
You can join them in the next clean-up event if it takes place, follow them on all their social media platforms, and maybe ask them to host a TEDx event in your school or college as they are keen to give a talk about their mission.
Kelly in the very brief interview, when asked if she had an opportunity to give one message to a large audience, said:
“You can do something doable, something small in your reusing, recycling efforts. It does not need to be something big. Start small.”
How true, I would add that it is when grassroot efforts take place in a community that the proverbial and discouraging ‘flash in a pan’ is overcome.
As of 2021, Reuse Or Refuse Borneo continues their campaign which has elevated from a final year project to an ongoing movement, for the betterment of Kuching and beyond.
Stop adding, start sustaining!
Social Media, Resource Links:
 LinkedIn. (2019). Reuse Or Refuse Borneo. [Online]. Available: https://www.linkedin.com/company/rorborneo/