EARTH Day was on April 22. As Malaysians, we have always prided ourselves on our beautiful natural environment.

However, recent events have shown that our actions are taking a toll on the health of our planet.

From severe flooding to the never-ending haze, it is clear that we must take action to protect the earth and its inhabitants.

It is time for us to reflect on our impact on the environment and take action to mitigate our negative effects.

However, let us not forget that while our actions may have consequences, we can still take a lighthearted approach to encourage change.

Let us begin by reflecting on the situation at hand.

Perhaps it’s time for us to acknowledge that no, we cannot simply wave a magic wand to make the haze disappear.

And while we are at it, we cannot wish away the impact of climate change on our environment either.

It is time to take responsibility for our actions and work towards creating a sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.

As we celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri, let us remember that while we have fun and enjoy time with our families, it is equally important to note our consumption and activities that can have negative impacts on the environment.

Here are five specific ways Malaysians can take action this festive season, to be mindful of their actions and help protect the planet.

Choose sustainable food options

Opt for locally sourced and organic foods that have a lower carbon footprint.

And while we’re at it, let’s skip the fireworks this year and opt for plant-based options instead.

Reduce plastic use

Use reusable bags, containers, and utensils instead of single-use plastics.

Let’s not forget that the haze is partly caused by the burning of plastic waste.

So, let’s do our part in reducing plastic waste to help mitigate the haze problem.

Conserve energy

Turn off lights and appliances when not in use to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions.

Let’s not contribute to the haze problem by burning fossil fuels unnecessarily.

Reduce water usage

Conserve water by taking shorter showers and fixing leaks.

The haze doe not only affect air quality but also impacts water quality, we should do our part in conserving water to ensure its availability for future generations.

Support local businesses

Buy from local businesses that prioritise sustainability and environmentally friendly practices.

By supporting these businesses, we can encourage others to adopt similar practices and contribute to a more sustainable future.

As far as the haze is concerned, the minister has warned that this year’s haze situation may be even worse than before and this should be a wake-up call for all Malaysians to take action to protect their personal health.

It is important to take precautions such as wearing masks and avoiding outdoor activities during intense periods of haze.

Let’s not forget that the haze problem is not just a health issue, it is also an environmental issue.

The burning of forests and land for agricultural purposes contributes to the problem and it is crucial that we take action to reduce these practices.

As we celebrate Aidilfitri, we should reflect on our impact on the environment and take action to protect our planet.

We should take a lighthearted approach to encourage change but also remember that the impact of climate change and the haze problem are serious issues that require our attention.

Working together as Malaysians will allow us to create a sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.

Finally, we must address the intersection of climate change and health in Malaysia.

Climate change is already impacting public health in the country, with increased rates of dengue fever and other infectious diseases.

To address this issue, we must invest in public health infrastructure and promote awareness of the health impacts of climate change.

This includes measures such as improving disease surveillance, promoting vaccination programmes and investing in disaster preparedness and response.

By reducing our carbon footprint, conserving natural areas, promoting sustainable agriculture and water management practices, and investing in public health infrastructure we can build a more sustainable and resilient future for Malaysia.

Let us use this festive season as an opportunity to make a positive change and protect the planet for future generations.

Mogesh Sababathy is a Youth Climate Advocate, Co-founder of Project Ocean Hope and a PhD candidate at Universiti Putra Malaysia. Comments: