AirAsia is committed to going green. We even have a green and sustainability department that organizes programmes and activities to raise awareness. Their mission statement: To minimise environmental impact and create sustainability in all aspects of our business and the communities we serve.

It’s a pretty straightforward mission. From time to time the department runs campaigns and contests to promote sustainability. For example, there is an upcycling initiative where the monthly winner gets free flights and other cool prizes!

The green team recently organized the screening of ‘A Plastic Ocean’, a highly-acclaimed movie documentary highlighting the issue of plastic waste in our oceans. And in conjunction with that they also invited Carolyn Lau, the co-founder of Tak Nak Straw (literal translation: don’t want straw) to give a speech and to show AirAsia Allstars how they can make their very own straw.

I sat down with Carolyn to get a better understanding of her project and what it stands for.

A well-spoken lady with a stern demeanor, Carolyn seems like someone you don’t want to mess with. I can imagine her chiding a complete stranger for littering if she ever comes across one.

“We’re a bunch of people that got together with the same objective. We were tired of complaining and not taking action,” Carolyn explained when I asked her about Tak Nak Straw.

Apparently Malaysians use up to 31 million straws everyday and that’s just based on conservative estimates. It maybe one straw for you but add them up and these straws can basically fill up a landfill.

“If you think about it, straws are the least necessary items that one needs along with the plastic stirrers people use to mix sugar or milk in their coffee or tea,” Carolyn continues. “We want to create the awareness among the public that you can live without a straw and it’s okay.”

She is part of a larger organization called Sampah, Menyampah that aims to work “Towards a cleaner, healthier, unpolluted, and community-spirited Malaysia”. And they move around Malaysia going to film festivals and events to give talks. If people will listen they will be there to reach out to them to get their message across.

“If people can’t go cold turkey, a gradual process of eliminating straws from our everyday life is still possible,” explains Carolyn. “We tried it at restaurants where straws are only provided on request and almost 80% of the patrons did not request for one.”

Besides the talks, Carolyn also conduct workshops where she teaches the public on how to make their own straws.

Sampah, Menyampah: Tak Nak Straw
Carolyn shows how to make a straw in her workshop

“We live in a generation where everything is easily available to us and that’s when we take things for granted. Hence, that’s why we pick up a straw and chuck it away without thinking of the environmental impact it has on the planet,” says Carolyn. “I want to teach the new generation to be the solution and not the problem and these workshops allow me to engage with them.”

Sampah Menyampah: Tak Nak Straw
AirAsia Allstars make a pledge to go green!

It takes a simple action to head in the right direction. AirAsia is certainly thinking that way, so how about you?

Danny Lau
Author

Danny Lau has been traveling the world since he was two years old. His first overseas trip was to Disneyland, California and since then he has made it his life’s ambition to visit all the Disneylands around the world. He is also a heavy consumer of pop culture, and his conversations usually revolve around graphic novels, movies or music.