MYROLE RTM1- Featured GrASS on 25 Jan 2011, 330pm

GrASS's Product Video

For more information on our products please visit our product site: CLICK HERE


Dear Friends,

We here at GrASS need your help to help us gather the below mentioned items to help us raise funds for our shelter and other independent pet rescuers.

The items are:

Scrap Paper
Old Newspapers
Old Magazines
Unwanted uncooked/raw Acidic Fruits ( Oranges, pineapples, lime,lemons)
Unwanted uncooked/raw fruits
Unwanted uncooked/raw Vegetables
Brown Sugar
Rice Bran
Red Earth
Glass Jars/Plastic containers with lids
Cardboard boxes (any other cardboard materials)
Aluminium Cans
Expired Food Products

For more ways on how or what items you can donate to help please visit HERE

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Article: The German experience

Sunday December 7, 2008


There are 'tricks' to conservation, and it's not impossible to save the world.

THE few things that struck us when we first arrived in Germany were the sausages, beer, punctuality and – as it was autumn then– the cold weather and the red and brown hues of leaves everywhere.

But Malaysian envoys Vigren V. Radha and Chan Sze Meun certainly saw more of the country than these as they were there for the Bayer Young Environmental Envoy (BYEE) 2008 programme held at Bayer's headquarters in Leverkusen, North Rhine Westphalia state.

The BYEE programme was started in Thailand in 1995. Two years after that, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) regional office for Asia Pacific adopted the project and expanded it to include participants from other countries in the region.

Lumbricus founder Ottmar Hartwig explaining the concept behind his ecomobile.

Youths who are passionate about the environment and have feasible ideas on how to conserve it get selected from their countries to showcase their projects. From there, finalists are given the chance to visit Bayer in Germany.

This year, 50 envoys from 18 countries were given a crash course on what it takes to conserve water, soil, air and everything else in between.

The learning begins

One can imagine that Bayer, founded in 1863 and known for its work in pharmaceuticals (it created Aspirin), agriculture and materials will have a formidable impact on the environment.

A bus tour of the ChemPark, where Bayer's factories are located, showed just how much effort is put into waste management and reducing pollution.

"This is how waste water coming in from the factories are treated," said our 'tour guide', pointing to ponds of frothy muddy water with aerating machines in the middle.

"Milk alkali is mixed in the water to neutralise it, then it is sent to these 25,000 cubic metre mixing tanks for the bacteria to purify. Then it goes into the purifying tanks where air is pumped in and sludge is filtered, dried and burned. The ashes of the sludge goes to the landfills, about 70,000 tonnes a year," she added.

These painstaking efforts, as well as those by various governments and agencies, have paid off.

Dr Babette Winter from North Rhine Westphalia State Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection revealed that "in the 1970s, people realised that they couldn't go on with bad air and dead water, so environmental legislation was established."

Since the Rhine River borders Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Netherlands, it is essential for factories, food and even drinking water for some countries. That prompted the countries to put measures in place, such as sponsoring small- and medium-sized companies which re-use the water, making consumers pay for the amount of waste water produced, and getting international cooperation to monitor water quality.

"Salmon became extinct in 1935 because of the pollution in the river, and tonnes of eel died when pesticides and herbicides spilled into the river in 1986," Dr Winter said. "But now, the salmon is back."

Sze Meun presenting her project at the Bayer Young Environmental Envoy 2008 programme in Leverkusen.

The envoys also had an eye-opening session with Dr Ulrich Bornewasser from CURRENTA environment who spoke about the concept of "water footprint".

"Water is used in washing, feeding and irrigation during the production of goods. This is called 'virtual water', whereby it is used in production but does not remain in the product," Dr Bornewasser explained.

For example, 365 litres is needed to produce a typical German breakfast comprising one cup of expresso coffee, a slice of bread, a slice of cheese and one egg. After explaining that one kilogram of a meat product uses 15,000 litres of virtual water, he noted that people could save water by eating less meat and drinking more tea!


It wasn't just all talk and no action for the envoys, as site visits and experiments were aplenty.

A talk and tour around AVEA (Leverkusen Municipal Waste Management) showed how various waste items like glass, plastics, paper, solid waste, electronics and others are separated and either recycled, used for power generation, composted or sent to be burned.

In fact, every house in Germany is expected to separate its waste by law and nearly every district has deposit points where residents can dispose their rubbish.

Vigren looking at the computers which monitor processes at the Burrig incinerator.

Another 'hot' site, literally, was the Bürrig incinerator, which burns about 180,000 tonnes of solid waste which cannot be recycled.

Amidst the thousands of pipes and a splendid view of the city on top of the facility, our tour guide explained that the waste is channelled to a rotary kiln, where the organic wastes are incinerated. The ashes are then dumped into landfills. After about 70 years, plastic foils and earth would be used to cover the landfills and the area would be turned into a park.

It is known that Bayer produces pharmaceuticals, herbicides, pesticides and chemicals like polyurethane and polycarbonate ((used in bathtubs, footballs and mattresses).

So the envoys were given a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes in terms of research, testing, technology and the concept behind the products.

They also conducted an experiment to separate the DNA of rice and collected soil aboard lab ship Max Prüss.

Sze Meun, 24, had an inspiring encounter during the visit to the ecomobile Lumbricus, a mini bus that has been modified to contain tables, microscopes, a television and lab equipment.

Lumbricus founder Ottmar Hartwig revealed that to instil the love of nature in children, he would make them collect soil and pick out insects, which he then showed them under the microscope.

"We want to reduce the distance between people and nature as we're working mostly with city children," said Hartwig. "And to widen our influence, we have the children make videos of the insects they find in the soil with voice-over and music, for them to show their family and friends."

"I was very inspired by the Lumbricus because I like children and this is a creative way to combine the environmental passion and children," Sze Meun said. "I'll probably dabble in this concept when I get home - but perhaps not soil because I'm not fond of worms!"

Vigren and Sze Meun viewing the factories around them from the top of the Burrig incinerator

In between the numerous talks, site visits, singing on the bus and tucking into German food, the envoys shared jokes, and learnt about each other's country and culture.

"Envoys from South America asked me why did Chan and I look so different," said Vigren, 23. "I had to explain to them that Malaysia has different races."

Many participants also found the discussions on project ideas useful and enlightening.

Sze Meun presented a recycling project that she hopes to start at her workplace, using the five Rs - rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle.

Engineering student Vigren, whose project is to organise a solar-powered car competition in his university, attended a discussion that was more technical.

"I found out the participants had very advanced ideas, on things to do with biogas and using algae in photo-bioreactors," he said. "I have made some contacts and since my university project is on biodiesel, I could have a joint venture with them."

Singaporean envoy Rebecca Yong Jia Hui plans to create a digital environmental syllabus; Simon Sizwe Mayson from South Africa aims to reduce transport emissions, and Venezuela's Enrique Pacheco wants to put story-tellers on buses to create awareness on the environment.

Jemuel B. Garcia Jr, 20, from the Philippines, staged dance-dramas in schools to tackle environmental issues! "It's great that we can share information with each other and compare practices in our country with that in others," said Sze Meun.

Participants also had a chance to hang loose during a walking tour of Cologne city, which was capped by a visit to the Gothic-inspired Cologne Cathedral, commonly called 'Dom'.

The cathedral was built in 1248 but work on it has not stopped since. It houses what is believed to be the bones of the three wise men who brought gifts for the baby Jesus. "I adore this city!" gushed South Korean envoy Cha Wha-Young, 24. "I have always wanted to come to Cologne because of the beer and since I'm Catholic, I enjoyed visiting the cathedral."

Lasting impressions

Spending five packed days together with passionate youngsters from all over the world certainly had an impact on the Malaysian envoys. "I wish we could stay longer!" said a wistful Vigren, en route to the airport. He had always wanted to visit Germany, and had been studying German vocabulary on his own since Form Four.

A man disposing of organic waste at AVEA (Leverkusen Municipal Waste Management).

Despite having to sit for his university examinations upon his return and feeling feverish for part of the trip, Vigren said it was all worth it.

"I tried not to think about my exam during the field trips. There is a proverb that goes, 'The greatest luck comes with the greatest hardship.' So I think things will turn out alright."

Other envoys enjoyed the trip as well, for a variety of reasons.

"The discussion groups were good because they helped me analyse the sustainability of my project," said Jemuel, adding that he is staging more dance and drama concerts and had convinced seven theatre groups to do the same.

Simon, 20, said: "I really enjoyed the chance to meet other environmentally-conscious people and was surprised about the envoys' level of critical thinking." Enrique, 23, revealed that he was interested in implementing some ideas shared by the others in his country.

Inspired by what they saw in Germany, Sze Meun and Vigren have some ideas of how Malaysia can become environmentally-friendly.

"I think having legislation in place can change the mindsets of people," she reasoned. " In Germany, not everyone wants to recycle. But because of law enforcement and the fact that they have to pay for their waste, people started to be conscious."

For Vigren, the main problem is the lack of awareness and the technology needed to have an effective waste management system. His sentiments were echoed by Rebecca.

"What I learnt was how complicated Germany's waste management system is, even though the country is so big! I wonder when Singapore can reach that level."

Of course, for the envoys, the real work starts when they return home.

"We've been in a fantasy world for about six days because everyone here is so passionate about the environment. Now we have to return home and face the reality," said Sze Meun. "But I believe it can be done because we've seen people how have done it."

This article was taken from: The Star Online: Education 7 December 2008

No comments: