Sarawak Eco-Warriors team members.

It is only the second month of 2020, and news of natural disasters happening around the world are constantly popping up in the media. Environmental activists all over have been relentless in spreading awareness of climate change, global warming, ozone depletion and many others to persuade others to start caring.

Saving the world, one small step at a time (centre)

Sarawak Eco-Warriors team members.

Right in our own backyard — Sarawak Eco-Warriors (SEW) initiated many environmental-related projects with the purpose to care and to encourage others to care for Mother Earth. The group believes that the more we understand the underlying issues pertaining to the environment, the more it will give us reasons to start caring.

The idea of SEW originated from an event held in Sabah organised by the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI). The workshop, known as ‘Borneo Eco-Warriors’, became the venue for SEW key members initial meet-up.

Having the same focus, and wanting to make a change within the community, the members later returned to their hometown and organised several events. In the beginning, SEW was a closed group before it had developed into a more inclusive and volunteer-oriented platform.

The group currently acts as a platform to provide opportunities in the conservation of natural resources and welcomes everyone who wants to volunteer, learn or even start their own initiatives. Training green leaders have been an essential goal in SEW as they believe that saving the planet will only be achieved when everyone works together.

Through their perspective

A 60+ sign with lights generated by a stationary bike displayed during SEW’s Earth Hour 2019 event.

Speaking to SEW president Celine Tiang, she emphasised the need to care for the earth as it is our only home. “We need to ensure that it is protected so it can sustain our future generation.”

She also added, “When a species is lost, it greatly affects the natural cycle as it impacts the stability of food, air and economics.” Living in the land of Borneo with lush rainforest, Celine said there is still hope present here as we see trees are still standing tall and animals continue to thrive in their habitat.

SEW team member, Ian Chin, sharing his passion on permaculture at ‘For a Better Kuching’, an environmental themed talk.

“We can still save the lush biodiversity of our local environment if we make smart decisions that are sustainable for human growth and conservation of our natural resources.”

As the president, Celine said she is not asking for people to save the world, “Rather think about the small decisions we all make every day.” Decisions and actions such as turning the lights off when leaving the room, taking a sip instead of using a single-use straw, “these are small decisions that have the biggest impacts when we do it together.”

Started in 2017, SEW’s first project was organised at a secondary school in Sematan. Called ‘Green Stars Environmental Workshop’, and through the coordination of local artist Nia Latif, the students produced a 96-square-feet art piece representing a hammerhead shark made from marine debris collected during the clean-up.

Besides that, the group regularly organise monthly beach clean-ups together with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Malaysia Programme and Kuching Beach Cleaners.

SEW also organised public education events such as workshops, talks and public sharing. One of their projects was the making of a bench out of eco-bricks (used plastic wrappers packed in plastic bottles to become bricks) for Santubong National Park.

Entering their fourth year, SEW wants to focus more on providing opportunities for anyone who has an interest in environmental conservation. “We also intend to focus on community education while continue running our monthly clean-ups,” Celine elaborated.

Hoping to be able to work in arms with everyone, SEW is a platform for those who want to learn more, to volunteer in skills and expertise. Those who also want to lead their own environmental-related initiatives can contact SEW at sarawakecowarrior@gmail.com.

A volunteer holding DIY signs during SEW’s Earth Hour 2019 event.