How about an eco-Lent?

This year, Lent commences on February 14 and we will be celebrating Easter on March 31. Why are we talking about Lent when we have not finished the Chinese New Year celebrations, you may ask?

Feb 10, 2024

Elena Mei Yun

By Elena Mei Yun

This year, Lent commences on February 14 and we will be celebrating Easter on March 31. Why are we talking about Lent when we have not finished the Chinese New Year celebrations, you may ask?

It is not too early to think about what plans and campaigns to undertake for Lent. If you are thinking of doing something different this year, here are 10 Eco-Lent ideas you could do:

Eco Lent #1 Plant a seed
Planting a seed is synonymous with the new beginnings of January and February, the sacrificial element of Lent and the longawaited arrival of the lunar new year. And it’s not just symbolic — this is a great time of the year to begin sowing and growing if you’ve ever considered it. If you start now, you might get a fruit tree harvested within three months’ time. Growing a garden can be a rewarding pastime, as well as providing a bounty of sustainable food. Look for peatfree compost at your local garden centre or even better, pop a composter in your garden and make your own!

Eco Lent #2 Be a swapper where you reuse, repurpose and recycle
Why not join a swap event where you could swap clothes, items that you no longer use, spring cleaning your house ‘Marie Kondo’ style? Start by joining The Swap Project ( where you could swap your item that you no longer use. Just ensure they are still in good usable condition. Buy pre-loved items instead from thrift shops or bazaars like the ones organised by the Church of St Francis of Assisi, Cheras every Sunday to save items from landing in landfill. If you have young children, why not opt for hand me downs instead? Children grow up quickly and it is friendly to the pocket.

Eco Lent #3 Turn down the AC!
Why not turn down the air-conditioning during the 40 days of Lent? Use a stand fan and you may get used to it before you know it. If it is too warm, set your air conditioner to a timer to conserve energy. Air conditioning units consume a lot of energy, creating pollution in the form of greenhouse gas emissions. They are referred to as greenhouse gasses because they are released into the atmosphere, which in turn then causes a planet’s warming. These greenhouse gases lead to global warming.

Eco Lent #4 Bring your tiffin, shopping bags and flask!
Get yourself a cool take-away tiffin carrier from Auntie’s Tiffin or those old-fashioned hardy Eagle brand tiffins to ta pau your food. Some cafes even have cheaper promotion if you bring your own flask! A sustainable way to reduce plastics and from ending into the sea; killing thousands of sea turtles.

Eco Lent #5 Use fossil fuel, use public transport and carpool!
There are many ways to cut down fuel consumption. Biggest pollution emissions in Southeast Asia comes from industry emissions, power generation and vehicle emissions. Road transport contributes over 70 per cent of air pollution in urban areas and is the second largest contributor to the total carbon dioxide emissions in Malaysia at 21 per cent in 2016. In Malaysia, private cars, motorcycles, light, and heavy vehicles are major contributors to deterioration in air quality, especially in urban areas. (Source:

Try carpooling to church, events and places. Use the MRT, LRT and buses. Get the monthly My50 bus pass if you are a regular public transport user. You could apply for a concession card if you are a senior citizen, student or person with disabilities. Check out my/our-products/concession-cards/

Eco Lent #6 Switch to cloth wipes, nappies and menstrual pads
This is one of the biggest changes I’ve made over the years; especially since having our first baby and wanting to tread as lightly as possible. Cloth nappies and wipes are comfy, effective and simple to use (they look beautiful too). Our favourite brands of nappy are: Alva baby, Patpat and Holabebe which are all ethical Malaysian businesses. For grown-ups, cloth menstrual pads are also growing in popularity, with many people finding that chemical-free pads help to lessen pain and lighten periods. SERUM aims to provide reusable sanitary pads for 500 beneficiaries from underserved communities across Malaysia. For every RM15 donated, one reusable sanitary pad is provided. We aim to provide a minimum of two reusable sanitary pads to each beneficiary.

Eco Lent #7 Review your spending – who/what do you fund?
Do a quick search of your spending and you will be able to find a wealth of information. Be an ethical consumer by looking up on the company https://www.ethicalconsumer. org/company-profile/makro-cash-carrymalaysia.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask. A truly ethical company will already have a mission statement in place and will have full traceability in all its products. If a brand doesn’t know where the raw materials for their products come from, they probably aren’t very ethical. Be particularly demanding with clothes, coffee and chocolate, where modern-day slavery is still rife in the mainstream industry.

Eco Lent #8 Go vegetarian or vegan
This may seem easy-peasy to those who avoid animal products all the time, but for people who are in the transition phase — learning about the horrors of animal agriculture and the environmental effects — Lent might be the perfect time to dive into meat-free eating.

Eco Lent #9 Learn to compost your organic waste!
How many of us take separating our rubbish seriously? Why not collect all your organic waste when you cook and turn it into a compost? Send to your nearest compost bin, urban community garden or the church, if the church has a community compost bin. It makes the soil fertile and you would be able to grow edibles!

Eco Lent #10 Do a digital detox
Set strict parameters for use of personal devices, i.e. phones off during the workday or during evenings when you’re with family, no TV except on weekends, checking email and social media at designated times each day, etc. This is hard especially with work demands and family demands in these modern times but digital detox lessens anxiety. You would have more conversations with family and friends and you might be surprised after the 40 days’ challenge!

As we head towards the lighter and brighter days of Easter, make a positive change for the planet this Lent by trying out one or some of these eco-friendly swaps. With six weeks of reflection and small actions and baby steps, you might be surprised at what you can achieve by Easter!

(Our guest columnist this week is Elena Mei Yun, a mother, hiker, kombucha brewer and bicycle commuter who rides to work.)

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