This was an exercise from the Climate Reality Leadership training in August 2020. The task was to write your climate story. This was my submission.

Six years ago, I didn’t care about the climate crisis.

I ate meat, I bought lots of stuff in plastic, and I couldn’t care less about recycling.

But two things changed that: living in the UK and watching the documentary Cowspiracy.


Separating waste

When living in the UK, you’re encouraged to separate your waste. There are usually 3 separate bins in each house or apartment block – one for recyclables, one for food scraps and another for general waste.

As a foreigner, I didn’t want to seem rude so I did my duty to separate my waste as best as I can. That soon became a habit.

So you can imagine the culture shock I experienced when coming back to Malaysia where rubbish is thrown unthoughtfully.

Nevertheless, I still do separate my waste as best as I can.

The only difference is that I’d have to drive out a few kilometres to the nearest recycling centre.


Cowspiracy changed my life

The second monumental change was watching the film Cowspiracy — a documentary about the environmental impacts of the meat industry.

I was shocked to learn that animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the transport sector combined.

Furthermore, a football field of the Amazon rainforest is being cleared every minute to make way for cattle grazing and/or growing crops for animal feed!

I felt guilty for being a part of this destruction.

Several months later–after learning more about animal agriculture, reducing meat intake and eating more vegetables–I decided to go vegan overnight.

I didn’t plan to be involved in the effort to save the planet, or rather, save ourselves from our own destruction.

But after years of blind education, my eyes and heart were opened.

I couldn’t ignore the climate crisis anymore and I certainly couldn’t simply stay silent.

And so I worked at an environmental consulting company and got involved with a few NGOs in Malaysia including WWF-Malaysia, EcoKnights, Malaysian Youth Delegation, Malaysian Vegan Society and Roots & Shoots Malaysia.

Basically, I dove straight into the deep end.

Eventually, I got burnt out and suffered from eco-anxiety.

a large iceberg floating on top of a body of water
Photo by Melissa Bradley / Unsplash

A different tactic

Along the way, I changed my career trajectory. I thought that I had better improve my writing skills if I’m going to persuade people towards climate action.

So I decided to work at a digital marketing agency as a copywriter.

I soon fell in love with the art of selling ideas through words.

Even though I became less active in the environmental scene, I still advocated for vegan and sustainable living wherever I went. My aim wasn’t to convert people but rather to plant seeds.

Now, I’m working on merging my interests in climate change and copywriting to essentially sell yours and my climate stories that are personal and impactful.

That’s why I’m here with you in this Climate Reality Leadership program.

Because while we may seem to be rational beings, we have been and always will be driven by stories.

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