Muhammad Syazani (YES 2011-2012, Malaysia, placed by PAX in Adams, MN) is part of a social enterprise called KITARAN and was recently interviewed for the YES Alumni Malaysia blog.
What is KITARAN?
KITARAN is a social enterprise that focuses on fighting climate change in Malaysia by advocating for responsible waste disposal. This includes 3 components: Educate, Recycle and Repurpose.
Educate – Changing people’s perception of discarded items.
Recycle – Pursuit of a more circular economy that fosters a more responsible and caring society.
Repurpose – Increasing the lifespan of a product and adding value to "junk."
In KITARAN, what we do is not something new or revolutionary, however, our aim is to prove that being more conscious about our environment is not something that is unattainable to the general public. Our goal is to show that small and continuous efforts by individuals and small businesses can have an impact on how the public can view waste and how it can actually generate another subset of economic value. We hope that this effort would not only generate awareness but also the realization that being eco-conscious is practical and achievable.
What is your role in KITARAN?
As we are still new and still in our infant stages, there are no set roles for any of us (only 3 of us at the moment). However, because of my educational background and my experience in my “day” job, I’ve been mostly contributing with the financial planning side and also putting efforts into outreach and collaboration.
How did being a participant of the YES program inspire you to join KITARAN?
The YES experience helped me build my confidence in reaching out to people, people who are local or even international. Being born and raised in Malaysia, in a typical Malay family, made me feel reserved when talking to non-Malaysians whose native language is English. The opportunity to be plucked out of the country and put into a small town in rural Minnesota really helped build the confidence I needed to adapt to the new environment and believe in my capability to communicate my ideas and thoughts.
I believe a bigger impact for me is the network of alumni that I get to meet. The exposure to the many high-achieving individuals that were part of the program made me understand more about my surroundings and I believe this is the competitive edge that I get to benefit from the program.
I was inspired by a few of my closest friends, who are alumni themselves, that were courageous enough to step outside their comfort zones and make impacts in their own way.
The exposure to these inspiring individuals by being an alumnus is a privilege in itself, and that inspired me to adopt whatever I’ve learned into my own life, like joining KITARAN. Besides that, the spirit of collaboration really helped me move away from the "us versus them" mentality. This is what I believe KITARAN strives to be and work with as many people as possible with a greater cause for the environment.
Can you share the impact of the KITARAN initiative to its stakeholders?
At the moment, we are in the process of acquiring a machine that would enable us to create new products from discarded plastic waste. We are adopting the "Precious Plastic" approach and working closely with the Sea Monkey Project to acquire this machine. The model is essentially shredding discarded plastic waste and transforming it into household items. At the moment, we are planning to build flower pots and, moving forward, we plan to expand our product line.
In terms of impact, we have collected more than 20 kilograms of plastic waste from our own communities, individual households, and small businesses. The number might not be huge, but again, small and continuous effort is the name of the game, and it also means that 20 kilograms of plastic are out of our oceans and rivers.
Again, we are only in our infant stages, so if you have any tips or advice, please reach out to us! We are aiming to reach out to the general public on collecting more plastic waste and how to dispose of it in a more conscious way. Do reach out to us and we would be thrilled to get to know how you can contribute not only to us but also to the environment!
Huge thanks to Syazani for sharing with us his experience in KITARAN! If you are interested in checking out KITARAN to see their work, get in touch or contribute, hop onto their socials (@kitaranmy) on Instagram and Facebook!