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Asia-Pacific LOHAS Pte. Ltd. Logo

LOHAS in Asia - Malaysia

By 2015 Malaysia will become a net importer of fuel but long term economic growth fuelled by natural resources is not a sustainable strategy for the economic growth of the country, so the government is strongly pushing green technology.

 
 
Matthias Gelber
Matthias Gelber
PRLog - Sep. 21, 2011 - SINGAPORE -- LOHAS Asia was founded in November 2009 and is a regional social enterprise based out of Singapore. We are building a community of consumers on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LOHASians as well as forming a network of influential country managers throughout the region. Over the next few months we would like to throw the spotlight on the LOHAS Asia managers around Asia.

LOHAS is a movement for the people, by the people and of the people. It will prosper in turn by people collaborating in open economic business models whereby wealth is transferred from traditional “dirty” businesses towards the newer, cleaner, greener LOHAS businesses. This is the aim of LOHAS Asia – to enable this to happen faster.

Aspirations of health and long life have always had a place in local culture across Asia-Pacific and yet the region has critical levels of water and air pollution. The Philippines has been experiencing a higher number of severe typhoons; Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have been suffering from drought, heat waves and floods more recently. It is therefore natural that climate change is a big concern in these countries.

As consumer attitudes to the environment change in Asia-Pacific, research into the LOHAS market carried out in January 2010 suggests that people are making small but meaningful changes to their daily habits to lighten their environmental footprint and become physically healthier. As a result, new market opportunities emerge for green products, which will replace traditional non-green items. Key examples of these categories are personal care, household cleaning and food and beverages.

The LOHAS Asia-Pacific market surveys show that there is high indicative demand for sustainably manufactured products in Asia-Pacific, especially in the developing economies. The main reason for the high demand is lack of availability of such products in these markets.

In May 2011 Matthias Gelber was appointed as the LOHAS Asia Country Manager for Malaysia. As an environmentalist and entrepreneur living there, he is also a well-known keynote speaker who has delivered presentations in 38 countries on issues such as climate change, green technology, green building materials and corporate social responsibility.

When he isn't mobilising green efforts, Matthias supports the company he co founded, Maleki GmbH, specialising in low carbon footprint high performance green building materials. He's constantly reflecting on new innovative ideas to help with serious issues such as climate change, like his idea for Carbon Capture Cities.

“Here in Malaysia, there is a growing environmental awareness and interest in green technology. The latter is strongly pushed by the government based on the realisation that in the long term the economic growth fuelled by natural resources, such as oil, gas and timber is not a sustainable strategy for the economic growth of the country. In particular, as around 2015 Malaysia will become a net importer of fuel. More innovation and value creation is needed. Green technology is seen as one key opportunity. “

But implementation is the challenge, particularly in a country where people are used to fast and relatively ‘easy’ money … technology money requires investment into innovation and human resources. Observing this Matthias says, “I see a lot of enthusiasm with people joining green events such as tree planting, but I have increasingly asked myself, what impact do we really create in the long term? I have come to the conclusion that those events are great for raising awareness, but for long term change in the country, we need to change consumer behaviour, which will then change the selection of products on the shelf and the type of products and services that can be traded in the economy. “

This is still difficult, as people perceive green as charity, or too expensive. To change that perception green must be equal to best value for today and for future generations. “Green must be the path to a balanced life and success,” says Matthias.

However, only very few developers are willing to switch from their old style of building, which locks in concrete or clay bricks that heat up the building in such a way that continuous high air-con consumption is a reality for the 20 plus years of the life-cycle of the building. This means high electricity bills for the residents. But with hardly anyone paying attention to this fact, consumers take it for granted that buildings in this part of the world are hot and aircon is a must.

Taking his own lifestyle in Malaysia as an example Matthias explains, “Most Malaysians think that living green is expensive. I counter that fact with the reality that I do not have a 1000 RM car loan to pay off per month and that my electricity bill is 30 RM instead of 300 RM. My green lifestyle saves me a lot of money. And I am not even putting into the calculation the money that people spent on buying things that they actually do not really need.

“I can see more and more enthusiastic people supplying green products, but take up in the market place is still limited. One such example of a wonderful and commercially very beneficial product is green light weight concrete blocks called GLOC (http://gloc.my/ ) - it saves money during construction and during operations – discussions with residents in a Malaysian high rise condo in Butterworth found that residents hardly need any air con as the building is cooled down by the GLOCs – insulation free of charge! “

We need to make green the winning colour both for the planet and for the economy. The more of us that do consciously buy green and LOHAS, the more we will shift to a healthy and sustainable economy, that is a worthy vision to “battle” for. The shifting period is not easy but ultimately the LOHAS vision must win, otherwise future generations will loose.

Article courtesy of LOHAS Asia
LOHAS stands for Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability, encouraging people to lead a healthy lifestyle and prevent further degradation of the planet. If you are interested in health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living, and social justice, discover more about LOHAS Asia by visiting http://www.lohas-asia.org and join the facebook group “LOHASia”

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Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) describes a multi-billion dollar marketplace for goods and services focused on health, the environment, healthy and sustainable living. Asia-Pacific LOHAS is an information hub for all things LOHAS in Asia.

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