Timber with a conscience

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As a consumer living in the modern world, have you ever thought about the origins of the timber goods you have bought? The word ‘sustainability’ has become one of the trendiest terms in recent times. You can see it in social media, read about it in articles to watching people talking about it in videos. 

I love animals, I love to provide a home for strays, and to help to spread the news when someone needs to get an animal to be adopted. I also help to spread awareness on endangered species. But like many out there, I am generally someone who would just try to do what I can, in the midst of my busy unpredictable work and parenting schedule.

Baby steps

In recent years, through friends and advocates for sustainable living, sustainable tourism and zero waste movement, I have become more aware of sustainability. However, as much as I respect the movement, I was too busy working to think about, for example, carrying my recycle bags around for shopping to reduce using plastic bags. Yup, guilty as charged! Due to meeting some of the most inspiring people in my home country, Malaysia, I started my gradual baby steps change.

However, come to think of it, the first time I had ever heard of the word ‘sustainable’ was in 2016 and 2017. Those memories keep coming back to me, especially during the homebound efforts!

Deramakot Forest, Sabah

timber
Deramakot Forest, Sabah

I was on a trip in Sabah, Malaysia, researching a number of stories for a documentary. One of the places that I went to visit was a forest reserve called Deramakot Forest. This forest is managed by the Sabah Forestry Department. 

I had the privilege to witness the process of logging a selected tree, understand why the tree was selected, and experience replantation efforts. I also saw proof from camera traps placed in the forest that indicated how some of the wild animals had made their way back to the habitat since the inception of the forest reserve. It was actually quite an emotional journey as I have never seen before, let alone going into the forests of such depth.

A holistic approach to sustainable manufacturing

And that was my introduction to the upstream side of the timber industry, that practices sustainable forestry management. Fast forward to 2021 and once again, it is through work, that I am formally introduced to the downstream side of the industry that practices sustainable manufacturing. This time around, it leads me to the award-winning Green Factory KL, an entity that focuses on and specialises in the holistic approach to sustainable manufacturing.

Upon meeting the founder of Green Factory KL, Harith, who is also popularly known as Harith Green Carpenter, a second generation woodworker, I was greeted with the warmest welcome by his friendly and bubbly wife Aiqa. She is also the marketing manager of Green Factory KL.

Mindful timber

At first glance, one may only see a manufacturing factory crafting wood pieces, from kitchenware and gifts to the furniture of tasteful minimalistic designs for its customers. However, every single process of the endeavour for any creation comes with mindfulness. They make an effort to recycle wood and also redesign old wood furniture into something else. The word sustainability is the purpose for Harith.

The Green Factory KL was created, derived from his belief that one can and should be conscious of every step that goes into making one’s product. And ultimately, his mission also involves inspiring others, from makers to consumers, to be mindful of how we use our resources and how we consume products.

Sustainability 2.0

Harith walks the talk. Every single question I have regarding the matter, he is equipped to answer knowledgably and eloquently. Besides, his brand ‘Dapo’, which is Malaysia’s first PEFC certified homeware brand, and ‘Oran Bula’, which is Asia’s first PEFC certified fashion wear accessories brand, speak volumes. Some of his sustainable practices also come from what he had learned as a child, what people from the olden days would practice. To him, practicing sustainability is not something new, it just needs to be re-introduced to the modern generation.

Carpentry classes for adults and kids

Apart from manufacturing products, Harith also provides carpentry classes for the public at the Green Factory KL, plus he dedicates his time to teaching and outreach under his ‘Green Hammer’ programme, an initiative aimed at guiding local communities as well as industry players on how timber products can progress towards sustainability.

I am thinking of trying out his carpentry class once it’s back on again! Since classes are also available for kids, I may bring my son along. The environment at the factory is definitely a great start for families and school tours to learn about the sustainable manufacturing industry.

Sustainable forestry in Perak

Perak Forestry team

Meanwhile, I have just come back from yet another insightful and memorable trip about sustainable forestry and sustainable manufacturing in Perak. At last, I am learning about our peninsular Forestry Department’s efforts! What took me so long? Little did I know that there are other entities out there, practicing similar mindsets.

We’re part of a larger purpose

Perhaps my ‘baby steps’ method works? I am gradually becoming more aware of so many things that previously I didn’t have time to look at! The dedication and tenacity that I saw in the forestry team and at Harith’s factory is something that I will never forget. It feels like it’s more than just work. Like there’s a larger picture or vision to be filled to benefit all living things. Sustainable forestry and sustainable manufacturing with a conscience? Love it. And so, my journey continues.

A woman in her 40s who is a mother of a nearly 12-year-old ‘big man’ called Noah, Iman Corinne is an actor, producer, and director. As an adventurous and intuitive spirit at heart, her love for the craft and telling stories has led her to connect and integrate with different people of diversity. She believes that passion comes with a purpose and dedication. And whichever hat she decides to take on, she strives for authenticity.

Deramakot Forest team

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