Going paperless: not as green as you may think

“I think it’s bollocks!” growls Anthony Sebastian as I sit up, clutching my notebook aghast. We’d been talking about those pithy green phrases people usually add as part of their email signature, ‘Save a tree, don’t print this email’ or ‘Please consider the environment before printing’.

He had asked me if I used those phrases in my e-messages and I had hastily said yes, hoping to score brownie points with the leonine man whose formidable presence has been well known within the Malaysian conservation circle for over two decades.

“That’s so wrong. It doesn’t work that way anymore,” he protests, before adding glibly: “Because in order to save trees, you need to use paper!” It’s a controversial statement that would undoubtedly twist the knickers of most nature lovers I know, mine included. I’m debating between walking out in a huff —my inner-greenie affronted — and standing my ground to find out if he’s finally sold his soul to the devil.

For as long as I’ve heard about Anthony “Tony” Sebastian, he’s been championing the environment with the same dogged perseverance, pragmatism and assertive outspokenness that has seen him ruffle feathers, tread on sensitive toes and yet go on to be a prolific voice for conservation on numerous platforms. He’s the proverbial environmental gadfly. Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him.

A wildlife ecologist by training and a conservation-planning specialist by profession, Sebastian was the first Asian chairperson to preside over the international board for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Specialising in fields of conservation, agriculture and wetlands, forestry, policy as well as international conventions, the Sarawakian, who continues to remain on the FSC Board of directors is intent on strengthening the council’s presence in Asia. And at the moment, he seems to be intent on ruffling my feathers.

Sebastian had flown in from Kuching to attend a stakeholder dialogue organised a day earlier by FSC on forest certification. A pioneer of forest certification in Malaysia, Sebastian hadn’t only served on the board of the Malaysian Timber Certification Council but has been involved in the early efforts of using certification as a tool for the advancement and betterment of our forest industry since the 1990s. At present, he chairs the Malaysian FSC Standards Development Group (SDG), established in 2010 to tailor FSC’s global certification standards for applicability to Malaysia.

Suffice to say, all this indicates that he knows what he’s talking about. Sitting comfortably across me, his eyes twinkling at my obvious discomfort while I struggle to make sense of his “use more paper” statement, he then asks: “What do you know about FSC?” More >>.

Source: www.nst.com

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