A different kind of mother by any standards and certainly the right woman for International Women\u2019s Day, Dr. Yasmin Rasyid is a marine biologist by profession and an environmentalist by passion. She champions sustainable living and leads by example through her work, her beliefs, and her non-governmental, youth-led environmental organisation called EcoKnights. Founded in 2005 by Yasmin, where she also serves as the president, EcoKnights has pushed its agenda of empowering Malaysians to live sustainably and protecting the environment for more than 15 years. The NGO has successfully achieved its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through many of its initiatives, such as community developments and education, public outreach, rehabilitation, conservation and restorations, sustainability communications, as well as youth development and volunteerism. In 2019, before the pandemic curtailed movements, it successfully planted 510 trees in degraded areas, collected 9.87 tonnes of solid and organic waste including used cooking oil, cleaned up six tonnes of river waste from 3 polluted urban rivers, such as Sg. Bunus, Sg. Gombak, Sg. Kerayong, and delivered 128 talks and workshops to motivate more Malaysians to adopt sustainable habits and practices. Its achievements have not gone unnoticed. In recognition of its outstanding volunteering efforts in restoring and rehabilitating degraded landscapes in the country, EcoKnights won the \u2018Inisiatif Sukarelawan Negara Taman\u2019 award presented by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Yasmin receiving the \u2018Inisiatif Sukarelawan Negara Taman\u2019 award for outstanding volunteering efforts in restoring degraded landscapes in Malaysia. It also received the 'NGO Leadership' award during the Golden Globe Tiger Awards 2019 in recognition of its work, such as shaping the future of the country, involvement in communities, protection of the environment, and effective sustainable mobilisation of resources through its many programmes and initiatives. EcoKnights receiving the 'NGO Leadership' award during the Golden Globe Tiger Awards 2019 for shaping the future of the country. Yasmin Talks about Family, Green Methods, and Ways to Build a Better Planet for All Yasmin, whose passion lies in sustainability, community development, social entrepreneurship, and social responsibility, is also the mother of two quickly-blossoming teenaged children and a full-time working mother. She currently serves as the Sustainability Director at Lendlease Malaysia. Motherhood takes this opportunity to ask Yasmin how she does it, and these are her answers. Yasmin Rasyid with husband, winning one of the many awards she has won throughout her years as an environmental activist, community leader, and sustainability professional. 1. Motherhood: This is the first time Motherhood will be talking to a biologist and an environmentalist. What an interesting area! Please tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and why sustainability and sustainable community development drive you? Dr. Yasmin Rasyid: Hi I\u2019m Yasmin. I\u2019m a mother to two girls, aged 12 and 19, and am passionate about driving change in societies. My core driver is my interest in sustainability, which I've studied academically and also worked professionally. I grew up in the small town of Ipoh, a two-hour drive-up north of KL and from a multiracial and multicultural background. I have a day job, a corporate job with a MNC as the country sustainability director. With EcoKnights, I\u2019m a volunteer, founder, and I serve as the organisation\u2019s president. I'm intuitively drawn and attracted to the field of sustainability and I think it resonates with my personality and nature as well. I like solving problems. I like giving assistance to those who need it. And my motivation is always about contributing to society to help create a harmonious and sustainable future for all. 2. Motherhood: Please tell us about EcoKnights and the projects it has initiated and completed. I'm sure there's been a lot. Some of the programmes that Ecoknights has initiated and completed. Dr. Yasmin Rasyid: Yes, there\u2019s been a lot. Many of our programmes are still in progress as community development takes a while. We have a range of programmes designed for primary and secondary school kids, university students, community groups, and even businesses, and they're centered on change. Kindly refer to Impact Reports here to view some of our programmes, and their impact. 3. Motherhood: Apart from EcoKnights, what else are you involved in? Tell us a bit about your work in Lendlease and MaGIC. Dr. Yasmin Rasyid: I've worked with MaGIC (a government agency) on national social entrepreneurship development. I was the programme director of MasSIVE (but now it doesn\u2019t exist), which was all about supporting the growth of social entrepreneurs in the country. In Lendlease today, I serve as the country director of sustainability. I'm currently spending less time with EcoKnights as they're such a capable team now, and I'm refocusing on building my sustainability skills sets and strengths in decarbonisation. 4. Motherhood: What's Social Entrepreneurship (SE)? Can you tell us your experience in this? EcoKnights is a social enterprise. It creates initiatives to solve community-based problems. Dr. Yasmin Rasyid: It\u2019s about making good profit while doing good for people and\/or the planet. I stumbled upon the SE ecosystem by chance. EcoKnights was gradually interviewed by the media and engaged by government agencies sometime in 2013, when we were identified as an organisation that was classified as a social enterprise. Theoretically, all companies should have a social impact or value focus, in which they make profit while giving back to either the environment or society. In my utopia, this would be ideal. I think the challenge is in changing our mindsets to delve less on profits, but still make enough to take care of our financials, while being able to give back good social values to communities. I've had a fun experience in the SE journey \u2013 from the founder\/co-founder of SEs to working on policy matters with MaGIC, and now with Lendlease, supporting the growth and scale-up of SEs. 5. Motherhood: And so we\u2019re into our 2nd year of the pandemic. Has the pandemic affected the progress of all you've set out to do or has it, in fact, given you more time to pursue other interests and\/or grow closer to the family? Dr. Yasmin Rasyid: It has done both. Definitely gotten the family to spend more time together, and definitely led to some setbacks in plans. And in some instances, it challenged my sanity. But I think overall, the pandemic or the impact of the pandemic has really tested my resiliency and adaptability. 6. Motherhood: I understand you have two children? How old are they now? Where are they in their education, schooling, and growing-up years? How are they coping with the pandemic and constant school closures? How are you coping? Yasmin and family. Dr. Yasmin Rasyid: Two girls \u201312 and 19. Mia is taking foundation in an art course in UCSI, while Elani is in Standard 6 in a government school. But of course, for now, they're in school digitally. I think it's hard on Mia as this is the time she should socialise, meet peers, and supposedly have a great college experience. Now she sees them on screen only. No cheerleading, no mixers, no debate sessions, no sports. That's not fun. But she\u2019s coping. I suspect she\u2019s just going with the flow. Elani is tougher to manage. I've come to understand that she's not the kind that manages well with this new online approach. She needs that social interaction and a more physical participatory active approach to learning. So, my husband and I are really trying a bunch of ways and approaches to be as encouraging, understanding, and motivating as possible for her to embrace online learning. 7. Motherhood: So one of your children is about to become a teenager? Could you tell us what the journey has been like, what are the challenges you have faced, and how these challenges are anticipated to change as she grows up? What do you ensure to instil in her to fortify her journey into adulthood? \u201cOur household requires everyone to participate. The idea is for them to understand that all of us make up the family and all of us play our roles. It keeps us organised and cohesive.\u201d \u2014 Yasmin Rasyid. Dr. Yasmin Rasyid: I think maintaining open and honest communications and creating outlets for that to happen are important. And between my husband and I, we have to always be conscious that if one has to be the bad cop, the other has to be the good one. Our household requires everyone to participate. Dine together during dinners, participate in chores like recycling or clearing up the trash bins; these are driven by teaching and reminding them of their contributions and responsibilities. The idea is for them to understand that all of us make up the family and all of us play our roles. It keeps us organised and cohesive. At the same time, we also push them toward exemplifying independence \u2013 be it in decision-making processes and being responsible for their own consequences. I want to ensure that we're able to instil discipline, personal independence, and lastly, an appreciation of cultures and values (since they're born in a multicultural family). 8. Motherhood: What are some of the things a mother and her family can do, in their own everyday lives, to safeguard our environment? Dr. Yasmin Rasyid: (a) Manage food consumption and disposal wisely at home. According to a study conducted by the National Solid Waste Management Department (JPSPN) in 2012, food waste is among the highest waste generated in Malaysia; approximately about 31% to 45% of the total volume waste generated every day. All of these end up in landfills and contribute to pollution; not to mention, it's eating up land space, which can be used otherwise for impactful purposes. Know how to manage your proportions, eat healthier, and buy local (to reduce food miles), store leftovers, and be creative in reinventing leftovers to eat later (so you throw out less), and finally, if you do have to throw your food waste out, why not try composting? Here's more on how you can save food: \u201cMum has Tips on How to Save Food from Getting Binned\u201d (b) Try as much as you can to separate your solid recyclable waste from food waste. If you can do that basic separation, you're treating and managing waste better at home. My children are very involved with recycling because that\u2019s their responsibility to pack them up. (c) About 5 years ago, my husband made a DIY rainwater harvesting system outside our house, under our porch. Yasmin\u2019s DIY Rainwater Harvesting System You can watch the video here and you can even email Yasmin on how to make a similar system for your home. We just wanted to collect rainwater and make use of it (as opposed to using potable water from the pipes) for the garden and outdoor washing purposes. Because water is so cheap in Malaysia, I guess not many people think much about water. I wish more of us were more conscious about this finite resource \u2013 if not protected, it'll threaten our existence in the future. 9. Motherhood: We read that you won 'Women Empowerment' awards in 2017. Could you tell us what they were about and what you did? Dr. Yasmin Rasyid: I think it was probably the 'BERG Women Icon' awards, and they were like a recognition award for what I do and being a woman working in a very male-dominated kind of world. I can\u2019t remember exactly, however, I appreciated it. 10. Motherhood: What\u2019s your definition of women empowerment? How can we empower women (especially mothers) and our daughters in our communities? Dr. Yasmin Rasyid: Empowerment to me is about having the capacity, ability, and opportunity to grow, demonstrate, and exercise your skill sets, knowledge, and leadership to do well for society, and being respected for that. That\u2019s how I define it for my own use. And also, it's about being a good role model with good established values to influence other women in your community to do well while doing good. Motherhood IWD Special: Keep an eye on this space for more features on inspiring mums who have made a name for themselves, created a niche, and shone in leadership roles in their own different spheres of interests.