Doing the little you can to add to the bigger picture

Tasneem Moosajee, the Managing Director and Developer of Park Street Mews celebrated the tree lighting ceremony and marked the beginning of the festival season earlier this month. As an iconic destination and an aesthetic location in the city, Park Street Mews constantly remains in the public limelight.

We sat down with Tasneem to talk about how she does Christmas, how to play the part to support the green movement and generally what makes her tick. Here’s what we found out.

Q: Park Street Mews has become an iconic location for celebrations in Colombo, so how important do you think it is to work on a no plastic-free zone within its premises?
The whole issue around plastic pollution is closer to my heart, because of the effect it is having on marine biodiversity. I’ve seen it first hand in the Maldives and it is truly heart-breaking to think that we are destroying our beautiful planet when we can make an active decision not to. I think we can all do something in a small way that will impact the big picture That is why I am striving to get all of us at the Park Street Mews to refrain from the use of plastic.
This season, we managed to install a mulled wine cart, which we served in mugs and glass. And if the mugs were returned, we gave them a refund. This is what we did to discourage the use of plastic and encourage alternate options.

Q: Have you made progress in this regard?
We are working on achieving a plastic free street. It is not easy because have a few tenants and each a different type of business. However, I am very happy to say that for 75% of the street, we have managed to minimise plastic. We have switched to bamboo straws instead of plastic straws, we have minimised the used of plastic cups and bags. So, I think we have come a long way and we have a long way to go.

Q: What is your opinion on the growth of no plastic zones in the city? Is it doing its part in the movement towards a sustainable country?
It’s great to see many initiatives pop up preventing single use plastics across Colombo. But we need to make change on a larger scale, and push for a complete ban on single use plastics. If countries like Rwanda and Kenya can achieve this feat, I am positive we can too.

Q: Do you believe you are in an influential position to make a change?
I believe that everyone can make a change if they want. It’s more about how passionate you are and how much of an impact you want to make. I do my part at the Mews, at home, on social media, and hopefully I am helping to spread the word in my small way.

Q: Do you think most establishments in the city are concerned about the environment?
Most businesses and establishments are very conscious and concerned these days. I see a lot of them using paper bags instead of plastic bags, segregating their garbage so this is all very impressive.

Q: What are a few things you always do to make sure you do your part for the environment?
I think it is important to be socially aware. So it is important that we educate our children and those who we can on the importance of conserving the environment. Few things that I always try to do at home are to segregate my garbage, compost my own waste, stop using plastic bags, stop using pesticides and make my own fertiliser. I also believe that if we each to something little, it will become added into the bigger picture.

Q: Did you always want to be an entrepreneur, growing up?
I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to be! I still don’t know what I will be! I only know what I am in this current moment and I am living and loving that moment. I am a strong believer in living in the present moment.

Q: Are you happy with your position in life? And what inspires you to power through?
Without a doubt, I am very happy. My family and my close friends give me the greatest strength to power through hard times equally they are my biggest critics.

Q: What are five things you can say has made you a successful woman?
1. Having a vision and committing to it
2. Not letting impediments I have encountered affect me
3. Always enjoying and loving what I do and never thinking of it as a chore
4. Making sure I listen to those around me, be it family or friends, and taking their opinions into account
5. Networking and building relationships