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Eco-Hero: Denise Keller

April 2010

By Raul Simon Cantor Lopez, Hong Kong

Denise Keller is a half Malacca-Chinese, half German model and television presenter for MTV Asia and Discovery Channel, based in Singapore. Denise has a broad fan base and a strong following throughout Asia, which she utilizes to endorse and actively promote ecologically sound practices and an environmentally-friendly professional and personal life.

Raul: What originally inspired you to take an active role in environmental causes and the promotion of eco-practices?

Denise: I first felt the calling when working on a travel series with Discovery’s Travel & Living Channel entitled "Passage to Malaysia” which took me into lush jungles. It was then that it dawned on me how beautiful our planet is and how fast much of it is disappearing. I furthermore submitted my eco-diary about my local Singapore community to the headquarters of The Climate Project in Nashville, Tennessee - helmed by former US Vice President Al Gore. It was from this that I was honoured with a seat to at the Asia Pacific Climate summit held in Melbourne 2009.

Raul: In your work as a television presenter and personality, how do you incorporate and promote green lifestyle and product choices?

Denise: Most TV personalities in Asia would never be caught dead in public, however if Bill Gates and Bloomberg can do it, I can take the local train too. I refuse to drive a car in Asia. Half the time we sit in cars fumigating the planet for hours in traffic. In Europe, people turn their cars off when in traffic, however, it will take a long time for the attitude to driving to change here.

I also try to bring my own food to eat for jobs; I’m not a big fan of styrofoam and plastics, so I bring my own lunch box. I also carry a thermos wherever I go for water or coffee.

Raul: Being green extends far beyond just work life, so how do you make choices in your home and personal life, for example food and technology that help the cause?

Denise: I track my carbon footprint incessantly, I have power meters in my house to measure the amount of energy I use per day and challenge myself to lower the footprint every month. I’ve been called nuts many times, but I prefer to call myself green instead.

Through my diet, I eat less meat and more greens as for besides health reasons, as it has been shown that the though the process of meat uses more resources, it provides our body with less nutrients as compared to vegetables.

Although not feasible everywhere, drinking tap water is another way here in Singapore as it one of the safest in the world and tests have shown that the quality in bottled water usually pale in comparison. Imagine the amount of resources used to make that plastic bottle which very soon after, is thrown away.

Raul: As a personality in Singapore and Asia as a whole, constant public appearances require an extensive wardrobe. Do you support local and international eco-friendly designers?

Denise: Though not local, I do support eco-friendly designers like Stella McCartney who has done much for the green movement and whose collections do not use fur and leather instead utilizing organic and eco-friendly materials.

A favorite brand I support immensely is Ecoist. I love the confetti clutches! Super fun and it is 100% fair trade made in Brazil.

Raul: How do you keep up to date with green trends and new products on the market? Are there any in particular that have caught your attention recently?

Denise: The Internet as ever is a great resource for my research. I have also hopped onto the Facebook bandwagon and while it allows me to keep my followers updated, I also get updated instantly on the newest green trends through that are shared through my followers.

The major trend that I see right now are green gadgets- The large corporations are developing green products, including Apple’s 17” Macbook Pro which is made of recyclable aluminium and 34% less packaging than previous models.

Motorola has gone even further by developing a phone made entirely from recycled bottles with recycled packaging and pre-paid envelopes to send phones back to Motorola for reuse. This is an era of the best of the best in technology and I see the trend soaring.

Raul: What is your best advice for those that are inspired by you to become an "Eco Hero"?

Denise: Delve into the wealth of information available online. Introduce new ways of being eco-friendly to your mates, even if only through Facebook and Twitter. There are also many entertaining and informative videos on YouTube, just one click away!

Hong Kong

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